History of the Collection

William Bentley (1862-1935) was a keen amateur musician who came to Birmingham in 1889 as a clerk to a firm of solicitors. He soon became an active member of the Birmingham Amateur Society whose conductor, George Halford, was a teacher at the newly established Birmingham School of Music. In 1907 he was made an Honorary Librarian of the Birmingham School of Music (the school’s first) and was elected to the Council of the Institute, joining the School of Music Committee the following year.

His enthusiasm for music and for developing the activities of the school left its mark in many different ways, including encouraging the formation of a musical instruments collection. By that stage, the collection included the Dodd bows and a number of instruments he donated, although it is unclear whether they belonged to him or whether he procured them on behalf of the School.

Among these instruments are the Flageolet, the Hastrick Double Flageolet and the Cahusac Fife.

In the first catalogue of the historical instruments (1953), some of the items which Bentley donated are also noted as being from the Shareshill Church Collection.

It is believed that this collection formed a gallery band for Shareshill, Staffordshire. The instruments include the Bilton Piccolo and Clarinets by Fentum and Cramer.