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Hobgoblin Music was born in 1976, when Mannie and Pete McClelland were looking for a concertina to buy, but could not find one. The McClellands began to envisage a type of folk music supermarket, where you could walk among shelves and shelves of folk instruments, accessories and tune books, acquiring everything you needed to play folk under one roof. Hobgoblin Music began humbly at the Burgess Hill Market while Pete was working at an engineering firm and Mannie was teaching. The name was Mannie’s idea, and it caught on fast. As demand grew, Hobgoblin upgraded to a barn in Ifield Wood, and then in 1977 to the first proper shop in Northgate, Crawley, which moved to Brighton in 2015.
Gradually the company began to grow, and a London branch was opened in 1992 when Hobgoblin took over the running of the ‘The Folk Shop’ in Cecil Sharp House, in collaboration with the EFDSS. Eventually the shop outgrew this premises, and moved to Rathbone Place, where it still remains. The London shop stocks the full Hobgoblin range of weird and wonderful folky things, but in addition has strong leanings towards handmade fretted instruments of all sorts, and wind and percussion instruments from around the world.
Each branch has its own feel, for example Canterbury and Edinburgh branches have a big rock'n'roll offering, Southampton has a good trade in unusual stringed folky instruments, Birmingham has a specialist classical woodwind department, and Leeds has a specialist violin department.
Hobgoblin now has nine UK shops and sells to customers online all over the world, and Mannie did eventually find her concertina, a Jeffries Anglo, and still plays it to this day.