Big banjo bid strikes a chord

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DRACULA, the Abbey and the whalebones are all icons of Whitby, but one local man is hoping to add to that list.

Richard Ineson, of Church Street, claims to possess the world’s largest banjo, and is hoping to get into the Guinness World Records with his giant instrument.

He said: “I thought I might submit it to them.

“It’s about 26.5 inches across the drum and it stands about five feet high.

“There were only five ever made, there’s only two left in the UK and the other one’s smaller.

“I’ve been in the banjo business since 1961 and I have never seen one bigger.”

Banjos were a big society craze in the late 19th century and Mr Ineson believes it was made in 1910 by Clifford Essex, a renowned music company who made banjos for royalty and nobility.

Mr Ineson continued to trace the story: “It was in a banjo band that went to the First World War to entertain the troops.

“The bloke who was playing it was called Wally Ogden and it actually got buried after the bunker got hit by a shell and they thought the banjo was lost.

“When they dug it all out again they found the tunnel was still there and they managed to get the banjo back, so it’s been through the wars.”

The 101 year old instrument is still in working condition and Mr Ineson regularly plays it at festivals, including one last weekend in Clowne, Derbyshire.

In a strange twist, the largest banjo in the world may actually live with Mr Ineson in the smallest inhabited house in England.

He said: “The official one is in Conway, in Wales, but no one lives in it any more and it’s just a tourist attraction.

“It’s 2.7 metres wide and square metre by square metre I pay the highest council tax of anybody in England.

“My family has been in Whitby since 1420 and my relations used to live just across the road so I wanted to live on Church Street and all the houses are small here, but mine’s the smallest.”

The Gazette contacted the Guinness World Records for a comment, but received no response at the time of going to print.