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‘Fiddle Sticks’ exhibition opened this weekend

After the launch of the book “The Hill Bow Makers: 1880 – 1962” earlier this year, Beare’s bow restorer Derek Wilson and co-author John Milnes opened their ‘Fiddle Sticks’ exhibition in Oxford this weekend. The exhibition focuses on the story of bow making at the Hill firm and even features a recreated workshop space.


Bows at W.E. Hill & Sons

The firm was founded by William Ebsworth Hill, whose father, grandfather and great-grandfather had made violins, violas and cellos in London since around 1750. Four of William’s sons, Arthur, Alfred, William and Walter, joined their father in the family firm.

For nearly a century the Hill firm had London showrooms in New Bond Street, where the world’s musicians came to buy and sell historic instruments and bows by the great Italian, French and English makers.

The Hills also built a large workshop in Hanwell (Ealing), in West London, to make new instruments, bows and accessories. Eventually the firm employed up to 50 people in the two establishments.

This exhibition focuses on their success as bow makers in the period 1880-1962 and features their most influential bow maker: William Charles Retford (1875-1970).


The exhibition is open from 3rd – 30th September 2016 at Bate Collection, OXFORD OX1 1DB.

'Fiddle sticks' exhibition