Unique glimpse into the inside of a banjo-crafting workshop

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Instrument makers, Geoff Ransome

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Instrument makers, Geoff Ransome, left, and Fraser Knight. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Inspired by a tale of heroism and adventure, two banjoneers from Norfolk are putting their heart and soul into creating hand-crafted musical instruments.

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Fraser Knight shaping the neck.

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Fraser Knight shaping the neck. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Based at their workshop in Hellesdon, on the outskirts of Norwich, Geoff Ransome and Fraser Knight painstakingly spend their days making bespoke banjos and guitars.

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Fraser Knight shaping the neck.

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Fraser Knight shaping the neck. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The Shackleton Instrument workshop is named after the great Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton and looks like something out of a country and western film.

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Shackleton is said to have described his ship's banjo as 'vital mental medicine' and insisted on rescuing the instrument when his ship Endurance was crushed and sunk by Antarctic pack ice in 1915.

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Fraser Knight turning the banjo'

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Fraser Knight turning the banjo's body. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Two gruelling years later Shackleton brought all his men home alive and the original banjo, which was autographed by Shackleton and his men, now resides in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Fraser Knight shaping the banjo'

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Fraser Knight shaping the banjo's body. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant


You may also want to watch:


As a child, chief designer and banjoneer Mr Ransome pestered his family for a guitar and after receiving one at the age of 11 he promptly dismantled it.

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Geoff Ransome checking the banjo

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Geoff Ransome checking the banjo rim.. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

This pattern continued until the age of 15 when he made his first instrument.

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Geoff Ransome finishing the banj

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Geoff Ransome finishing the banjo rim. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Most Read

He went on to study classical musical instrument technology and fine craft and design.

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Geoff Ransome with the company s

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Geoff Ransome with the company signature snowflake logo on a banjo head. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

And workshop manager and banjoneer, Mr Knight, moved from Scotland having spent years studying furniture craft and design at college and university.

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Geoff Ransome picking the wood.

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Geoff Ransome picking the wood. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

- To find out more about Shackleton Instruments visit www.shackletoninstruments.com.

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Geoff Ransome planing the wood.

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Geoff Ransome planing the wood. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Geoff Ransome planing the wood.

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Geoff Ransome planing the wood. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Geoff Ransome marking the patter

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Geoff Ransome marking the pattern onto the wood. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Fraser Knight shaping the neck.

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Fraser Knight shaping the neck. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Fraser Knight shaping the neck.

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Fraser Knight shaping the neck. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Making a banjo at Shackleton Instruments, Hellesdon Barns, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter