Mayer and Harrison - Jackson Street, Hulme

Located near the BBC studios (remember Pop North with Gaye Byrne and Bernard Herrman and the NDO), the shop and its location has long since disappeared due to redevelopment.

Tony Lingard, however, well remembers the shop, having bought his first bass there. A Burns for 15 quid.

Burning the candle at three ends gigging around the London jazz scene 1959-1962 I returned with some reluctance to Manchester and spent almost one year hardly leaving the house gradually getting my head together.

The first day job a got was working at Mayer and Harrison. What an establishment - Dickensian with brass might just about describe it - owned by the redoubtable Mr.Mayer. Brass was for him; brass instrument-wise and what made the ancient cash-register ring. He was I think, under the hard northern businessman persona, a kind man but business and profit was for him a very serious matter and his eye was always firmly fixed on what we would call during this current era - The Bottom Line. His small foibles included a single-bar electric fire to heat the entire shop. Recycling all string and brown paper. Paying very low wages. Regarding the concept of a lunch hour as a hopelessly modern conceit.

The shop premises where in a very poor state of repair but were nevertheless a combination of museum and an almost buried treasure. There were room after room of brass band instruments in various stages of disrepair ready to be refurbished in the equally Dickensian workshop he owned just down the street from the shop.

Really interesting for me where the many pitch-paper parcels tucked away in various corners. Strange brass instruments with multiple crooks and slides. Bugles with stops similar the one favoured by a member of the Alberts. There were dozens of these instrumental curiosities. I sometime wonder what happened to them.

I freely admit the year I spent there was an education. It provided me with sharp exposure to the realities of business and the making of profit. Encounters with a very sober world referred to then as 'The Movement' that is the brass band world and something that I am sure has long ceased to exist in that manifestation. Superb musicians who earned their living in factories and mines. Portly gentlemen with a great sense of their own importance the members of sundry organising committees.

After one year of doing my six days a week - with no lunch hour (it reminded me to some extent of my time in the RAF and the 'We can take it ' attitudes you would experience in the ranks) I succumbed during a particularly cold December - the one bar electric fire - to a very bad case of tonsillitis and thus ended my brief and I must admit interesting career in the employment of Mayer and Harrison.

There is a sense in which the disappearance the shop and the very street in which it stood is a fitItng closure on a time and a world that seems ever more remote.

Peter Maguire

In 1965 Mayer and Harrison's gave me 50 pounds for a harmony 358 and sold me for an extra 20 pounds, a Gibson 330. I still have the guitar today, playing in Austalia - it's perfect and was the best deal I have ever made.

I was sorry to hear Grahame from A.1 music had passed away, he was a great guy and I bought a lot of gear off him.

Alan Roberts 

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