CHAPTER 4: Dulcimers in the British Isles since 1800 > Dulcimers in London

Two dulcimer families meet

When Nick's son, Ted, was about 12, he started getting interested in the dulcimer, so Nick propped it up on a table and taught Ted to play, holding the youngster's hands in his own; once he had got going on his own, he used to stand the instrument in the big old fireplace and got a good resonance that way. In fact, he never got on very well with the hammers, and soon discarded them in favour of his fingers: he had in any event always wanted to be a banjoist.

"From the age of fourteen, I was always bashing away at it: I used to get home from school in time to play in the front room window ... for the girls who used to come home from the wire works ... the London Electric Wire Works it was ... the girls used to stop and dance outside the house, about a dozen of 'em ... jigs, you know, larking about. When was it? Oh ... 53 years ago: you're making me feel too old!"

At about the same time in another part of the same district Charles Simpson, who was of the same generation as Nick Carter, was another active dulcimer-player, who doubled on banjo, and whose son played the mandolin. He also played with hammers, standing up, and the family used to have "Saturday night do's" in the back kitchen.

His daughter went to the local Sunday School, and in the Bible class at the age of 14, she met Ted Carter, and they became friends; eventually they discovered they both had connections with dulcimers, and Ted was invited to join in with the Simpsons on Saturday nights. As Ted reflects:

"I think that's how I learnt, because if we started round their house, three hours later I was still playing".

"0h, they'd play all night, oh, hours and hours and hours; and hours and hours!"

adds Charles' daughter, now Mrs. Ted Carter.

"It used to sound smashing!"

"He used to play the tunes ..."

"We all used to sing to it"

"... and I'd play the arpeggios ..."

"It was a sound you wouldn't hear now, not never; but he never played anywhere else, never took it outside the door. Oh, we had some wonderful times!"