Liverpool History Society Questions

A selection of Liverpool history questions submitted to the Liverpool History Society

Rushworth`s Request for information

My name is Mrs Irene Henshaw and I worked at Rushworth and Draper from 1937 (when I was 18 years old and my name was Miss Platt) to 1941 when the war meant that I had to leave to work at the Ministry of Food.

Rushworths was a very significant part of my young life in Liverpool and I have very fond memories of my job there and the many characters I worked with.

My first role was in the organ works on Great George Street – a marvellous place. I remember the apprentice organ builders and George Hutchins the Manager of the organ works who tested them. I recall sitting alongside him on the organ bench while he played, urging him to ‘swing it’ a bit! The men were highly skilled craftsman – my bosses Mr Rackham and Mr Parker were university graduates. Every room contained organ pipes and the various elements that went into the build – it was very complicated. When the war came, the organ works was closed because it was felt that organs were luxury items and there would be no call for them. The Sheet Music Department was also a very important part of the business.

When the organ works closed, I went to work in the shop on Islington where they sold radiograms, I then worked in the publicity department – scouring the newspapers for any reference to Rushworth and Draper and keeping the cuttings – and I also worked for a short spell in the basement trying to sell, would you believe, washing machines and industrial sized ironing boards! This idea was Mr James Rushworth’s – he thought it would be a money spinner but it didn’t work. I also remember Maynard Rushworth who gave piano lessons.
One of my friends was Miss Rae Davies who worked in the Box Office managing all the ticket sales for shows around the country and for the Liverpool theatres too. Miss Davies shared the Box Office with a parrot that greeted customers – a company gimmick – it used to irritate her terribly.

As well as serving all things musical, Rushworths had a strong connection with the theatres and with visiting actors. Rushworth Hall was used by artistes for rehearsals and many famous names of the day passed through the doors including Michael Redgrave; Malcolm Sargent was also a regular visitor.

Rushworth’s cared for their employees – although the pay wasn’t brilliant. As well as a staff restaurant serving excellent food, there was a rest room for female employees who might have a tummy ache and need a hot water bottle and a lie down. There was also an annual company sports day.

Alison Henshaw on behalf of Irene Henshaw


30/04/2010 - Posted by | Rushworth`s Request for information


  1. Just enquiring about a Rushwoth & Draper Music Festival Hall which I remember attending with my piano teacher for exams when I was a young girl in the 1950's. I remember coming out of Liverpool Lime Street Station going past the Empire Theatre and it was at the top of that road, but I visited the Theatre last week and couln't quite make out where it used to be. I seem to recall a history room being in this hall with all the old pianos in it. Would love to know if anyone else remembers it.

    Comment by Memories | 11/10/2010 | Reply

  2. Jonathan
    I have just obtained a large package of letters (personal and business) relating to the Rushworths.

    Key names: Edwin Rushworth, Rev W A Rushworth, Alice Rushworth/Mrs Strutt & Rushworth and Dreaper – including a business valuation and stock transfers. Would be happy to pass them to you if they are of use.
    If you would like them, leave me a comment as to how I can get in touch and forward them to you.
    Best wishes,
    Joy Barrett

    Comment by Joy Barrett | 28/05/2011 | Reply

  3. Jonathan, No doubt you know already, but the Rushworth and Dreapers Apollo reed organ was one of the best reed organs series ever made and are still incredibly popular to this day in reed organ circles. Typing in Rushworth Apollo organ will bring up a great multitude of sites, the “tardis” http address one has a great deal of information about these instruments such as copies of original advertisements and specifications.
    Hope its of some interest to you :)
    You might be interested to know Im doing extensive restoration work on one of your familys Apollo organs, some fool left it out in the rain for what must have been a long time… to contact me if you ever are interested


    Comment by Liverpool History Society Questions | 29/09/2011 | Reply

  4. My grandfather Frederick Salmon of Liverpool worked for Rushworth and Dreapers as an organ builder in the 1940’s and I was hoping someone would be able to pass on ANY photos or information about him as I am researching his life. My father, Frederick’s son, immigrated to Australia in the late 1960’s and therefore ANY information would be appreciated as all of his family in Australia would like to have some information/photos to pass onto to our future generations.

    Thanking you in anticipation,

    Best regards,
    Michelle E

    Comment by Michelle E | 25/01/2012 | Reply

  5. Hi Tom,

    yes that’s my Web site. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been given information by many Apollo owners. I’m always keen to find out more and help if I can. David Wilde who is in the ex. organ works I believe has one still in stock and I know of one for sale in Devon. I am based in Warrington, so not far from Liverpool. We always try to save these wonderful instruments if we can.

    Best wishes – Rob

    Comment by Rob | 11/02/2012 | Reply

  6. Dear Alison Henshaw,

    could you please contact me at

    Many thanks,


    Comment by Nicholas Wong | 11/04/2012 | Reply

  7. I would love to learn more about the history of the family. Always fascinated me, especially as he is my namesake

    James Rushworth

    Comment by James Rushworth | 13/04/2012 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: