The Strange Case of John Medling's Double Bass

Whilst doing research I came across this odd little story.

Transcribed from Huddersfield Chronicle, Monday 13th April 1891



At Leigh County Court, last Friday, before Judge Ffoulkes, the case of Beaumont v. Medling came on for hearing. This was a claim for teaching the defendant how to make violins, and also how to play the same from music. Mr. Grundy represented the plaintiff, and Mr. Whittingham defended. Plaintiff's case was that he told defendant what kind of wood was necessary, and he replied that he had two beech planks in the backyard which would do for the body of the double-bass, and an old cart shaft, which would do for the neck. Defendant also purchased some deal, and then the instructions began. Defendant was in a great hurry to finish the instrument, and when he had finished gluing the belly, it was found he had forgotten to take out the glue pot. The neck was made from the cart shaft, according to instructions; but defendant fixed it on the wrong end of the instrument. After everything was prepared for the strings, plaintiff told defendant to go to a music shop for them; but instead of doing so, he went to a watchmaker's, and got the catgut rope of an old eight-day clock. He put this string on, and when he was winding it up to tune the fiddle, the string broke, struck him in the face, and gave him a black eye. When all was completed, it was found that defendant had made the instrument so large that he could not get it out of the room. After hearing a mass of evidence on both sides, his Honour gave judgement for the plaintiff for £3.16s., and for the defendant on a counter-claim for 3s. 6d., which had been paid into court.

Neal HepplestonComment