You all know I love rummaging around in boxes and sometimes I find a beauty like this! It’s been hand coloured/painted by the photographer, it was right at the bottom of the box and in two pieces, I’m astonished it survived at all especially the two parts staying together. It seems likely that the shop is decorated to celebrate the Coronation of George V on 22 June 1911. What was it doing at a Fleamarket in Somerset? It’s 13 inches tall and 11 inches wide. Was it displayed in the shop I wonder?
It took me a while but finally I managed to match up the building and found this information: https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2875359
‘2 Church Street, Liverpool Formerly known as Seel’s Building. Victorian architecture could veer into forbidding and uncompromising territory, as seen here. A “rare essay in commercial architecture” by Edward Welby Pugin, 1872. Like his father, Augustus, mostly he designed churches. Perhaps he should have stuck to what he knew. Gothic with a strangely projecting top floor on corbels.
The building to the left with a prominent tower was built as Cooper’s store (c1920, by Gerald de Courcy Fraser)‘. With this image below:
I fully intended to just write this blog all about the Cranes Music store in the photo. They were a large company known as ‘the largest dealers in musical instruments in the North of England, having branches all over the North‘. But any company large or small is nothing without the person or persons that founded it and run it. So when I came across these words written by an employee of the company about the founder George James Crane, I just had to find out more about him and his family:
“A visitor to the Arthur Lloyd site Harold Faulkner made contact with the site to say: ‘The Gentleman in front of Crane Buildings is old George Crane. He was 93 when I worked there before the war. (WW2) Once a week I took cheques into the boardroom for him to sign before he fell asleep, and his wife took him home.’ ” Wonderful to have a photo of George!
Words and the fantastic photo above (taken in the 1890’s I think) and below I found on http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/Liverpool/NeptuneTheatreLiverpool.htm ‘The Epstein Theatre was built in 1911 and originally opened as a concert hall called the Crane Hall, sometimes known as Crane’s Music Hall in 1913. The space was incorporated into a five story building which was built for the Crane Brothers to house offices and a music shop. The Hall, which was above the music shop and reached by a long spiral staircase, was originally intended for musical recitals and had a small platform stage to the right of where the rear stalls entrance of the present Neptune Theatre is.’
Information about all the various shops Crane’s had and type of musical instruments, Pianos and Organs they stocked on here: http://tardis.dl.ac.uk/FreeReed/organ_book/node33.html#SECTION000338000000000000000
Here’s some of the information here from the above website: ‘Crane and Sons Ltd. were large music dealers who imported reed organs from the USA for re-sale under their own name. They also commissioned others from English manufacturers. It is believed that Crane and Sons were successors to The London and Liverpool Pianoforte Co., 30-32 Granby Road, Liverpool. Some labels actually say this. It is not known when Cranes took over. Actually some pianos still carry the L&L name and also the C&S stock numbers. Bill Kibby notes that it seems the name was used from 1886 until after WWII. The firm was often known as Crane and Sons of Liverpool and London. In 1899 Cranes set up in London at 149 Oxford Circus as concertina makers, although it is believed that the instruments were actually made by the Lachenal Co. At that time they held an agency for Doherty organs. In 1902 they advertised as the sole agency for Christophe and Etienne harmoniums from 10 to 300 guineas.
Premises Crane and Sons Ltd., the largest piano and organ firm in the World. Scotland Road, Liverpool. In 1910 Crane and Sons had shops at the following locations. England: Wales:
London, 149 Oxford St. Cardiff, 8 City Rd.
Liverpool, 2 Church St. Wrexham, 40 Regent St.
Manchester, 202-4 Deansgate Bangor, 156-8 High St.
Birmingham, Old Square Swansea, 241 Oxford St.
Sheffield, Lady’s Bridge
Bolton, 156 Deansgate Scotland:
Seacombe, 48 Brighton St. Glasgow, 82-4 New City Rd.
St. Helens, 7 Church St.
Preston, 114 Lancaster Rd. Ireland:
Leeds, 19 Guildford St. Dublin, 40 Upper Sackville St.
Newcastle, 272 Westgate Rd. Belfast, Donegall Sq.
Hanley, Piccadilly Cork, 37 South Mall……….At other times there were:
Birmingham, 35-36 Colmore Circus, Queensway B46 6BN
Liverpool, Crane Building, Hanover Street L1 3DZ
Liverpool, Scotland Road” As you can see Scotland Road on this site doesn’t get much of a mention, even though I believe it was their first premises and began the Crane story.
There is also lots of wonderful information about Crane’s the company and the family and it’s history in Wrexham on the website https://www.wrexham-history.com/cranes-sons-regent-street-wrexham/ There was a branch of Crane’s in Wrexham. Really interesting read.
The Crane Family Music Shop History. I am so glad I saw that quote above as it has turned out to be a really interesting research journey.
George James Crane was quite a man who had four wives and six children, although he had a very successful professional life making him loads of money, his personal life held a lot of sadness and tragedy, more on that later. The story of the wealth of the family and the beginnings of Crane’s Music shop empire really started with his father Thomas. Thomas Crane was firstly a Master Pilot in Liverpool. ‘Approaching the Port of Liverpool, navigating the sand banks, shifting sands and the powerful tides of the Irish Sea, Liverpool Bay and the Mersey Estuary has always been a hazardous undertaking. A Pilot went out to Ships to steer them safely into port‘. Information from the liverpoolmuseums.org.uk
I found these records below about Thomas Crane that had been transcribed by Celia from the Pilotage records on her Family History records website here: shaunandjane.co.uk “Thomas Crane Boat 6.
December 15th 1836 license withdrawn in consequence of keeping a public house
18th May 1837 Thomas Crane license given to him on his petition stating that he had given up the public house 29th October 1838 on the complaint of ? Buddle? Mate ? Of her majesty Cutter for abusive language. Ordered that he be fined £2. 24th November 1845. Appointed 3rd Master of no 7. 5th July 1847 Appointed to 2nd Master during Jones sickness. 27th August 1849. Appointed 1st Master of no 9
19th January 1852. For the disgraceful insubordination shown to ?1st in his boat and which he had sanctioned. Fined £5 and reprimanded by the chairman. 3rd April 1854 fined £5 for violation of bylaw-5
17th November 1862 superannuated on £35 per anum.
As you can see from the records above Thomas Crane seemed quite a character himself! He was born in Liverpool on 5 Dec 1805 the son of Catholic parents James and Elizabeth. He married Elizabeth Thornton on 6 July 1831 at St Luke’s, Liverpool. They had eight children that I have found: Joseph 1832-1856. Elizabeth 1833-1915 Mary Jane 1835-1901. Priscilla 1840-1892. Thomas Thornton 1842-1922. William 1843-1913. George James 1849-1943. Sarah Ellen 1850-1924.
In the various census and baptism records Thomas always described himself as a Master Pilot or Pilot. In 1841 he and his family lived at Burlington Street, Liverpool. In 1851 they lived at no 8 Portland Square, Liverpool. Sometime between 1851 and 1856 the family all moved to Scotland Road as I found the announcement of eldest son Joseph’s death at 23 years old in The Liverpool Mail on the 29 March 1856 describes him (Joseph) as being a Pawnbroker, son of Master Pilot Thomas Crane. So was Joseph running the Pawnbrokers for his father? or did he actually start the business, maybe a bit of both?
So I took a closer look at the 1851 census and it shows Joseph Crane (eldest son)who is a Pawnbroker’s Apprentice, living at the home of a James Heald and family, a Pawnbroker living at 224a Scotland Road (there were a lot of Pawnbrokers in Scotland Road over the years!)….so now we know, Joseph was living away and learning the trade for the family it seems. Then in 1861 Thomas is strangely absent from the family home, but wife Elizabeth is described as married, head of household and a Pawn Broker listed with the children and also 3 young men all described as Pawn Broker apprentices all living at 221 (including 223)Scotland Road, there is also an error with the name of one of the children so I’m thinking did Thomas just get left off the census by mistake? and he should have been the ‘Pawn Broker’ and Elizabeth his wife the ‘assistant’ in the business, it would definitely make more sense, I’ve searched all possible other options but cannot find Thomas anywhere else? (at this time 219 and 217 Scotland Road were occupied by a Provisions Dealer and a Tobacconist). In the 1871 census Thomas with his wife Elizabeth and daughters Mary and Sarah were living at 29 Sackville Street, Liverpool. Thomas is described as a Pawnbroker, seems he become a Pawnbroker immediately after Joseph had died in tandem with his Pilot’s job, then full time following on from being pensioned off in November 1862.
So the earliest mention in the newspapers I have found of the Pawnbrokers Shop at 221 Scotland Road was 1857. After trawling through many pages of adverts and various other pages on the BNA I came across two interesting clues to the exact address of the Pawnbrokers shop, firstly in the Northern Daily Times for 13 May 1857, the year after Joseph Crane had died, an advert for an auction selling ‘unredeemed pledges’ from various Pawnbrokers including J.Crane, Scotland Road. Then in the Liverpool Mercury on 10 August 1861 ‘Wanted a respectable Apprentice to the Pawnbroking business-Apply to Mr Crane, 221 Scotland Road. See below:
So, now we know that father Thomas was running the Pawnbrokers. Also in 1861 his second son Thomas Thornton Crane aged 19 was himself an apprentice Pawnbroker and next son William an Apprentice Pilot. Of course, George James was still only 12 years old and a scholar. His influence on the blossoming family business was still to come!
1871 finds the Crane family quite changed, as now father Thomas, his wife Elizabeth and just two daughters Mary and Sarah are living at 29 Sackville St, Liverpool. Thomas is still described as a Pawnbroker but the two brothers Thomas Thornton and George James are living above the Pawnbrokers shop, now expanded from 217, 219, 221, 223 Scotland Road. There is also an assistant young man and three apprentice lads at the same address. So the shop is growing with the brothers at the helm. I have found many adverts detailing what they would accept for money in the shop and I think that their success was down to them taking anything and everything for cash, lots of very large items such as furniture, sofas and especially musical instruments including pianos…you can see what this is leading up to can’t you! Here are a few adverts that were placed in the local papers below, they even gave a warranty on some models:
So now we know that Crane’s MUSIC shops evolved from the Pawnbrokers shop, Pianos and Organs and other musical instruments were very popular in all the best houses, no parlour was complete without one. Crane’s got it just right by keeping the Pawnbrokers at number 221-223 Scotland Road in tandem with the growing Music shop at 217-219 Scotland Road didn’t they. I believe the brothers Thomas Thornton Crane and William James Crane made the very significant changes to expand the business after their father Thomas had died in April 1875. Likely opening all the many branches in different areas of the North.
Crane Family History. Thomas Crane (Captain) was born on 02 Dec 1805 in Liverpool, Lancashire. When he was 25, he married Elizabeth Thornton, daughter of Samuel Thornton and Mary Owen, on 03 Sep 1831 in Saint Luke, Liverpool, Lancashire (Thomas was a Pilot at the time of marriage). He died on 27 Apr 1875 in Liverpool, Lancashire.
Thomas Crane was baptized on 11 Dec 1805 in Liverpool, Lancashire. Thomas was a Pilot at the time of his daughter Priscilla’s birth in 1840. The family lived in Liverpool, Lancashire in 1841 (Thomas is a Pilot). They lived in Everton, Lancashire in 1851 (Relationship: Head. A Master Pilot (Boat/Ship) ). They lived in St Peter, Lancashire, England in 1871 (Relation to Head: Head. Thomas is a Pawnbroker). He still lived in Liverpool, Lancashire at the time of his death in Apr 1875. He was buried on 30 Apr 1875 in Liverpool, Lancashire. His estate was probated on 24 Apr 1893 in Liverpool, England. As his two sons Thomas and George obviously had the Pawbrokers and Music business, Thomas left his money to his son William and son in law Henry Richmond Jones (daughter Elizabeth’s husband) £7,891, 2s 2d almost a million pounds in todays money.
Thomas Crane Captain and Elizabeth (Thornton) eight children:
1) Joseph Crane was born in 1832 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. He died on 23 Mar 1856 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, aged just 23.
2) Elizabeth Crane was born on 15 Apr 1833 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. She married Henry Richmond Jones on 07 May 1861 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. She died in Apr 1915 in Toxteth Park, Lancashire. The couple had four children: Robert Thornton 1866-1906. Thomas 1869-? Henry 1870-? Harry 1871-?
3) Mary Jane Crane was born in 1835 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. She died in 1901 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England.
4) Priscilla Crane was born on 04 Jan 1840 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. She died in Jul 1892 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. She married George Neptune Bainbridge on 29 Nov 1866 in Walton-On-The-Hill, Lancashire, England.
5) Thomas Thornton Crane was born in 1842 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. He married Eleanor Bell in Apr 1872 in West Derby, Lancashire. He died on 11 Jun 1922 in ‘Heathlands’ Sefton Park, Liverpool, Lancashire (Thomas Thornton Crane was a JP as well as a Director of the Crane company. and he left £89, 213, 13s 1d to his widow Eleanor and eldest son). Worth over five million in today’s money! The couple had four children: Eleanor Crane 1874-1974. Thomas 1876-1963. Florence 1877-1934. Winifred 1879-?
6) William Crane was born in Dec 1843 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. He married Sarah Day on 08 May 1867 in Walton-On-The-Hill, Lancashire. He died on 15 Jun 1913 in Magazine Lane, Cheshire, England. The couple had five daughters: Elizabeth 1869-1954. Edith 1871-1949. Sarah 1873-1939. Minnie 1875-1957. Louise 1877-1973.
7) George James Crane was born on 21 Oct 1849 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. He married firstly 1) Mary Jane Bell on 08 Jun 1876 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England (On his Marriage certificate, he is described as a Pawnbroker.) They had four children but sadly two died in childhood, Lilian was almost 3 years old and George junior was five years old.
a)Minnie Thornton Crane was born on 22 Mar 1877 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. She died on 05 Mar 1961 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England.
b)Lillian Crane was born on 18 Feb 1879 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. She died on 06 Jan 1882 in West Derby, Lancashire.
c)Mabel Thornton Crane was born on 31 May 1880 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. She died on 06 Sep 1965 in Liverpool, England.
d)George Leonard Crane was born on 20 Apr 1884 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. He died in Nov 1889 in West Derby, Lancashire.
Then after his first wife’s death, she was just 35, in 1886. I wonder what she died of? Then he married her sister 2) Charlotte Bell on 16 Dec 1888 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA. Now this was interesting as I assume she had likely come to live with the family if her sister had been poorly before her death and then maybe stayed to look after the children as they were all young. Love blossomed between them and they wanted to marry BUT in the UK at that time they were unable to marry legally. I was curious when I spotted George on the passenger lists arriving in New York on 15 December 1888 travelling with a Miss C Bell. I thought at first..an affair? As it could be Charlotte Bell a relative of his dead wife? But it soon became clear when I discovered this newspaper article stating that they had married the day after arriving:
The union with Charlotte seems to have been a tragic one as they just had one son Harold George Crane born on the 2 September 1890, died on the 4 September 1890 and buried on the 6 September 1890. After his death on the 9 December 1890 Charlotte entered the Haydock Lodge, Lunatic Asylum, Warrington, Lancashire where she stayed until her death on 15 April 1891. What did she die of? we can only speculate, a broken heart, but very likely as a result of her sons birth or death, it must have effected her either physically or mentally. George waited a full year and he then married 3) Margaret Hollis on 24 May 1892 in Holy Trinity, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England. she was 32 and a Spinster. She died on 29 April 1909, they had just one son George Leslie Crane 1894-1935. So then lastly he married 4) Ann Margaret Williams on 29 December 1910. I love on the marriage license it say that Ann Margaret was just 21 years old and upwards! She was 44! and George was 61 years old.
Ann outlived George dying on 3 October 1949, still in the home they had shared. Seapoint House, Blundellsands, Liverpool. I found this old photo of it (Below) sadly derelict but I bet it was magnificent in its day overlooking Crosby Beach, where the famous Antony Gormley statues are now, called ‘Another Place’
George died on 16 Mar 1943 in Crosby, Lancashire. Left £228,413,10s 9d. Which in today’s money is over 13 Million!
8) Sarah Ellen Crane was born in Jul 1850 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. She married Jeremiah Wane Bell on 13 Jun 1877 in St Andrews Church, Liverpool, Lancashire. They had one daughter Ethel Wane Ball, she was born on 31 March 1878 just four weeks after her father died at age 30. Sarah Ellen married again in about 1885 to Francis Irwin, the couple had four children Richard Stanley 1888, Thomas Gordon 1889, George Francis 1891 and Hilda Evelyn Mary 1893. Sarah Ellen died on 07 Feb 1924 in Isle of Man, where the family lived.
The connection with the Bell family was interesting as Charles Bell, a Draper and Tailor lived and worked near to Thomas Crane and the families obviously knew each other fairly well. Charles Bell and his wife Dorothy (Wane) had ten children, three of these daughters and one son married a Crane:
Edward Bell was born on 26 Mar 1837 in Liverpool, Lancashire
Mary Ellen Bell was born in 1839 in Lancashire, she died in Jan 1843 in West Derby, Lancashire
Hannah Bell was born in Jan 1842 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England.
Charles Bell was born in 1844 in Liverpool. He died in Dec 1866 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England.
James Crosfield Bell was born in Jan 1846 in Liverpool, Lancashire. He died on 19 Jan 1889 in Lancashire, England.
Jeremiah Wane Bell was born in 1848 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. He married Sarah Ellen Crane on 13 Jun 1877 in St Andrews Church, Liverpool, Lancashire, England.He died in 1878.
Samuel Wane Bell was born about 1848 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England.
Eleanor Bell was born in 1850 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. She married Thomas Thornton Crane in Apr 1872 in West Derby, Lancashire. She died in Jan 1946 in ‘Heathlands’ Sefton Park, Liverpool, Lancashire, England.
Mary Jane Bell was born in Jan 1851 in West Derby, Lancashire, England. She married George James Crane on 08 Jun 1876 in Liverpool, Lancashire (On his Marriage certificate, he is described as a Pawnbroker). She died in Apr 1886 in Liverpool, Lancashire
Charlotte Bell was born on 28 Aug 1852 in Saint Mary, Edge Hill, Lancashire, England. , England (Entered the hospital on 9 Dec 1890. ). She married George James Crane on 16 Dec 1888 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA. She died on 15 Apr 1891 in Haydock, Lancashire.
Louisa Bell was born in 1856 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England.
Various members of the Crane family and also I believe the Bell family and their descendants worked in the Crane Music stores, one was Frances Irwin, Sarah Ellen Crane’s second husband. We know from newspaper adverts that in May 1893, Mr. F. Irwin was still the manager at 4 Regent Street, but by the end of August 1893, the manager was Robert Thornton Jones, who was the son of Elizabeth Crane and her husband Henry Richmond Jones. His life too was cut short at aged 40 he died of Tubercular Meningitis with his brother Thomas Russell Jones at his bedside. Described as a Musical Instrument Dealer. Robert had been married twice and his first wife Agnes with her family came back to Liverpool from Wrexham in 1897 (with her husband Robert Thornton Jones and their three children) to be supported by her family as she had a Brain Tumour, she died in July 1898. She was only 29. Robert’s second wife was Edith Jane Boyd, they had married in 1899 and had three children by the time of his death. Was nice to see she continued to look after her three stepchildren after his death as one was still living with her and her children in the 1911 census. Here’s the direct link to the Crane Family Tree I have compiled on Ancestry: https://www.ancestry.co.uk/family-tree/tree/172969132/family?cfpid=242243106736
Here below are just 5 pages of the most splendid and fabulous catalogue produced by the company in 1910, thank goodness for Google Search! The store in my old photo is bottom left of the page of images of a selection of their stores. I found the whole 42 page catalogue online on the website of Historic Environment Scotland, you can access the full catalogue here: http://orapweb.rcahms.gov.uk/coflein/6/661950.PDF
George James Crane died 16 Mar 1943 and this was in the paper The Liverpool Daily Post on 15 Jun 1943: ‘GEORGE JAMES CRANE. Deceased. Pursuant to the Trustee Act 1925. Notice hereby Given that all Persons having Claims against the Estate of GEORGE JAMES CRANE late of Seapoint House Blundellsands Liverpool 25. Merchant, who died on the Sixteenth day of March 1945 and Probate of whose Will was granted by the District Probate Registry at Liverpool on the Twenty-sixth day of May 1943 to the surviving Executor therein named are required to send particulars thereof to the undersigned on or before the Twenty-eighth day August next after which date the Executor will proceed to distribute the Assets having regard only to the claims of which he will then have had notice.—Dated this tenth day of June 1945. LACES & CO., 1 Union Court, Castle Street. Liverpool. 67085 Solicitors for the Executor’.
A few details from his will were also published, this from The Liverpool Echo on the 16 June 1943, Headed Big Estate: ‘MUSIC SELLER’S £228,413 BIG ESTATE OF THE LATE MR. G. J. CRANE A sum of £228,413 gross (net personalty £221,707) has been left by the late Mr George James Crane, director of Crane and Sons, Ltd., music sellers, piano manufacturers, and concert agents, ot Hanover Street, Liverpool. Probate of the will has been granted in the Liverpool District Probate Registry. The death duty payable is £75,202. Mr Crane resided at Seapoint House, Burbo Bank Road, Blundellsands, where he died on March 16. The testator left his estate to his widow and two daughters, with the direction that under a trust fund, failing issue of any of his daughters, a quarter of the fund should be paid to the trustees of the Liverpool Diocesan Board of the Ministry (Benefices Augmentation Fund), to be invested in British Government funds and securities. The income is to be applied in perpetuity for the augmentation of stipends of such curates or vicars of the Church of England in the Liverpool diocese as the Bishop of Liverpool, for the time being, shall decide, nut no larger sum than £5O to be paid in any one year in augmentation of the stipend of any one beneficiary. He bequeathed the following legacies: To his chauffeur, Daniel Butler, if in his employ at the time of his death, £5O; to any other male servant, of five years’ continuous service, in his employ at the time of his death, three calendar months’ wages, and to each female servant similarly situated the sum of £25. The bequests are free of death duty‘
What George left in his Will was the equivalent of over Ten Million in today’s money= £10,837,640.
I actually sent for George’s will, as it’s still only £1.50 at the moment and there were no surprises really, here’s a couple of interesting pages, great to know he was a collector!
It’s interesting that George mentioned Minnie and Mabel in his will, they both remained unmarried and that reminded me of the fact that there were several daughters born from this family who likely chose to remain unmarried, they had money, so unlike most women of the time didn’t have to marry to be financially secure.
Scotland Road is very well known in Liverpool so it wasn’t a surprise when I came across many old photos of the area, here’s a few I found below. Did you also know that Cilla Black grew up in Scotland Road? In a flat above this Barber/Hairdressers shop, first photo.
When I found out where my shop photo was taken in Liverpool I looked on my favourite site for any Old Postcards of the area and I struck lucky, they had this lovely one (photo below) for sale, so nice to have this to keep with the large photo I found of Cranes Store. Even more wonderful was when Old Postcards said she actually used to go in one of their Music shops as a child with her Mother! So I asked her if she wouldn’t mind me sharing her memories on my Blog. I’m thrilled she agreed…..“As a youngster, I remember regular trips into Liverpool with my mother and we’d always park in the same car park. The car park exit was opposite Crane’s shop in Hanover Street and I used to insist on it being the first shop we went in. It was a large store, on two floors I think. I remember the thrill of looking at the musical instruments and demanding to have a go on the drums in particular! The other much loved section was the sheet music and lyrics of the current chart hits – in a world decades before google, it was the only way of knowing for sure, what some song lyrics really did say! Happy memories from the late 50s/early 60s. Still searching for a postcard showing that store!Even to this day I treasure those memories. It’s a pity it’s not there any more. Take care and stay safe x”
Old Postcards website: https://www.oldpostcards4sale.co.uk/
Wishing you all a very Happy and Healthy 2021.
Till next time then…………