I've been playing and working with organs since around 1972, not only church and theatre pipe organs and reed organs, but free reed instruments - harmonica, concertina, accordion, bandoneon etc. too. I wanted to build my own, but had to get a ``proper'' job, so went to university and specialised as a physicist leaving music for my spare time. Unfortunately that time became used up with many other hobbies (as well as responsibilities at work). So despite everything, here I am back after 30 years and trying to compile some of the information I know about reed organs in England with help from the many other enthusiasts world wide who have collected and catalogued information in the Reed Organ Society archives since 1983 and the British Institute of Organ Studies. I hope you find it interesting. Please let me know more information so that we can make these collections more accurate and complete.

The information in these pages is given in good faith and is as accurate as possible for any such kind of historical research. A lot of data is taken from what has been published in various ways by other researchers and has been used to build up the most complete picture possible. Whilst un-expected at the start, I have now realised that such an on-line resource is useful for family history research and I have indeed been contacted by descendants of several of the makers featured here. I have also been contacted by individuals themselves who have been involved in one way or another in the story. If you believe that you are the original source of any of this information and you have reasons to object to my using it, please contact me directly via (replace ``_at_'' with ``@''). Please also contact me if you can add to the story.

Organisation of the Site

Following a general introduction to the subject, this site will concentrate on an encyclopaedic treatise of instruments produced by English (and in the broader perspective British) reed organ builders. For a large number of the builders or constructors (we attempt to differentiate, but the Gellerman Atlas is not always clear [84]) the whereabouts of any remaining instruments is not known. In this case we have included a very simple statement that the maker is believed to have existed, which we hope will stimulate communication on organs which match the descriptions given.

We provide an ``active map'' to locate the main manufacturing centres and geographical areas of interest. Active Map here. To find an exact location on historic maps of an area try this Web site: You might need to be precise, e.g. search for ``london road, canterbury, england''.

The chapters in the rest of this site are as follows:

I have decided not to comment on the influence of reed organs in Victorian society. This is a huge area of musicology and social anthropology research and I would not be capable of doing it justice being neither a historian nor a social scientist. An introduction is however given in Arthur Ord-Hume's book [144] for anyone interested in following it up. The position of the Harmonium in French industry, finance and society is covered in great depth in the thesis by Michael Dieterlen [43]. The situation in USA has been researched in similar depth by Dennis G. Waring and eloquently explained in his book Manufacturing the Muse: Estey Organs and Consumer Culture in Victorian America [201].

Similarly the processes used and conditions for employees in Victorian factories is not something that I could easily research. I am sure those looking at the piano and furniture manufacturing industries would provide a picture of what this was like.

Familiar Makers

I have selected a number of makers who have produced significant output for one reason or another. They are described in separate chapters as follows.

G.L. Bauer

There is now sufficient information to include a separate chapter on Bauer who was an important builder of fine English harmoniums.

J.B. Cramer

There is now sufficient information to include a separate chapter on J.B. Cramer and Co. Ltd. It is still not known if Cramer actually manufactured any of the featured instruments.

Wm. Hill and Sons - the story of the Vocalion

Highest quality reed organ by a top pipe-organ builder based on British patents.

J. Hillier

There is now sufficient information to include a separate chapter on Hillier.

John Holt and Sons

Many large bespoke instruments built to an exceptional quality.

J. and A.E. Humphreys

I have now included this maker separately because of the importance of some of the less well known instruments built.

Imperial Piano and Organ Co.

This company is also now included, as I have discovered that they built a number of significant 2M and 2MP instruments many sold with other shop labels.

John Malcolm

There is now sufficient information to include a separate chapter on Malcolm Organs.

J.W. Reed

A Victorian scientist, minister and musical instrument maker. His contribution to reed organs seems to have been far reaching.

Jacob and William Sames

Wm. Sames Ltd. of Birmingham were prolific but often over-looked manufacturers.

J.W. Sawyer

The ultimate reed organ built to exacting standards, very ambitious specifications and exceptional reed voicing.

Crane and Sons and the Spencers

The University Organ was a very popular 2- or 3-manual practice instrument built to a standard design over a long period. We believe that they were built by Spencer of Manchester.

R. Stather

A number of diverse instruments are known by this maker.

R.F. Stevens

Very large number of organs built for every situation and some with a modern appearance.

Rushworth and Dreaper

High quality Apollo Organs by another top pipe organ builder.

Updates in this Edition

New stuff

More to follow.

December 2022

December 2021

December 2020

December 2019

December 2018

23/6/2018: Sadly, Henry Willis 4th, known as Henry 4, died today aged 91. He was the last in line of the famous Willis organ builders responsible for the largest British pipe organs in Royal Albert Hall and St. Pauls Cathedral, London, St. Georges Hall and the Cathedral Church of the Risen Christ, Liverpool. We note that ``Father Willis'' the founder of the firm built a 2MP reed organ, see Chapter 4.2.

In Nov'2018 I discovered the music of Norwegian composer Mons Leidvin Takle. See and listen on YouTube. It works wonderfully on my 3MP Spencer reed organ and is very much to my taste.

Information is required about all the following makers.

In Dec'2018 I added more illustrations to the Canada chapter. Robert Stather has now been upgraded to a separate chapter with more pictures of case styles. There are also similar improvements to the chapters on John Malcolm and Wm. Sames.

The following updates were confirmed Dec'2017, there have only seen minor additions and corrections since then.

Other Reed Organ Sites

Where can we find out about reed organs in other countries?

Obvious first call is the Reed Organ Society They have extensive databases and information mostly focussed on USA and Canada, but much more too.
Canada: compiled by Rod Fudge from the Canadian Encyclopedia. This was updated by Rodney Jantzi
Bienvenue sur le Wiki de l'Harmonium
L'Harmonium Française
Comprehensive Schiedmayer history collected by Frans van der Grijn
Some information from Ivan Furlanis
Netherlands Harmonium Vereniging
Klaverens Hus belyser vår klaverkultur. Produktionen av instrument är industrihistoria, och produkterna de klaver vi inte längre tillverkar.

Please let us know of other on-line knowledge bases, or if you would like to start one for your country of origin.

Comments received

Here is what some contributors have said about this site to date.

Jack Stone, 4/7/2020 May I first take this opportunity to thank you for maintaining such an interesting and informative database on reed organs and harmoniums. The volume of scholarship and research on the subject is un paralleled across the internet. It's been a regular page I have frequented for years!

Rodney Jantzi, 17/1/2017: I have finally had the chance to look over your latest updates to your web site, which of course the Canadian section was of great interest. A very fine job, plaudits to you and thank you so much for sharing your work with all of us reed organ fanatics.

Robert Lucas, 10/3/2016: Many thanks for your wonderful site! I have played pressure harmonium for over 50 years, starting with a 2 manual Mustel...

Paul Carey, USA, 16/1/2016: Great job with your Web site and I appreciate your including me in it.

Fr. Darragh Connolly, Ireland, 19/12/2015: I enjoy putting the website together alright. It makes for great contacts. I find the reed organ restoration community very helpful. It is certainly thriving around the world not so much in Ireland. As far as I know I am the only one restoring them to the extent that I do. There are others interested but none restoring that I know of.

Malcolm Hall, Kent, 7/10/2015: I was ``browsing'' the Web recently, and happened upon your interesting site listing various reed organs and their builders. I have worked in the pipe organ trade for many years at the Kent based Company of F.H. Browne & Sons Ltd., and have owned and restored several American reed organs during my career.

Martin Layton, USA, 5/10/2015: Many thanks for the email and information... Now, with your help, I have what I need.

David Aprahamian Liddle, N.London, 28/2/2015: I stumbled across your Web site and was hooked for the entire afternoon! I am a blind organist and composer based in North London. Since 1976, when I was 15, I have owned a two-manual and pedal reed organ built by John Holt.

Heather Minion, Illinois, USA, 14/2/2015: Thank you for your response. Yes, it would be fine to add my name as the new owner of this Apollo. You must have done an enormous amount of research and work to build such a fantastic Web site! I have spent time mostly in the Apollo section so far, but there is a lot more I would like to read.

John Vallings, New Zealand, 7/1/2015: Very useful thanks.

Louis Huivenaar, Netherlands, 7/1/2015: Thanks again for all your input. Again good to read and to know all you have brought in.

Rod Fudge, USA, 7/1/2015: Many thanks for sending along your web site update. You've got a great web site. It's loaded with a lot of excellent pump organ information.

Robert Pettengill, USA, 16/11/2014: Thanks for your note. Your work is truly a tour de force, an amazing effort! I am honored (or should I write honoured?) to have contributed to it. I remember fondly my visit to Rushworth & Dreaper in Liverpool. The skill and craftsmanship on display was impressive. When I was there they were rolling out molten metal on a table to eventually make pipes, an art as much as a craft!

Adrian Clarkson, 20/10/2014: Many thanks indeed for publishing this wonderful site.

Ivan Furlanis, Italy, 4/6/2014: First I must congratulate for your incredible Web site, one of the best about reed organs and harmoniums. Second, I'd like to collaborate giving some more info about instruments built in your country... I keep you updated when I'll meet other English instruments.

Mike Walker, Norfolk, 11/2/2014; I've been reading and enjoying your ``Reed Organs in England'' and I'm hoping to pick your brains, if you don't mind.

Mike Hardisty, 7/2/2014: Hello Robert. I came a cross your site whilst I was looking for some information about an organ I photographed in Penmachno, N.Wales.

Richard Knight, Cockermouth, 23/1/2014: I've just taken over ownership of Richard Brice's University Organ ...

Mathieu Delmas, France, 15/10/2013: I discovered your page on this fine builder. So perhaps you would be interested to post pictures of another one on your (excellent) web site?

Dr_Oden585, e-Bay, 12/8/2013: It [your Web site] was very informative, the only source I could find on the Web, thanks for putting it up.

Adrian de Villiers, Heritage Advisory Services, Pretoria, South Africa, 9/8/2013: I hope you are well! I think your site is a most incredible digital collection and I take my hat off to you.

Rodney Reynolds, Melbourne, Australia, 30/5/2013: I need to give you an update or two and send you some revised photos.

Steve Poulton, Stockport, 7/5/2013: I came across your splendid Free Reed Organ Web site while researching my family history. One of my ancestors is Samuel Clarke, harmonium and American organ builder.

Michael Bigelow, USA, 4/4/2013: I've looked briefly at the Cramer information on your Web site. Nice site!

Tom Lewis, 27/2/2013: Thanks to your help in finding an Apollo with reeds and my restoration work so far I now have a functioning Apollo. Many thanks for that!

James Westbrook, Cambridge, 13/2/2013: I came across your wonderful Web site... Its a great service you are doing.

Tim Lloyd, Brighton, 25/1/2013: I came across your site when looking for info on a William Sames reed organ I have. The detail you have is commendable. I was quite surprised to find that you actually have ``my'' organ.

Simon Dennis, 21/1/2013: I hope this finds you well. Forgive the un-solicited e-mail but I tracked down your contact address via your excellent and informative ... on the Web. I was seeking some independent advice on my University Reed Organ and you seem to be an authority on the subject.

Andrew Bayfield, Adelaide, Australia, 11/1/2013: Thanks for a great resource.

Tom Randall, Radstock Museum, 31/10/2012: I found your Web site by searching for information on [our Hepworth] organ and noted your request for more information so thought I would share this with you.

Ed and Beryl Evans, 25/10/2012: This is just to say ``thank you'' for putting us onto Chris Hampson's Web site. The advert went on the site on October 4th, and both Esteys have now gone to good homes.

Marie Kent, London, 9/10/2012: Firstly, may I say how useful and enjoyable your Web site is to we academic researchers, so thank you very much for all the valuable information you provide!

Robert Pettengill, USA, 8/10/2012: I should have Googled you before I wrote the following note. I found your Web site with the results of your work. Very impressive! ... You were very kind to include my name in your acknowledgments.

David J. Butler, Co. Cork, 7/10/2012: Many thanks for your assistance - I was successful in obtaining this [2M Bell] organ for the Lodge Room in Youghal, Co. Cork. ... I've not forgotten about sending you the photos of the two Apollo 'twins' from Cork Masonic Hall.

Don Swett, ROS, 16/9/2012: I've been on your site before and used information I've found there. Thank you for maintaining a wonderful reed organ site.

Rodney Reynolds, Melbourne, Australia, 3/9/2012: Dear Sir, Your organ site –- what a resource! I have a couple of those instruments in my home, and have attached low resolution photos of them for your interest, and because you might like to add them.

Neil Johnson, 1/9/2012: I've up-loaded more pictures ... and I'm happy to report that the organ was in excellent working condition. All that remains now is to find a home for it. ... It really is a lovely thing. Many thanks for your help here, and please convey my thanks to Ian also.

Janette Hamilton, 1/9/2012: I am happy to help in any way I can, I have a much greater knowledge of J. Wood & Sons ... Joe Wood, founder of J. Wood... is my great great grandfather ... hence my interest and wanting things to be recorded correctly. I do not profess to know everything about Marshalls but I am in the process of trying to learn as much as I can.

Andrew McCallum, 20/8/2012: I've stumbled across your excellent Web site while having another go at researching the background on a Cramer harmonium I have.

David J. Butler, Co. Cork, 9/7/2012: ... glad you have this Web site up and running...

Stephen Parker, Dewsbury Minster, 28/5/2012: I have been looking at your Web site recently. I have just aquired a 2 manual with pedals Apollo model B organ... I can send pictures at a later date.

Susan Medcalf, W.Suffolk, 22/5/2012: Thank you for your help with describing this Harmonium. I will e-mail separately the photographs.

T, 7/5/2012: I found your reference to this organ [from Beaulieu] in your ``Reed Organs in England'', and thought I'd send you a quick note to tell you that it's still in excellent working order, and that I was playing it earlier today! ... If there's any information I can provide that you'd find helpful, please feel free to ask, I'll be glad to help.

Robin from Exeter, 10/3/2012: I have come across your Web site before (it's excellent by the way) but haven't been able to find anything which matches mine exactly.

Tony Bremner-Milne, Poulshot, 7/3/2012: I would like to thank you for everything you did in helping me sell the organ. ... I assume details of 1177 will now be registered on your site as now living in Cork. A journey from Sidmouth, Devon to Poulshot, Wiltshire in 1972, and in 2012 moving to Ireland. Long live the Apollo! Many thanks again and best wishes.

Tom Lewis, 17/2/2012: Apologies for the late reply, its very good of you to e-mail [about the Apollo]! I've a great many photos of its restoration... how someone could leave such a complex magnificent instrument out in the wet beggars belief.

Mark Jefford, Lincolnshire, 13/2/2012: I've been looking for further details about the Doherty Organ I have from Crane & Sons and thought you'd be interested in two sources that may add to what you have already accumulated.

David J. Butler, Co. Cork, 31/1/2012: I have been greatly enjoying your Web site on Reed Organs generally, and the Rushworth and Dreaper Apollo organ in particular, since I came across it on-line last autumn... Should you be interested in photographs of [our] organ, in its new environment, where it is free standing, facing up the lodge room, I would be happy to oblige.

Peter T. Jeffers, Co. Cork, 26/1/2012: I note with interest the list of Sawyer organs. With regard to the one in the Methodist Church in Skibbereen... An old Holt Apollo organ has just been bought by a friend of mine and is in Cork City. I sold one of these many years ago to a chap near Limerick. We are in the organ business for many years... Hope the Saywer organ information will be of interest.

Tony Bremner-Milne, Poulshot, 19/12/2011: I spoke earlier this evening with regards to a Apollo Organ. This organ came from Sidmouth in 1972 to our church St. Peter's Poulshot...

Andrew Hayden, 19/10/2011: I thought readers might be interested to know I have just acquired Apollo no.1332 ... I'll endeavour to send some photos in the next week or so and more info.

Domitila Ballesteros, Brazil, 25/8/2011: Hello, in Rio de Janeiro, where I live, there is an English (mechanical) organ, it has no identification ... This is a pipe organ and I contacted people who might be able to help with the enquiry.

Peter Chappell, Australia, 14/8/2011: I've been working away on it steadily and have restored it enough to have it [A.&E. Humphreys 1M] take up residence in my living room. Here are some photos if you're interested:

Dominik Gückel, Germany, 25/7/2011: It is me, who bought the Holt reed organ with the ``prepared Solo''. You will get any information for the Web site as soon as I dismantle the organ. He sent many good photos.

Ian Ball, 9/7/2011: Many thanks for adding me to your Web site as the owner of a R&D Apollo - I am indeed - number 1104 (which makes it c.1917?)... Happy to provide numerous photos if you'd like them for the Web site.

Ian Thompson, 10/6/2011: Re. photos: Please do put any [photos] that are of interest on your site. I've sent them all including [some] I'll re-take hoping for better luck... I'll also send details of the specifications.

Jonathan Bowden, 24/5/2011: I found this e-mail address at the very interesting and informative web site about reed organs in England. I hope you forgive me for writing with this request. I work for Henry Willis and Sons in Liverpool... I will have a good look through your web site which looks fascinating. As personal instruments I used to have a 2 manual Mustel and now have a 2 manual Schiedmayer harmonium.

Erik-Jan Eradus, Amsterdam, 9/3/2011: For a while I am collecting harmoniums... I have attached some pictures... I hope this information is useful for your collection.

Peter Chappell, Australia, 6/3/2011: I hope you don't mind me sending you an e-mail out of the blue like this... I live in Brisbane, Australia and found a Harmonium on the side of the road...

Niels Grundtvig Nielsen, Belgium, 1/3/2011: Thank you for a site that's going to keep me reading and exploring for quite some time.

Mark Carter, Dorset, 28/2/2011: I have been using your excellent reed organ site for general education on English reed organs... I have just been up to North Yorkshire to collect a 2MP Imperial from a small church near Whitby... The organ itself plays beautifully and we are delighted with it. If you are able to tell me anything more (its exact age, for example) I would be delighted to hear from you.

Rodney Jantzi, Canada, 25/1/2011: I would like to thank you for all the information you have shared on your fantastic reed organ web site. I have been familiarizing myself with the Vocalion and its history, and your web site has been extremely helpful.

Peter Nicholson, 4/1/2011: I'll start by congratulating you on your wonderful Web site regarding the British reed organ! I've now spent many hours reading the history of these companies, which has kept me wonderfully entertained.

John Vallings, New Zealand, 16/12/2010: Thanks for your update. I have restored a number of John Malcolm and Imperial organs both made in England.

Paul Carey, USA, 16/12/2010: Thanks so much for your updated Web site and inclusion of things from mine. I am, to say the least, impressed.

Edric Russell, Queenstown, SA, 10/10/2010: I have been reading your interesting article about the Apollo organs... Thank you for the interesting details about the Apollo organs that you have posted on your Web Site.

Len Harrison: I sent the information below... including an earlier e-mail to you - but from what is indicated on your Web site, it now appears to be an old e-mail address... Visiting the one in Cynwyd 1271 would not be a problem... I will try and find out more in the meantime.

Izak Lindhout, Netherlands 5/5/10: With this mail I will thank for the mail you send me in November for the Holt 3MP. I've mailed Patrick the same day and have buyed the Holt from him. The end of February I've dismantled it and transported them to Tholen, Zeeland the Netherlands.

Supremedrums on e-Bay, 23/1/10: Thanks for your help.

Philip Waddington, 12/1/10: Here are some updates for your Web site.

Patrick Cameron, 10/11/09: Hi Rob, here are some shots of the Organ [3MP Holt number 1554] you may like. All the best, Patrick

Paolo Viadana, Italy, 21/10/09: I'm trying to send you a few of photos of my Apollo: At the moment, it is the best I can do... the position is not good and the instrument is still detached for a first general cleaning and for maintenance.

Paolo Viadana, Italy, 14/9/09: I'm Paolo Viadana, Italian organist and Harmonium and Reed Organ scholar/ fan. Thanks for your excellent site! Here in Italy there isn't a great ``Harmonium education'' but, in these last years, something is moving... I sold my digital organ, purchased only 4 years ago, for the ``Apollo''; I think this is the best bargain in my life!!! Now, the instrument is still arriving in Italy: when it will be in my home, I will give you all informations may you need about it (and some photos...).

Jason Fisher, 27/8/09: How kind of you! I was working on updating [my Web site] and giving it a more professional look, but never finished it. If and when I get around to completing it, I'll send you a CD of it and you can see what you think - and if you are able/ willing to put it online, that would be great!

Gill Wedlake, 12/6/09: I am really impressed with your Web site, although my interest is in the Wedlakes rather than the harmoniums!

Colin Pykett, 6/4/09: We have corresponded occasionally before, and I keep dipping into your fascinating site from time to time.

Marcel Punt, Sweden, 13/11/08: I have just visited your great Web site, and found my own instrument there.

Gwyn Lishman, 23/10/08: Rob, I'm amazed at the amount of work that has gone into your Web site, have you ever considered putting it into print form? A well thumbed copy would be in my workshop that's for sure! If you're ever in the Lakes, drop me a line, I would show you what I've got here but you must visit the fell chapel, the 1M Estey (came from a chapel in Lancashire) is nothing special but it's setting is spectacular - very Victorian - the middle of nowhere, gas lamps, no path or road and no electricity.

Sally Course, 29/9/08: I have read with interest your Web pages on the English Harmonium. My partner and I are restoring our first harmonium...

Naomi Robinson, 23/9/08: What a wonderful site you have done - absolutely facinating! My grandmother was Margaret Crane (now deceased) and she mentioned that Cranes Pianos in Liverpool was her relations.

Paul, 28/8/08: I frequently dip into your excellent Web site. In the last decade I have bought five or six portable organs...

Peter Bailey, 18/8/08: I have just come across your excellent site and wonder if you can point me in the right direction by suggesting the names of some current organ manufacturers or archive ...

Terry Hill, 27/6/08: I have just roamed through your interesting and exciting site looking at the R & D reed organs and have to let you know that I have what appears to me, (from the photos and descriptions you have provided)... Thank you for your exciting Web site which I have enjoyed.

Phillippe, 19/5/08: Thanks for your encouragement (if that is the right English word?). I didn't know your site: it is really a huge work!

Adrian de Villiers, South Africa, 30/4/08: I must commend you on your site covering the free reed organ in England. It contains a wealth of information and I'll go back into it for a detail read.

Paul Carey, 25/2/08: I was reviewing Vocalion data this morning and came across additions to your site... I will keep you posted.

Frank Rooney, 13/2/08 I must congratulate you on your most interesting and informative site. I thought you might be interested ... I have recently sold an R.F. Stevens folding harmonium, that I have had in my loft for many years, to a folk singer in Finland.

Godfrey Williams, 8/2/08 Congratulations on an excellent Web site. You've done a great job and provided a great service. Well Done.

Mathieu Delmas, 10/1/08 All my best wishes for 2008! I have to tell you I gave the address of your Web site to lots of friends of mine here in France, and they all are astonished by such a work and the quality of the content.

Karl Goldbach, 2/1/08 I am a musicologist and at present finishing an article on Arthur von Oettingen's Orthotonophonium which is actually an enharmonic harmonium. This article will include a brief history of the enharmonic harmonium. On your site "Reed Organs in England" I found some information concerning my research... Thanks Karl for sending me your finished article which is very comprehensive.

Stephen Hogger, 20/12/07 Your excellent site lists the following organ ...

Thomas Becher, 4/12/07 First of all let me thank you very much for your fantastic and exceedingly informative Web site about English reed organs. Yours and the site of Jason Fisher, Stockton have been very helpful to me, for my decision in late summer 2007, to buy a 2MP Rushworth and Dreaper reed organ, which has been for sale by a concert organist in Norway... I attached a photo, if you are interested I can send more photos.

Rowland Lee, 27/11/07 I have just discovered your excellent Web site, "Reed Organs in England" and am sending you some pieces of information which may be of interest to you.

Frances Coombes, 26/10/07 I've been reading your organ Web pages. I love organ music, the bigger the better. I often wish I'd worked harder at the piano all those years ago - I'd have loved to have learned to play the organ... Your Web pages are extremely interesting though, so I've been reading them to the accompaniment of Carlo Curley.

Gwyn Lishman, 18/10/07 I wanted to thank you for a fantastic study of reed organs/ harmoniums. I have greatly enjoyed reading about the many organs of this design. I myself have 3 ... I'd like you to see the [University Organ] by way of photos sent by mail ... Anyway, thank you again

Julian Chilvers, 11/10/07 I was interested [in] entry W. & J. Chilvers on your Web site from a family history angle. Regards. Julian, thanks for the information and I hope we can continue to help one-another.

Louis Huivenaar, 17/9/07 Here is my CD with restorations of all kind of harmoniums, reed organs pipe organs, celestas etc. Thanks Louis for all your information and support and of course for so many perfect restorations.

Paul Spencer, 13/7/07 I have been reading your article on Reed Organs... I really enjoyed the article and I now have lots of lines of enquiry [for my family history]. Thanks Paul for much valuable information which pieces together this jigsaw.

Claus Seiler (Germany), 13/2/07 My name is Claus Seiler, I'm living in Wadgassen, which is a village near Saarbrücken in the south western part of Germany near the French border. I'm working with an insurance company in Luxemburg, so I'm clearly not a professional musician but a dilettante (in the good old sense).
I wouldn't like to miss this occasion to thank you for your immense work about the reed organ. I noticed it for the first time, when I was looking for informations about my [University Organ] before buying it. Unfortunately, I didn't know your site in 2003, when I saw a 2MP reed organ by Holt for sale at eBay in Germany (it's in the paragraph about Holt), but with the University I can say now "all's well that ends well".

Szilard Toth (Hungary), 7/5/07 Thanks for your message. I have to tell you, I was amazed by this instrument [Apollo 1235] I purchased. This is a masterpiece, I will do my best to get it in perfect shape and to take good care of it.
Regarding the Web sites: I think I have already visited the Reed Society Web site and tried some of the links, but I never tried these mailing lists. I will join them now, I am very interested about this issue. I think reed organ is a good and relatively cheap solution compared to a pipe organ. I am very sad to see that lots of Hungarian churches do not invest money in the restoration of the old pipe organ but buy an electronic one. I would be much happier to see them buy reed organs instead, these are easier to maintain and have a beautiful tone.
I would be happy to find and restore old 2MP reed organs and to find a new church for them. For years I am also thinking of attending an organ builders' school and, in a longer term, trying to establish a reed organ builder workshop. I know it is pretty difficult but I would be happy to see the revival of these organs, rather than seeing the flow of these digital organs.
Thanks for all the information - I will check these sources.

John Miller, 21/2/07 Great job updating your Web site.

Wannes Vanderhoeven (Netherlands), 6/2/07 In the attachment, two pictures of my Apollo, uncovered after a year of renovation activities in my music studio. Shortly the electric blower wil be reinstalled and some minor reparation work will be done. On that moment, I hope to be able to communicate the serial number to you.

Jason Fisher, 5/2/07 Just got round to scanning 2 adverts for Holt reed organs - I don't know if they are of any use to you, but please find them attached. The smaller one is from "The Music Teacher" magazine, September 1926, the second one is from the large book "The Complete Organ Recitalist" by Herbert Westerby, published 1927.

David Pye, 3/2/07 I hope you will be able to open the 6 jpegs now attached separately and find one or more of use. Please get back to me again if needed.

Claus Seiler (Germany), 2/2/07 PS: I wouldn't like to miss this occasion to thank you for your immense work about the reed organ.

Mathieu Delmas, 9/1/07 I'm a French organist amateur, living in Manchester since one year, and rather keen on harmoniums and reed organs. I wanted to thank you for your very interesting Web site! Harmonium is far more studied and organized in UK than in France !! Thanks Mathieu, for all the subsequent correspondence and information about harmonium activity in France. I lived in Bordeaux for a year, and still have fond memories.

C. Reading, 7/1/07 Rob, your Web site is a great source of information. I bought the organ 5 years ago at auction as a nice piece of furniture without knowing anything about its history. Will gladly send you some pictures. Any particular detail you are interested in?

David Pye, 29/11/06 I have just stumbled across your most interesting and helpful Web site whilst searching for some information on a Victorian English reed organ which I acquired at auction in Birmingham some 25 years ago... I applaud your extensive research as a most useful resource for both active enthusiasts and to inform younger enquiring minds, of an important but now rather obscure part of our music-making heritage. Thanks David!

Robert ``Fritz'' Gellerman, 1/11/06 I have only now come across your Web site again and am just beginning to go through it in detail. It's a welcome resource. I will add your site to my list of RO sites. Fritz and I have now been swapping information for some time.

David Kershaw, 19/10/06 Firstly, many thanks for providing (and recently updating!) this unique on-line resource.

Mark Jefford, Lincolnshire, 4/10/06 Your site has already been a help regarding the dates Stevens' used their various addresses ... Thanks again for taking the time to reply to my email and the details on your comprehensive Web site. Guess it must have taken many years to accumulate the information and then make it available through the Internet but it is much appreciated as it adds to what I can find in Gellerman's and Ord Hume's books.

Jason Fisher, 28/9/06 It continues to amaze me just how much information you have collected, and without doubt, you have provided the most comprehensive guide to English reed organs I know of. Everything is presented so well, and the lay-out is easy to navigate. Keep up the excellent work! Jason and I have swapped a lot of information.

Wannes Vanderhoeven, Belgium, 6/9/06 Browsing the Web, I discovered Jason Fisher's Web site providing a lot of interesting information about the Rushworth and Dreaper Apollo organ. Jason Fisher directed me to your Web site, which I found a very interesting resource of information about the harmonium and especially the reed organ.

Rev. Peter Godden, 4/9/06 I too have just stumbled across your excellent Web site.

Peter S. Wyant, 28/7/06 Hello Rob, just taken a look over your wonderful site!

Stefan Hammermayer, 28/6/06 I own a reed organ by John Holt, maybe interesting for you. Here are some pics! Stefan's organ is still for sale and its a very special one - sold lates in 2007 I believe.

John Miller, 11/5/06 Thanks for putting up your Reed Organ pages - it's got to be the best I've seen and a great research tool. John, I have yet to put aside time to visit.

Philip Waddington, 7/5/06 Hope you are well. I am writing a thesis for a diploma and am looking to write about the reed organ, in particular the large English reed organs built to RCO spec such as the Apollo, University Organ and so forth (having tinkered around with tuning and repairing my own it feels it is a subject I know reasonably well!). I wondered if you would give me permission to reproduce some of the diagrams and quotes off your Web site in this thesis as illustrations and original data. Obviously these will be properly attributed to you in the bibliography. The answer was of course, ``yes''. I visited Philip, a professional organist, together with Brian Styles in 2007 and we had a wonderful evening visiting several instrumnets!

Jean-Francois Guy, 30/4/06 Your study on the Web about reed organs is really fantastic!

Francis Dunstan, 26/4/06 I have just stumbled on your Web site (now entered as a Favorite) giving info on Reed Organs.

Andrew Cooper, 20/4/06 I have just come across your very interesting Web site. I own a John Holt reed organ ... If the details are of interest to you, please let me know and I'll tell you more! Thanks Andrew for the information.

Michael Jacot, 26/4/06 Many thanks, I am deeply impressed! You will soon have a fulltime job just looking after your Web site! I am still amazed at the amount of interest and info today on reed organs. I am sure that this would not have snowballed without the Internet. Michel, thanks for all your information and pictures which was gratefully received and fills in an important part of the history.

Colin Pykett, 22/1/06 I have found your excellent reed organ site absolutely fascinating. I cut my teeth on them as a youngster in the 1950's and 60's.

Brian Styles, 15/1/06 Hey, I've been having a trawl through your amazing Web site - excellent creation. Brian and I have since explored many different aspects of the history of RO building and the remaining instruments. We have even dismantled and moved a few. It is great fun working with him!

Frans van der Grijn, 9/1/06 This link mentioned by James is one that should be (imperative!) in all of your "favourites" list.... R.J. Allan informed me over a year ago about this magnum opus on English Reed Organ and its builders....... Some of you might have noticed in the past I am kind of 'nuts'. This does prove it ultimately: I am almost finished with printing the lot of this huge book... Frans, thanks for sending me so much information, I hope we will meet soon.

Ian Thompson, 9/1/06 Just this morning I discovered your very interesting UK RO Web site. The detail is wonderful, and it all prompts me to make the effort to photocopy and send you snippets of relevant material I gathered about 20 years ago, but which sit scattered in various files. Ian, I have come to know you on-line as an expert and never-ending source of detailed information. How do you remember or find it all?

James Battersby, 7/1/06 I remember now where I found the information, it was on the excellent site of R.J. Allan's. Hi Jim, its people like you that keep these instruments and their tradition alive. Your sincerity and hospitality and our ``grand day out'' was very enjoyable!

Philip Waddington, 23/11/05 I am writing to enquire whether you would like details of my Apollo organ for your excellent Web site. Yes Phil, I did, and still intending to visit...

Jason Fisher, 9/4/2004 Congratulations on the site, I have just followed the link from the RO mailing list and think you have done an excellent job... I would be happy to send photos and/ or any info you would like. We have now exchange4d information many times.


Some photographs in this site are original work by R.J. Allan using Leica 3F 35mm film, and Olympus D-380 and Canon G9 digital cameras. Particular thanks to Ian and Dolly Thompson, Brian Styles and others for allowing me to use their photographs. More are taken from Web sites and contributions of ROS members and other enthusiasts, to whom I also offer sincere thanks.


The Science and Technology Facilities Council (part of UKRI, my employer) for permitting me to host this site until 2021. It is now hosted by my friend John Ross in Stirling. I have other sites researching the history of technology including computer based data collection, analysis and modelling systems used at Daresbury Laboratory (the latter is my actual job), see The notes on the site you are reading reflect only the conclusions of my personal research into free reed instruments.

I acknowledge the following sources.

The Reed Organ Society

The British Institute of Organ Studies

The Musical Box Society of Great Britain

Ian Ball

James Battersby
Thornton Clevelys, Lancashire

Prof. Malcolm Bennett
formerly Zoonosis Centre, University of Liverpool

Charles Birkin
Ruthin, Wales

Keith Bishop

Dr. David J. Butler
Provincial Librarian and Archivist of the Munster Freemasons, Cork, Ireland

Paul Carey
Carey Organ Co. USA

Mark Carter

Julian Chilvers

Andrew Cooper

Judy Deane

Mathieu Delmas

Dr. Bruce Dracott
formerly Cambridge Reed Organs, Newmarket. Now retired.

Francis Dunstan
High Wycombe

Roger Firth

Jason Fisher
Stockton-on-Theme, Worcestershire

Phil and Pam Fluke formerly Reed Organ and Harmonium Museum, Saltaire, Yorkshire. Now retired.

Ivan Furlanis

Robert ``Fritz'' M. Gellerman (d.13/6/2011)
Work now incorporated in the Reed Organ Society database. Web site:

Karl Goldbach

Frans van der Grijn

Jean-Francois Guy
Gentilly, Paris

Dominik Gückel
Stuttgart, Germany

Stefan Hammermayer

Chris Hampson

Terry Hill

Louis Huivenaar
Postbus 103, Industrielaan 16a, 6951 KG Dieren, Netherlands
Tel-Fax: +31 (0) 313 412133; Mobile: +31 (0) 653 117697; Web:; e-Mail:

Michel Jacot
Neuffen, Germany

Rodney Jantzi
Baden, Ontario, Canada
Organ Database Coordinator, Reed Organ Society, USA

Mark Jefford
Lincolnshire. Mark was previously the ROS rep. for UK and has made numerous contributions to this work.

Wim Kamp

Martin Kasparek
France and Switzerland

Marie Kent
I trained as a piano technician at the old London College of Furniture 2004-07 (now part of the London Metropolitan Museum), then carried on to do my Masters, and am now at the end of my Ph.D. (hopefully!) studying ``The piano making workforce in London from the start of the industry (c.1766) to the end of the nineteenth century''. A lot has been written about the pianos themselves, but not much about the workforce.

David Kershaw
Stranraer, Scotland

Bill Kibby-Johnson
Piano History Centre, Norfolk
Web: The Story:

Stephen Kirkman

Martin Layton
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Thanks for lots of information about Theodore Charles Bates.

Prof. Derek Law
British Institute of Organ Studies

Rowland Leed

Gwyn Lishman

Pete Maskrey
I don't know where you are now, but we had a great time repairing and playing these instruments many years ago!

John Miller
Clinical Trial Service Unit, Oxford University.

John McCann

Geoffrey Morgan
Christchurch, Dorset

Rev. Tony Newnham
formerly Heaton Baptist Church, Bradford e-Mail:

Robert Pacey
Old Chapel Lane Books, Burgh le Marsh, Lincolnshire PE24 5LQ
e-Mail:; Tel: 01754 811034

Robert Patten,

Robert S. Pettengill

Steve Poulton

Colin Pykett

James Quasnock

Rodney Reynolds
Melbourne, Australia

Graham Rogers

Jonathan R. ``Bulldoggye'' Ross

Robin Slowe

Paul Spencer

Marcel Punt (formerly Henrico Stewen)

Brian Styles
Huntingdon, Cambridge

Don Swett
Reed Organ Society, USA

Graham Tall

Ian C.L. Thompson (thanks also to Dolly Thompson)

Jim Tyler

Graham Underwood,

John Vallings,
Auckland, NZ

Wannes Vanderhoeven

Paolo Viadana

Philip Waddington
Reddish, Stockport

Rosalie and Milton Wainwright
Woodville Organ Museum, Woodville, Wairarapa, New Zealand

James Westbrook
University of Cambridge

John Whitaker
Town Street, Beeston

John Sinclair Willis
We note that JSW retired and emigrated to India c.2006.

Peter S. Wyant
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

I also acknowledge the use of numerous Web sites and search engines such as ROS, RFG, NPOR, Google, Flickr, AbeBooks, e-Bay, etc. Other references are described in the Introduction 2 and in the References 32.32.

Michel Jacot

I would like to add this testimony from Michel Jacot who found my Web site in December 2005. He was initially curious to know why there is so much interest in reed organs compared to when he was in business in the 1970s. His e-mails and letters were a source of immense encouragement.

Hello, lets say at the start that I was born in 1943. When I was 12 my father bought me a 13 stop Dominion with 2 sets of reeds and I played it so much that I drove everybody mad. It must have been in my mid-twenties that I bought via R.F. Stevens a 3MP/14 Mason and Hamlin Liszt model from a Masonic Hall in Brighton. This organ needed renovation and I tried to find a firm to handle this, without success. So I did the job myself, it took quite a while and I made some mistakes, but at long last it was ready and made a jolly noise! Somehow I got wind of a 2MP University Organ going for a song at Price St. Mission in West Bromwich and I bought it and had a lot of fun renovating it. It too made a jolly sound, I advertised it in Musical Opinion and sold it to an organist for his home in Moseley, Birmingham. Slowly I got the idea that I might make a little paying sideline repairing reed organs and I took a regular advert in Musical Opinion. This brought me more business than I expected and it gave me a nice paying hobby/ sideline for quite a number of years. Around 1978/ 79 this dried up, there was just no reed organ business to be had (this affected my new organs too). My main light engineering business was also suffering from extreme lack of orders and so I decided to get out while still solvent. During my organ building time I got to know a two man organ building firm in Dudley - Longstaff and Jones. They helped me a lot, and later I helped them when they needed an extra man and they in return taught me a lot of tricks. They got most of my stuff when I gave up.

I greatly enjoyed this part of my life and I must have renovated many reed organs. Two in particular remain in my mind, a very large 3MP Holt at Chillington Hall, Wolverhampton which I installed in the residence of a retired bishop in Hereford (he was a great old boy!), and a 3M Mustel which went into the Lady Chapel of Worcester Cathedral. The prototype 2MP JRO also spent a time in the Lady Chapel after being shown at Pershore Organ Week in 1971.

After reading this through I see that I should have mentioned that I also got to know Charles Foster of R.F. Stevens and this developed into a friendship. He also taught me many tricks and pointed out pitfalls to be avoided.

Over the years I rebuilt my Mason and Hamlin. It had a fine tone, but lacked brightness. The Great was 16/8/8 and the Swell 8/4, the Solo was OK with 6 sets of reeds and I think that I added a proper valve tremulant. I made a unit organ division for the Great and Pedal with electric action. This gave me 4' and 2' on the Great and 4' on the Pedal which originally had 32/16/8. The Swell was also enlarged into 2', giving in total on the Swell 8/8/4/2' and 16' (treble). All this work resulted in a very jolly noise indeed! Many completely different tone colours and complete choruses in all departments. I really don't know today just how I managed all this, but I suppose that I was younger and full of energy! The organ went with us to Evesham, but was eventually sold to a prep. school near Guildford. I installed the organ for them and they were very pleased with it. I seem to recall that after the installation I heard no more from them. I suppose that somebody was found to look after it as it was large, complex and not easy to keep in trim, especially for somebody who had not built the thing.


During the time I was in business I had quite a lively trade in reed organ spares which went really worldwide. I had quite a large selection of spares on offer - many were new, i.e. I got parts made through my engineering contacts.

Sadly, as I have already mentioned, business just dried up for both of my businesses in 1978-79 and I made the painful decision to get out while the going was good, rather than to go down the drain. Sad, because the family firm of Louis Jacot and Son Ltd. was just short of 100 years. I suppose that's the way the cookie crumbles!

I hope all this ramble is of some interest, I cannot guarantee the dates 100% on all items, but I think the rest is pretty accurate. You are welcome to pass this stuff on should you wish whether by word of mouth, bush telephone, or Internet. In other words ITS ALL YOURS NOW. Of course I am happy to answer any questions. Mail me as we arranged.

Regards, Michel

Rob Allan