Jack Robinson (1897-1943)

photo of seated man in a dinner jacket holding one end of a saw betwen his thighs and the other end in his raised left hand. In his right hand is a bow which he is holding against the saw. A ukelele is on a stand in the background

England's foremost musical saw expert

Jack Wharton Robinson was born in Blackpool in 1897 and moved to Liverpool during the 1920s. As well as being a hairdresser he was the first Englishman to play the musical saw professionally. He lived in Solway Street, off Lodge Lane, Liverpool 8, where he owned a barber's shop.

Jack played many different stringed instruments including the ukulele and double bass, but the musical saw was his speciality.

During the ballroom boom of the 1920s and 1930s Jack would perform solo and with orchestras at many different venues across the North West. These included Harry Wood's Grand Band at The Palace in Douglas, Isle of Man and Bert Pearson's Band at Reece's Ballroom in Liverpool. In July 1930 Jack performed solo in a concert for charities including the Seamen's Orphanage, Liverpool, held on board the RMS Duchess of York.

He continued to work as a hairdresser and musician until his death in 1943.

Jack's musical saw and bow were donated to the museum in 2002 together with photographs and newscuttings about his musical career. The saw may look like an everyday object, it is about one metre in length with Jack Robinson's initials engraved on the handle. However it is brought to life by the photographs and people's observations from the time.

Many newspapers reported on Jack's unusual specialism, commenting that he could obtain "quite sweet music" on the saw, producing a "strikingly beautiful and bell-like" sound. One referred to Jack as:

"a wonderful executant on this unique instrument, which is neither more nor less than a carpenter's saw."

A silver tankard belonging to Jack Robinson was also collected by the museum in 2002. It is engraved 'to J W Robinson, firewatcher, Liverpool 1941-42 from Margaret Countess of Mayo'. We know very little about why Jack was given this tankard other than what can be read from the inscription.

Musicians in dinner jackets on a large stage with a picture of a landscape framed by the columns of classical buildings as the backdrop

Harry Wood's Grand Band at The Palace in Douglas, Isle of Man. Jack is sitting in the front row, fifth from left.