Subsections


SUPPLIERS OF MATERIALS AND COMPONENTS

As noted by Laurence Elvin [56], there were many craftsmen and tradesmen who supplied to English pipe organ builders, and this is equally true of reed organ builders, as noted by Fritz Gellerman [80]. Here we list some of the better known supply establishments producing such things as reeds, cases, sound boards and keyboards.

G.F. Adamson (c.1880-1915)

George Frederick Adamson made keyboards for harmoniums, pianos and organs with a steam works at 1 Nisbet Place, High Street, Homerton, London. Other addresses were 203 Lower Clapton Road, Clapton and 51 Andrew's Road, Hackney until c.1915. There are complete pianos bearing the Adamson name.

Thomas Batt (c.1882)

Listed in the 1882 London directory as being a harmonium bellows maker of 103 Comer Street, W.C.

B.P.A. Ltd. (-1970s)

British Piano Actions Ltd. was incorporated in 1931 in London under the direction of Alfred Knight, a well known piano maker. They were initially in Stoke Newington and employed 118 people in 1937 at the time of a strike over wages. They moved to new premises in Trostre Road, Llanelli, Wales, in 1948. In 1959 they passed under the control of a consortium of six companies and by 1977 were exporting 75% of their products. They were making keyboards and actions into the mid-1970s, e.g. as fitted in Knight and Welmar pianos. They had pioneered the use of plastics such as nylon in piano actions, as favoured by Knight for use in humid conditions. The company was dissolved in 1989, its last managing director was J. Hatchett, MBE.

They seem to have been keyboard makers and suppliers to Spencers and many others. An example is no.4032 which is the Great keyboard of Spencer number no.6528.

The company started again with new directors in 2015, see http://britishpianoactions.com. They have a strong connection with China.

B.O.B. - British Organ Blowing (1931-)

BOB of Coleman Street, Derby. Quite a few reed organs of the 1930s onwards were fitted with BOB blowers such as the small TOT1 model.

Now BOB-Stevenson, the company sill exists and makes a large variety of industrial fans in addition to organ blowers, see https://www.bobstevenson.com/organ-blowers.shtml.

British Reeds Ltd. (1947-50)

Reed maker of Perren Street, London listed in 1947-50. Director was H.R. Dawson and managing director was G.H. Best. This must have been near to the Imperial Piano and Organ factory, and interestingly F.J. Best was one of the directors there.


H. Brooks and Co. Ltd. (1847-1920)

Henry Brooks ``Manufacturer of Pianoforte Actions and Keys, Music Stools, Chairs, Desks, Canterburies, Whatnots, &c., Inkstands, Stationery Cabinets, & Misc. Goods, Collapsible Tubes, Portable Metal Sprinkler Stoppers & c.'' trading as Henry Brooks & Co.

Keyboard makers for pianos and organs, Henry Brooks and Company Ltd. and Herrburger merged around 1920 so earlier instruments would have the separate names. For instance H. Brooks & Co. is found in the Hillier instruments.

Henry Brooks was born in Marylebone, Middlesex on 20/3/1815 and was listed in the 1871 and 1881 census in St. Pancras. He was the 10th and last son of Cox Brooks, a piano maker who died in 1847 and his wife Susannah. There was also James Brooks (b.1811) and Thomas Brooks who married Susannah Griffin in 1837. There is a connection to John Ivory who was executor of the will of Cox Brooks.

The company of Henry Brooks was founded in London and had premises at 31 Lyme Street, Camden Town which was the centre of piano and harmonium building at the time. There are also premises listed at 57 Hampstead Hill Gardens, Hampstead (Henry Brooks & Co.), 31-35 Cumberland Market, Regent's Park, 138 Hampstead Road and 90 Barthmolemew Road, Kentish Town (c.1882).

Thomas and Henry Brooks worked together at 31-1/2 Cumberland Market and purchased piano keys from George Fraser of Campden Town c.1853. The partnership between the brothers was dissolved in June 1856 and continued by Henry alone after Thomas had been ill for some time.

In addition to a number of other goods, Brooks became very famous for their high quality piano actions, but also made a huge number of keyboards for many different instruments.

Despite by now having 100 employees in the business, Henry Brooks declared himself to be insolvent in Sep'1860 but did a deal with his creditors. There is no usual posting of bankruptcy in the London Gazette, but information is found elsewhere, e.g. his brother James' estate papers [121].

By 1871 Henry was married to James [sic] Isabella and had four daughters and two sons, the eldest, another Henry (b.1848) was apprenticed to his father.

Until 1877 Henry Brooks was working with Henry Brooks the younger, Arthur Brooks and Arthur Julian Burnett as H.Brooks & Co., Cumberland Market. This partnership was dissolved in April 1877 and it is suspected to be because Henry the younger had not contributed to the business as expected.

Life had been very hard for this Victorian family as detailed in a fascinating biography recorded by Marie Kent [121]. Despite this, Henry prospered until his death in 1886. His son Arthur and nephew James Edward Rose were appointed as executors and Arthur then became general manager and superintendent of the business.

Until 1998 Herrburger-Brooks was the world's oldest established maker of piano actions, hammer heads and keyboards. In 1844 in Paris, Jean Schwander had set up production of the famous Schwander action. This branch was later named after his son-in-law Josef Herrburger. He retired in 1882, but his name can still be found on many actions of fine pianos made today. His successor was his son-in-law Jean Joseph Herrburger, who formed a New York branch in 1900. Twenty years later Brooks of London and Herrburger amalgamated, so the firm of Herrburger-Brooks came into being. The Paris branch of Herrburger-Brooks closed in 1953 and moved to Long Eaton near Nottingham.

R.W. Clark, later Sebright and Clark (1877-c.1963)

Clark of Camden Town, London. In the 1930s advertised as the largest organ key maker.

[Could be Richard Clarke, College Place, Camden Town c.1851-8? Strange that nothing is recorded.]

A. Clayton (c.1898)

Arthur Clayton of Archway Tavern, London was a reed organ voicer who also advertised as enlarging and altering the pitch of the organs.

T. Croger (c.1859-62)

Thomas Croger of Hertford Road, Kingsland, London factored harmonium ``notes'' and keyboards.

W. Dewar (c.1883)

178 Drummond Street, London. Piano, organ and harmonium key maker. He worked alongside many other firms in Drummond and neighbouring streets on the outskirts of the district of Camden.

Jean Estève (1840-c.1875)

Jean Estève of Paris was an expert iron workr and became probably the best known brass reed maker for harmoniums used by many English as well as French manufacturers such as Mustel. He won several awards in international exhibitions, for instance a bronze medal in the 1878 Paris Exhibition for excellent precision work and a first prize in Sydney, Australia in 1880.

Estéve was born c.1807 and established his company in the Marais, Paris.

Estève amalgamated with Berthion-Hédou and was later succeeded by Léon Pinet in 1875. They introduced a new alloy for reed making in 1852. They had 44 workers in 1872. [need list of patents from Dieterlen]

Joop Rodenburg noted: I found that the reeds from Estève, meant for the UK market, were also different and indicated with A B C, and so on, instead of the Ut Re Mi Fa Sol.

Fletcher and Newman (-c.1976)

Of North London. Suppliers of keyboards and other materials including reeds.

[Could be Henry James Fletcher, b.1962 St. Lukes, Middx., Piano importer and fittings manufacturer trading as Fletcher & Co. 83 East Road, City Road. Married Florence Mary Gerrish on 20/5/1899. Still listed in 1901 and 1911 Census at 99 Murray Street, Shoreditch and 115 GHrosvenor Road, Islington.]

Hammond Organ Reed Co.(1856-1909)

Andrew H. Hammond was an iron worker who came to Worcester, Massachusetts, USA in 1851, where he worked at, and eventually in 1885 took over ownership of, the organ reed business of Edward Harrington and Augustus Rice (Rice and Robinson c.1854). It is thought that the reed making machinery had then been bought by Redding and Harrington [197] and the latter company was taken over by Hammond. A second similar set of machinery was taken over by the Estey Organ Co.

Hammond's trade parts were made to the highest specification and the company later became part of the Hinners Organ Co. in 1909. We note that there are letters from the Imperial Organ and Piano Co. and the Hammond Reed Co., see 12. This implies that Imperial were regularly purchasing parts and possibly reeds from Hammond. They also supplied to Doherty & Co. in Ontario.

The former Hammond Organ Reed Factory is located south west of downtown Worcester, Massachusetts, USA, at the south eastern corner of May and Silver Streets. It consists of a series of connected structures, some brick and some wood framed, extending on a roughly north-south axis. The original structure is at the northern end, facing May Street; it is a 2-1/2 story brick structure, with a high basement and a full third floor under its mansard roof. Its front facade is nine bays wide, asymmetrically arranged, with the original main entrance slightly off center in the middle bay, accessed by a high stoop.

Hammond built the oldest portion of this factory in 1868, and added to it several times over the next two decades, until the building reached its present configuration in 1886, at which time it employed an estimated 200 workers. Hammond is believed to be the largest manufacturer of organ reeds between 1890 and the advent of WWI. Munroe and Estey also produced them in large numbers.

After standing vacant and crime ridden for many years, the factory was converted into affordable housing in 2007–09. See https://www.carrlynchsandell.com/hammond-factory-housing.

We do not believe there is any connection with Laurens Hammond who later built an empire through his iconic electronic tone-wheel instruments and other inventions.

Herrburger-Brooks (1920-)

Of Long Eaton, Nottinghamshire. Keyboard and piano action makers. Henry Brooks and Company Ltd. and Herrburger merged around 1920 so earlier instruments would have the separate names. For instance H. Brooks and Co. is found in the Hillier instruments. See Chapter 32.6.

J.A. Jacobs (1873-c.90)

15 Seymour Street, London NW. Maker of movements and fittings for harmonium and organ makers.

JAS, London

See http://www.jas-musicals.com. A firm in London still makes their own reed frames with riveted steel reeds, for their own Indian style harmoniums. According to Louis Huivenaar, they sound perfect, but it took them seven years and a lot of machinery to do it.

J. & J. Goddard (1842-c.1924)

Were suppliers of harmonium and American organ reeds and cavity boards. They also supplied parts for pianos and pipe organs, and their full catalogue ran to 199 pages. Some advertisements are re-produced by Ord-Hume [140]. The remaining stock of reeds was bought by Michel Jacot in the 1960s. In 1920 you could buy a cavity board with 4 rows of un-tuned reeds for £120. The following is from the preface to the 1920 catalogue number 50.

goddards.jpg

 The firm of J. & J. Goddard has been established since 1842 and for
 76 years has had the same address, 68 Tottenham Court Road. The
 picture shown above is a view of the premises as existing in 1890,
 when the shop front was modernised, the entire premises being rebuilt
 in 1907.

 The founder of the business, Mr. Joseph Goddard, died in 1889, when
 the management passed into the hands of his sons, Charles and Frank
 Goddard, who were joined in partnership in 1903 by Herbert
 J. Brinsmead. Mr. Charles Goddard retired in 1919 and the remaining
 partners still carry on under the well known name.

 We venture to claim this Catalogue as the most complete List of
 Pianoforte Supplies, etc.

 We have revised the prices as far as possible, though we regret that
 the prevailing and uncertain heavy costs preclude a return to pre-war
 figures.

 It will be found that several new features are introduced.

 We thank our customers for their past favours and hope to merit a
 continuance of that same confidence which they have given to us for
 many years.

goddard_reeds.jpg

They were at 68 Tottenham Court Road until 1968 and 37 Union Street SE1 until 1970. Today, the Tottenham Court Road shop is occupied by the Dianetics and Scientology Life Improvement Centre, but the name ``J.&J. Goddard'' can still be seen tiled into the side brick work above when looking from Goodge Street station.

Mainguet (-1910)

Reed makers of Paris. Eugéne Mainguet was born in Fontenay sous Bois in 1838 and died in Paris in 1910. Mainguet reeds are found in later Hillier harmoniums (earlier ones have Estève reeds).

Morgan (c.1882)

Jas. Hy. Morgan of 82 Golborne Road, London W. was listed in 1882 directory as a sound board maker.

Munroe Organ Reed Co. (1879-99)

William Munroe was born c.1826 in Scotland, his parents were Hugh Munroe and Jane. He moved to USA and established a business and family, we do not have exact dates. A depot of the American company at Brooke Street, Holborn, London supplied reeds, cavity boards and sundries to UK firms.

The business, known as the Munroe Reed Organ Company, started in 1860 in Worcester, Massachusetts, incorporated 1/1/1869. A new factory was built by Stephen Salisbury III for the company in 1879 and located on Thomas Street, Belmont Hill. They made both reeds and components, as well as whole organettes for Mechanical Orguinette, McTammany, Gally and others. Their production reached 4 million reeds in 1881, equivalent to 32,000 organs or about one third of the total production in the USA. The business was purchased by AEolian in 1892, but continued to operate under the Munroe name until at least 1900.

William held a patent for an improved organ reed and for a reed organ board. He was recorded in the 1870 census for Worcester, Massachusetts as a 44 year old organ reed manufacturer, born in Scotland, and living with his 32 year old wife, Annie B. and 5 year old twin daughters Charlotte C. and Catherine C. Annie is recorded as having been born in New Hampshire and the girls in Massachusetts. He lived to be about 73 years old and died on 27/5/1899.

Joseph Marshall (1900-19)

Of Preston Park (1900), 12 Kensington Place (1911-15) and 17 Gordon Road Preston Park, Brighton (1919). He was recorded as a brass reed maker.

James Murgatroyd (1884-)

Of Belle Vue Organ Works, Manningham Lane, Bradford was noted [56] as a patentee and sole maker of hydraulic blowing apparatus for American organs.

J. Payne

Case and keyboards. Had the floor above R.F. Stevens' workshop.

Léon Pinet Co. (1875-)

Manufacturer of supplies for harmoniums and free reeds. Took over the reed making business from Estève c.1875. They were at: 14 rue Morand, Paris about 1875; factory and warehouse at 64-68 Cours de Vincennes 1913; showrooms at 52 rue de Bondy; and also had a branch in Belgium.

In 1850, Jean Estève was searching for an apprentice, and he hired Léon Pinet. By 1880, Pinet had married the grand daughter of Jean Estve, and also bought the business, which became Estève et Compagnie. Pinet then developed and expanded the business. By 1915, Léon Pinet's wife took over the business, which was continued un-changed. Georges Pinet took control of the company in 1926, divested from the piano and harmonium supply business, and then concentrated on making general hardware, such as hinges and locks. After several relocations in France, and an addition of a second factory in Tunisia, the Pinet Co. is still in business today, under the same family ownership.

E. Smith and Co. (1879-c.1909)

Organ builders who provided blowers.

Spencer and Hailes (c.1890)

Alfred Spencer and William Hailes, harmonium sound board makers of 104A Park Street, Camden, dissolved partnership in 1890.

Turban & Cie

Harmonium reed manufacturer of Paris exhibited at the Paris of 1878, see [41] p479.

turban_broad_reeds.jpg

R.E. Vestey and Son (1860-c.1945)

Robert Ebenezer Vestey is in 1879 listed as piano, organ and harmonium key manufacturer, 21 Rheidol Mews, St. Peter's Street, Islington residing at 245 Blackstock Road, Highbury. Some time at 2 Dartmouth Villas, Seven Sisters Road, Stamford Hill, London N16.

Supplied to Rushworth and Dreaper among others. In 1909 were advertising as manufacturers of pianoforte, organ and harmonium keys at 597-9 Seven Sisters Road, S. Tottenham, N. There are complete pianos bearing the Vestey name.

C. Virot (c.1878-83)

Of Euston Road, London made reeds.

C.A. Wallgate & Co. Ltd. c.1933

C.A. Wallgate & Co. Ltd. were suppliers to the reed organ, harmonium and piano trade. Thanks to Louis Huivenaar for supplying information about this company which was previously unknown to me.

They had a shop at 36 Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1. and published a catalogue c.1933 (we do not know of any others).

It is known that they supplied to a large number of manufacturers both in the UK and overseas, including Lindholm in 1933.

The catalogue provides a lot of interesting information about the parts available and their price. Items included the following large range:

cavity boards
reeds
octave couplers
organ keys
vox humanas
stop knobs, faces, rods etc.
springs
valve pins
wire
hinges
pedal [treadle] frames and heel plates
pedal carpet and matting
rubber cloth
bellows webbing
skins
felts, cloths and baizes
pallets
organ and piano locks etc.
pitman rod etc.
bellows rollers
action levers
castors
washers
knee lever brackets
clips
brass stockings
reed hooks
leather buttons
rubber pads etc.
wood buttons
tapped eyed wires
tuning tools
dust bellows
american organ bellows
sconces
glass paper
hinges
screws
book holders
backing
glue etc.
polish etc.
damp preventer
pedal gut
nails etc.
tuning forks
name plates, labels etc.
covers etc.
corrugated fasteners

36 Southwark Bridge Road is now known as Notcutt House and has been renovated to provide a suite of high class office spaces. Wallgate & Co. are listed at this address in 1921 simply as merchants and there were several other occupants of the building.

notcutt_house_small.jpg

Watkins and Watson Ltd.

Blower manufacturers supplying the Discus brand available from c.1900. Earlier examples carry the Watkins and Watson name. They started at the White Lion Street Works, Islington c.1900.

Watkins and Watson still exist, see https://watkinsandwatson.co.uk, now based in Poole.

Other Names - Harmoniums

Other names are mentioned in various directories and in the London Gazette. We do not know if they were makers or retailers - can you help?

John Bridges, pianoforte and harmonium makers, 240 Pentonville Road, London N. (Kelly's 1891)

Richard Archibald Brookman of London on behalf of Joseph Poole Pirsson patent application no.2066 of 27/8/1860.

John Edmond Castex, of 1 College Place, Camden Town applied for a patent in 1867.

Philip Augustus Claude, of Ossulston Street, Euston Road granted a provisional patent in 1875 noted as a harmonium manufacturer

Peter James Colson, 239 Euston Road, 16/5/1868

Peter Fraye, 6 Walbrook, London, patent application 26/6/1868

George A. Gray, London (noted by Ian Thompson).

Jules Guesne, of 13, Charlotte Street, Portland Road, London patent 11/11/1869.

George Jeffreys Listed at 32 Penton Street, Pentonville N. in the 1882 London directory.

Edmund Lea, Tipton, patent 1864 (mill and forge manager)

Binckes Lichfield of 13 Walworth Road, London SE listed under harmonium in the 1882 London directory.

Mason Johnson Matthews, Pembroke Place, Liverpool, 5/5/1864

Joseph Walker Maudson, Bow Street and Rockingham Street, Sheffield 9/4/1883

C. Minasi, 3 St. James' Terrace, Kentish Town Road, exhibited a music stool and a harmonium on stand 3426 t the 1862 Exhibition.

Joseph Nelson, hamonium manufacturer, Jeune Street off Cowley Road, Oxford (Kelly's 1915)

Henry Pickett, 52 High Street, Cliffe and Old Market Lane, Lewes 9/5/1884

Fras. Powell listed in the London directory of 1882 under harmonium and being at 47-8 George Street, Euston Road.

Alfred G. Roberts listed in the London directory 1882 under harmonium and being at Laxton Street, Long Lane, London SE.

Joseph Robinson, 28 Oxford Street, Swansea, patent application in 1876

William Walton Rodell, St. Helen's Square and 34 Stonegate, York, 3/5/1880 (dealer)

William Scantlebury, Holloway, patent in 1871

Alfred Spencer, harmonium fittings maker, 104 Park Street, Damden Road (Kelly's 1891)

James Thorneloe, of Birmingham (joiner) patent application 1873

George Joseph Wainwright, 122 Jamaica Road, Bermondsey, 15/5/1883.

William Walker, harmonium and reed organ manufacturer, certified tuner and music seller, Ripley, Derbys. (Kelly's directory of Derby, Notts and Leicester, 1891)

London and Paris Pianoforte and Harmonium Company Limited was wound up in Jan'1974 for debt.

London and Provincial Pianoforte and Harmonium Association Limited Oct'1900

Other Names - Reed Organs

Other names are mentioned in various directories and in the London Gazette.

Maria Procopé of Sweden but living at 33 Chancery Lane, Middx. applied for patent in 1876.

John James Rosamond, 16 Mare Street, Hackney, piano and American organ maker, died 26/2/1895.

Rob Allan
2022-12-22