Briggs and Tarr in West Yorkshire

Taken from London Era December 7th 1889

Taken from London Era December 7th 1889

Whilst doing some research on Wakefield double bass maker James Briggs, I came across a small advert relating to him having a shop in Albion Street in Leeds with Tarr. It is well known that Briggs apprenticed with William Tarr before moving back to Wakefield. By 1889 Briggs had moved to Leeds, however William Tarr was no longer able to work at this point. I found that Shelley Tarr, one of William’s sons had two children, Cora Tarr (born 1888 in Wakefield) and Lily Tarr (born 1890 in Leeds). This corresponds not only to Briggs’ whereabouts, and the advert in the London Era, but also the same time as Briggs started making double basses in the style of Tarr. So it would be probable that they worked together once William became too ill to work.

By the time the census of 1891 came around, the Tarr’s were back in Manchester following William’s passing, and Briggs was to move to Glasgow, Scotland in 1893.

It’s an interesting but short lived partnership for West Yorkshire double bass making, which also culminated with both Briggs and Tarr showing a double bass at the Leeds Exhibition of 1890.

The latest Strad magazine has an extensive history about the Northern School of making, which I was able to contribute this research to.

Neal Heppleston