In 1977 he moved to a larger property, complete with dedicated workshop, in Essex. Here he continued innovations in construction and restoration and added to the array of equipment he had amassed (from reclaimed Victorian bellows presses to bespoke engineered items and tools he made himself) to create his flagship concertinas: Anglo, English and Duet systems renowned for their durable construction and powerful brass reed frames and finished with sustainably sourced solid ebony and stainless steel ends - the perfect quality instruments.
Capturing the spirit of the entrepreneurial 80s, mid-decade he ceased to trade as plain old John Connor, Concertina Maker and began to be known as Connor Concertinas, sending instruments (including many bespoke commissions) as far and wide as Ireland, Germany, the USA, Japan and Australia. In 1987 he extended his range to include a lightweight 'student' model Anglo (still sporting the luxury finish of solid ebony, but with lighter alloy reeds and aluminium ends) and a homage to the classic Jeffries Anglo, complete with 19th-century patterned bellows papers and real gold leaf detailing. Concentrating on quality of craftsmanship over volume, there are perhaps fewer of his instruments in circulation than those of other makers, but he would not have had it any other way and takes pride in the small legacy he has left the concertina world.
...after a decade of dedication to the artistic pursuits of wood carving and guitar making (including a replica of a rare Stradivarius guitar commissioned by Thurston Dart for the music department of King's College, London), John happened upon an old Jeffries concertina that he had the idea of renovating. Most of it he managed, but the bellows were proving tricky, so he took it to H. Crabb and Son of 158 Liverpool Road for advice. Impressed with the work he had done, they offered him a job on the spot. Working alongside Harry and Neville and in daily contact with characters like the music hall great Tommy Williams, by 1971 he had truly mastered the art of bellows construction. By 1972 he had made his first complete instrument and on leaving Crabb's in 1973, was adept at every aspect of concertina making.
Having retired in 2015, John no longer makes new instruments for sale, nor does he undertake commissions. However, he does have a small number of concertinas in his private collection – all top-of-the-range and in mint condition – that he may be willing to part with.