Allen Irwin was born in Sydney Australia in 1960. After schooling at Sydney Boy’s High (’73-’78), he did the usual working holiday trip to the UK and there managed to talk ‘the powers that be’ into allowing him to attend the Violin Making Course at The London Metropolitan University in Commercial Rd. Allen financed the first two years himself from his paperboy run and was aided by the Australia Council for the second half of the study with an International Fellowship Grant. He graduated in 1983; the first student to complete the full Diploma/Higher Diploma combination 4 year course. A two year stint at Boosey & Hawkes of Regent St London was followed by three more years at Palings in Sydney until he decided it was time to put his skills to the proper test by opening his own workshop. That was achieved in 1988 and he is now into his second quarter century in Edgecliff!
Jim Ellender was born in Peterborough England in 1949 and emigrated to Australia more than 40 years ago, settling in Sydney NSW. He worked initially as a professional musician (electric and double bass) in the then club industry followed by a stint in both the retail (WH Paling & Co) and wholesale music industry. His interest in orchestral string instrument repair and restoration started with encouragement from Alan Riley at the Bass Shop in the years 1981 to 1986 and in 1987 he opened his own retail shop in Croydon NSW (Violin Sales & Repairs). While running the business there he developed a keen interest in the bow. He was later assisted by US bow maker George Rubino in the finer points of the craft of bow making while on a visit to Australia 1992/93. In 2006 Jim closed his shop at Croydon and joined Allen at Irwin Violins in Edgecliff to concentrate on bow making plus provide a complete repair/restoration service for the bow.