The Dallas Banjo Ukulele
1856 John E. Dallas started to make banjos with J E. Brewster in a small workshop in
London's Oxford Street in 1873 and two years later set up as a publisher and banjo maker
at 415 Strand, from which address it is said he made banjos for the Moore & Burgess
Minstrels and the Mohawk Minstrels. Dallas was a fine wood craftsman who fashioned some
exceptionally high-class banjos and zither-banjos.
By 1893 the demand for his instruments made it necessary for him to take over the entire
premises at 415 Strand; enlarge. his workshops; and employ men to make the large range of
instruments he had put on the market. For some years he advertised that he personally
tested every banjo and zither-banjo before it left his workshops.
At the height of the banjo boom he was making banjos and zither-banjos for other firms and
teachers and some of the latter whose "branded" instruments were made for them
by Dallas included W.H Plumbridge (Brighton), J. E. Brewster (London) and Norton Greenop
(London). In 1905-6 the three sons of John E. Dallas were rewarded for their work with the
firm and were given directorships and the firm's title changed to John E. Dallas &
In February 1914 the firm moved to 202 High Holborn and by the late 1920's the banjos and
zither-banjos bearing the company's name were truly mass-produced instruments and started
to bear the trade name of "Jedson." John E. Dallas died in 1921 and in August of
that year the firm became a private limited company. Soon the activities of the company
had spread far beyond the fretted instruments and with it came growth. In 1926 the firm
moved to larger premises , at 6-10 Betterton Street, Covent Garden, London, W.C.2 and
there started to lay the foundation for the large wholesale distribution of everything
musical for which the firm is today known. In 1937 the house of Dallas moved to Ridgmount
Street and finally to Clifton Street, E.C.2. In June 1947 John E. Dallas & Sons Ltd.
became a public company with an issued share capital of £500,000.
With the outbreak of World War II, Dallas ceased to make banjos but in 1947 they started
to produce in small quantities the inexpensive banjos which have been sold by music shops
throughout the country. These -bear the "Jedson" trade mark but are in no way
comparable to the pre-war instruments bearing the same name. It was in 1963 that the
Houghton works in Birmingham were closed down and George Houghton set up workshops for the
Dallas company at Bexleyheath, Kent and it was from here that most of the post-war banjos
bearing the Dallas name have been made.
A whole range of Dallas Banjo Ukuleles were made bearing the name and autograph of George
Formby. Shown below is the Dallas Catalogue showing the range and price of the
instruments. Each of these models will be shown on the following pages.
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