Friday, 22 March 2013

Search for the Manchester music man!

Star of the show, Bob Ainscow!
Does the name 'Ainscow' ring a bell with anyone? In particular a Bob Ainscow from Manchester who was a playwright and musician during the First World War? If so, Australian family historian Debbie Gower would be delighted to hear from you.

The Bob Ainscow she would like to track down, a relative of hers, was an attraction at the Patricroft Picture House, near Manchester (right) where he was billed as a 'descriptive vocalist' who would 'render patriotics songs by request'. 

He was also the uncle of Ernest Ainscow, an Australian soldier whose letters Debbie has sent me for my book. Ernest was born in Manchester in 1899 and emigrated to Australia nine years later with his family: father Richard, mother Eliza, two sisters and a younger brother. Ernest was close to his sister Lucretia and wrote letters to her when he joined up. Like their uncle, it seems they both loved music.

Lucretia and Ernest Ainscow in 1916
'I have got some bonzer music here for you,' he wrote from Brisbane, shortly before departing for Europe. 'Miss Manwaring got it for me last week and she is going to play it for me before I sent it, so as to see if I like it.' A few months later in England he sent back more letters that were full of praise for the shows he saw locally while at army training camp at Hurdcott in Wiltshire. You'll be able to read them in my book.

While in England Ernest also paid a visit to Manchester and may even have called in on another relative Debbie wants to track down, a cousin called Hercules.

In June1917 Ernest finally landed in France but tragically he didn't last long. Within two months he had died of wounds sustained in battle. There is now a creek and a road named after him in his Australian home town of Cairns, in Queensland.

If anyone has any information about Bob Ainscow or Hercules, please get in touch with me at and I shall put you in touch with Debbie Gower.

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