Treasure of the week no. 27: Full dress subscription concert, February 1886

In the basement of Bradford’s Local Studies Library are collections of nineteenth century pamphlets (and some of earlier date). Ranging from sermons and programmes of royal visits, to reports, articles, obituaries and regulations, they are a treasure trove of local history. What follows is an account of one of these treasures. To consult any of these items please ask the staff. Catalogues of these collections are located in the Local Studies Library.

BRADFORD SUBSCRIPTION CONCERTS. Full Dress Subscription Concert. 21st season, 1885-6. February 12th. Vocal and Instrumental Music. Printed by John Dale & Co. of Bradford, 1886. 24 pages.

JND 1/16 (Please quote this number if requesting this item when we are open again)



A healthy cultural life was a measure of the success and standing of Britain’s Victorian towns. An important cultural institution in Bradford was its Subscription Concerts held in the St George’s Hall. The 24-page pamphlet JND 1/16 in the Dickons Collection is a programme from the 21st season. So what went on in February 1886? In typical wordy Victorian fashion we start with the Regulations:

With a view to facilitate the INGRESS and EGRESS … the GRAND ENTRANCE is exclusively appropriated to the visitors to the STALLS. Holders of Tickets bearing ODD NUMBERS will proceed to their seats by the Stairs on the RIGHT HAND SIDE of the Grand Entrance. Subscribers having Tickets with the EVEN NUMBERS will proceed on the LEFT HAND SIDE.

And further: Private Conveyances and Engaged Conveyances must fall into line as usual in Hall Ings, and there wait till called for. Finally, The Police have strict instructions to enforce the above Regulations. By Order, THOMAS HILL, Mayor.

Then comes a list of SUBSCRIBERS to the STALLS: 210 of Bradford’s Good and the Great, including such luminaries as Sir Jacob Behrens, Julius Delius and W E B Priestley. This is followed by RESERVED AREA SUBSCRIBERS, another 210, and then SUBSCRIBERS FOR THE WEST GALLERY, 105 of them.

And who did they see and what did they hear? Vocalists Madame Trebelli, Miss Carlotta Elliott, Mr Henry Guy and Mr Maybrick; Señor Sarasate (Violin), Signor Bottesini (Contra-Bass), and Mr W G Cusins (Pianoforte) accompanied by Signor Bisaccia. Texts and translations are given of the songs. Composers included Chopin, Gounod, Sarasate, Gluck, Bottesini and Rossini. The Pianoforte was ‘kindly provided by Messrs John Brinsmead & Sons’.

The printed programme ends with a timetable of ’Railway Arrangements’ for those without their own conveyances. The 11.20 Lancashire and Yorkshire service was to call at Cleckheaton, Liversedge, Heckmondwike, Thornhill, Horbury and Wakefield; and the 11.25 at Wyke, Lightcliffe, Hipperholme, Sowerby Bridge, North Dean, Elland, Brighouse and Mirfield (though not, I suspect, in that order!). Times are also given for the Midland and Great Northern train services.

And so ended a February’s evening’s cultural entertainment in Bradford.


2 thoughts on “Treasure of the week no. 27: Full dress subscription concert, February 1886

  1. The ‘Mr Maybrick’ among the list of vocalists was presumably singer and composer Michael Maybrick. He was the brother of Liverpool cotton merchant James Maybrick whose wife Florence may, or may not, have murdered him. Michael himself may (according to a recent book) have been Jack the Ripper!

    Liked by 1 person

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