1920s Windsor Whirle Banjo Model 8000 “Victor Supremus”

Rod Davis was the banjo player in The Quarrymen skiffle group from about 1956-57. Old photographs show Davis playing a 1920’s Windsor Whirle Model 8000 “Victor Supremus” Banjo.
During the early 20th century, there were about 100 banjo manufacturers in Britain, ranging from individual craftsmen to factories employing scores of workers. One of the biggest manufacturers was the Windsor Company of Birmingham.
The founder, Arthur Octavius Windsor, had a small factory making coffin "furniture.” His hobby was playing the banjo. When the instrument became universally popular, Windsor created and constructed his own Banjo designs. Enthusiasts snapped up the instruments and eventually Windsor set up an instrument factory on Newhall Street in Birmingham, U.K.
The firm had a wide range of banjos, zither-banjos, banjolins and mandolin-banjos because they gave a large discount on catalogue prices. As a result, many people could afford one of their models. Their lower-priced instruments became known in the trade as "pawnshop banjos" since they could often be found on sale for as much as 50% below their already low catalogue price.
The Windsor firm was in existence for nearly 50 years but ceased to exist in December 1940 when the factory was destroyed during a German air raid in World War II. Until then, Windsor was probably the largest manufacturer of fretted instruments in Britain, producing thousands of banjos each year.
In an interesting symmetry, Beatles folklore has it that John Lennon’s mother, Julia, taught the young lad how to play on her Windsor Whirle Banjo, which could even have been the same model.
The 1920’s Windsor Whirle Banjo Model 8000 “Victor Supremus” in our collection is identical to the one used by Rod Davis.
Rod Davis photographed on stage with The Quarrymen. He is standing just behind John Lennon’s right elbow. Davis is looking down intently while playing his 1920’s Windsor Whirle Banjo Model 800 “Victor Supremus”

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