The New English Harmonium

This chapter documents the development and rise of The New English Harmonium. I have also included some other makers who were active at the same time. The whole thing seems to have started with patents by Wardle Eastland Evans, but a number of makers took up his ideas. The dates and rivalry between the various firms, both English and French, show that there was strong competition to produce the finest instruments of the era.

Boosey and Sons, and Boosey and Ching (c.1859-90)

evans_boosey_name.jpg boosey_name.jpg

Boosey and Ching were harmonium manufacturers of 24 and 28 Holles Street, Tottenham Court Road, London founded around 1859. The factory moved to Wells Street in October 1859. English harmoniums were exhibited at the 1862 London International Exhibition where they were awarded a medal for excellence of harmoniums on the Evans principle.

They had exhibited six instruments, two with pedals and one with a ``self blowing machine''. These were based on the design of W.E. Evans (see below) who also exhibited independently. Some also had ``double touch'', see under Wedlake below. Known as the Organ Harmonium they had two rows of keys, Great and Swell, and 2-1/2 octaves of pedals offering 32' and 16' pitches. There were 11 sets of reeds and couplers including Great to Pedal, Swell to Pedal etc. The instruments exhibited had cases by Hugh Stanus of the Sheffield School of Art. There was a lot of competition, see also Kelly below.


No.1: The above is a drawing of the Organ Harmonium in a carved oak
case, with two rows of keys, and two and a third octaves of pedals,
with independent reeds, 32 and 16 feet scales. The upper row of keys
represents the Swell, and the lower row the Great organ. Couplers from
Pedal to Great, and from Swell to Great. This instrument has eleven
rows of vibrators, and all the attributes of a fine organ.

No.2: This harmonium is in a very elaborate and handsome walnut case,
richly carved, with two rows of keys and eight rows of
vibrators. Attention is directed to the great resources of this
instrument, although it is of such moderate dimensions.

No.3: This harmonium has a single row of keys and the percussion
action. The design and execution of the case of this instrument are
worthy of particular attention.

No.4: Harmonium in an American walnut case, with one row of keys and
two and a fourth octaves of pedals. Attached to the seat of this
instrument is the new patent self-acting blowing machine. Although
many attempts have been made to manufacture a self-acting blowing
machine, Boosey and Ching believe that this is the only one of the
kind that has ever proved successful.

no.5: A specimen of the School or ten-guinea Harmonium.

no.6: A specimen of the cottage or six-guinea harmonium in a polished
pine case. Double pedals and full compass of five octaves.

The exhibition catalogue noted: These instruments, first introduced by Mr. Evans in 1843, were prominent before the public in 1859, when Messrs. Boosey undertook the full development of the plans Mr. Evans had so successfully designed. Since that period they have rapidly increased in popularity and have been the means of dissipating the prejudice which formerly existed against the harmonium. Quickness of speach, flute like quality of tone, and a great combination of delicacy and power of expression are some of the characteristics of the English Harmonium. Very beautiful effects may be produced by the combination of the harmonium with the pianoforte and chamber stringed instruments, so as to form a miniature orchestra capable of rendering the highest class of chamber music.


In 1859 they advertised Evans's Improved Patent English Harmoniums manufactured exclusively by Boosey and Sons, Holles Street, London, under the personal superintendance of Mr. W.E. Evans.


There were single manual instruments from 10 to 40 guineas and 2 manual instruments from 45 to 100 guineas.

It seems however that some in the profession were less than convinced of the provenance of these fine instruments.

In 1860 a full page announcement by Boosey and Sons was published in their own magazine The Musical World [240] as follows.

Evans's English Harmoniums manufactured by Boosey and Sons, Holles Street, London.

In giving a final answer to the calamnious statements of Messrs. Chappell and Co., Boosey and Sons would like to know what right these gentlemen have to constitute themselves their critics, and to subject them to the expense and trouble of answering a series of malicious libels, which, were it not for the delay, Messrs. Boosey would respond to only in a Court of Justice.

Although confident that the animus of Messrs. Chappell's attack, and the absurdity of their statements, will be thoroughly appreciated - still, to avoid all possible misunderstanding, Messrs. Boosey beg again most distinctly to deny having ever published a testimonial obtained from the exibition of an Alexandre Harmonium. Every testimonial which they have published (with two exceptions) has been given since the establishment of their own manufactury, and after the examination of a large stock of instruments. The two exceptional testimonials were given to Mr. Evans, when he introducted for the first time his improvements and which as already stated, were added to the skeleton of an Alexandre Harmonium which he had entirely re-constructed. If these alterations consisted in filing the reeds, it is quite obvious that M. Alexandre, or any other maker, could produce equally good instruments as those of Mr. Evans, which, hitherto, they have not been able to approach.

The public may not care to know anything about Messrs. Boosey's manufactury, but as Messrs. Chappell have alluded to it, it is necessary to state that it was opened in January last [1859], when Messrs. Boosey's connection with Mr. Evans began. Owing to the very great demand for his Harmoniums, it had to be removed to more extensive premises in October - a fact which will account for Messrs. Chappell describing it as a few weeks old, and for their animosity in attacking Evans's Harmoniums.

As to Herr Engel, Messrs. Boosey and Sons repeat, what they are prepared to prove, that he offered them his exclusive services to perform on Evans's Harmonium at the termination of his engagement with his present employer, M. Alexandre, in February next; a fact which they alluded to, not as a compliment to their Harmoniums, but as a proof of the worth of any opinion of Herr Engel; whose impudent assertions, that Messrs. Boosey applied to him for a testimonial, and admitted to him that Mr. Evans exhibited an Alexandre Harmonium as his own, are totally without foundation.

In order to understand the value of the authorities quoted by Messrs. Chappell in support of their calumnies, it should be known, that not only is Herr Engel the salaried agent of M. Alexandre but Dr. Rimbault (whose name is so much paraded) is regularly in the employ of Messrs. Chappell, while the English Professors, who, so anxious for the truth, are said to have to inspect the instruments of their countryman, and have therefore formed their opinion upon any specimen of Evans's Harmoniums which Messrs. Chappell have thought proper to submit to them.

In Conclusion, Messrs. Boosey and Sons beg to state, that feeling perfectly satisfied with the opionion which the public has already pronounced on Evans's Harmoniums (and which is shared by every independent member of the Musical Profession) it is their intention to avoid further discussion, treating with silent contempt these attacks, the object of which is so transparent. Boosey and Sons, 24-28 Holles-street (Manufactury, Wells Street).

This was again followed up in the next issue...

[more text to follow]

Messrs. Boosey and Sons are prepared to give a flat contradition to the whole of the statements of these gentlemen, and beg to quote a letter just reveiced from Mr. Cipriani Potter, who (according to Dr. Rimbault) gave Mr. Evans a testimonial two years ago on his exhibiting an Alexandre Harmonium as his own in Dr. Rimbault's presents:

``39 Inverness Terrace, Bayswater, W., 29/12/1859. Dear Sirs, As there appears to exist some mis-understanding relative to my testimonial of your Harmoniums I beg to state in explanation that, having received an invitation from you to inspect them, I called in your shop in Holles-street last April, and examined them in the presence of yourself and Mr. Evans. Mr. Evans tried them, and explained to me their peculiatrities and improvements, with which I was very much pleased, and, in consequence, sent you a testimonial to that effect.''


Evans's Harmoniums are used at the Royal Italian Opera, Covent Garden, by direction of Mr. Costa, who has paid frequent visits to Boosey and Sons' establishment, to examine the various instruments, and the many novel features they present. Mr. Costa's high opinion of these Harmoniums is shared by every independent member of the Musical Profession the Clergy, and the Press.


The advertisement of 14/1/1860 [240] lists options as follows and shows the prices in guineas.

no. Description Oak Mahogany Rosewood
1 one row of vibrators and the newly-invented wind indicator 10g 12 15
2 13 additional Bourdon notes to CCC and the wind indicator 14 16 ?
3 3 stops plus above, and unison trebles, very powerful; especially adapted for leading public workshp 19 20 22
4 5 stops: Diapason Treble, Diapason Bass, Bourdon, Principal and Expression plus wind indicator etc. 22 23 24
5 8 stops: Diapason Treble, Diapason Bass, Double Diapason, Bourdon, Expression, Sordine and two Fortes, wind indicator etc. 25 26 28
6 10 stops: Diapason Treble, Diapason Bass, Double Diapason, Bourdon, Voix Celeste, Sordine, Expression, Full Organ, two Fortes, etc. 30 31 32
7 14 stops: Diapason Treble, Double Diapason, Principal, Oboe, Diapason Bass, Bourdon, Clarion, Bassoon, Voix Celeste, Sordine, Expression, two Fortes, Full Organ, etc. 40 42 44
The new patent English model Harmoniums with two rows of Keys
8 9 stops: Diapason Treble, Diapason Bass, Double Diapason, Bourdon, Dulciana Treble, Dulciana Bass, Sordine, Expressions. Knee pedal and wind indicator 45 46 47
9 14 stops: Diapason Treble, Double Diapason, Principal, Oboe, Diapason Bass, Bourdon, Clarion, Bassoon, Voix Celeste, Sordine, Dulciana Treble, Dulciana Bass, Expression, knee pedal and wind indicator 60 62 65
  This instrument is also made with a complete set of German pedals of two octaves and a fourth with independent pedal reeds 85 90 100

On 3/3/1860 it was announced that new manufacturing premises had been acquired to satisfy the still growing demand. These were in Davies Street off Oxford Street and complimented the factories at Wells Street and Red Lion Yard. They were also advertising Case's patent concertinas.

Boosey and Ching later manufactured Case's Patent Concertinas and, as Boosey and Sons, became well known in producing all kinds of military band instruments.

A piano factory of Boosey & Co. at 229 Camberwell Road burned down completely on 20/4/1868 the fire brigade having run out of water.

1M/3:4 Harmonium RFG-5253

This small harmonium by Boosey and Sons measuring 46'' x23'' x37'' appeared on e-Bay in May 2006. It was located in Market Rasen.


The case is of light oak, and the instrument has the following stops: Forte, Sordine, Clarion, Bourdon, Diapason Bass, Expression, Diapason Treble, Double Diapason, Principal, Voix Celeste, Forte.

Note the use of English stop names.

This is almost certainly the same instrument as in Fritz Gellerman's database entry 2523.

1M Harmonium on e-Bay

This very sad looking instrument was advertised for sale 29/10/06. The seller, Rose, was at least honest about the condition and said any proceeds of the sale would go to the church fund near Chelmsford. The church was built in 1870 and it is possible that the Harmonium was an original feature. It measures 38'' wide x 31'' high x 12-1/2'' deep.


Notice the shape of the opening above the treadles which is the same as on RFG-5253. We have seen other photographs of an identical instrument e-Bay *2720.

Rodney Reynolds' 2M/4:5+1:1

This 2 manual 13 stop Boosey spent most of its life in Tasmania - originally in use at St. Georges Church, Battery Point until a Bishop & Starr pipe organ was installed about 1865. It came into the possession of Rodney's family in 1955 and he brought it to Melbourne in 1973. It is a standard 4 rank harmonium with ranks split front-rear across the 2 manuals.

Rod suggests from the documents that it cannot be earlier than 1859, but local opinion in Australia suggests that it was earlier. The ``Evans Improved Patent'' is however pretty hard evidence. It is nevertheless clearly very early as suggested by the widely set apart manuals with ivory keys. This rare instrument is essentially in original condition and is still in good working order and does get played.


Some time later Rodney sent new information: the Boosey-Evans is in fact catalogue No.9 in the 1860 list [above]. Count the stops listed and it comes to 13 and not 14 as printed. The full organ control is a knee lever. The organ has 6-1/2 ranks of reeds with one rank (Dulciana Treble and Bass) dedicated to the upper manual. There are no couplers. I think that is should be classified 2M/4:5+1:1. An interesting curiosity is that the Expression Stop applies to the lower manual only, so that the upper manual only sees wind from the main reservoir - allowing some interesting effects when played by someone who can really use the Expression Stop. The stops all have the names as printed in the 1860 Catalogue. The case is the Rosewood one.

Does anyone have any idea what the ``Evans Improved Patent'' was as implemented in the Boosey models? (I would try to get a photo of such a feature.) As far as I can see it is essentially identical with Alexandre mechanisms from around 1860 - at least in the wind chest etc, although it does not have any ``Forte'' controls or Stops. The Boosey does not have a Tremulant either. I even wonder if Alexandre used the Evans Patent in their later instruments?

W.E. Evans (c.1839-84)


Wardle Eastland Evans (b.1810-d.1884) worked at Norfolk Street, Sheffield c.1858 and also in Cheltenham (music shop) and London. He was actually born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and was a skilled craftsman and inventor who did much to advance the business of harmonium building in England. He was an organ builder and made Seraphines around 1841, see Chapter 3. Later, around 1865 he was in Holles Street, Cavendish Square and was there associated with Thomas Boosey. Some labels also carry the address 2B Market Place, Gt. Portland Street, London around 1865.

Henry Willis (b.1820-d.1901), later to become one of the greatest English pipe organ builders of the 19th-20th centuries and known as ``Father Willis'', worked with Evans in Cheltenham for three years from 1842-45 after he had finished his 7 year apprenticeship with John Gray (later Gray and Davidson) from 1835-42, see also Chapter 30. This was an innovative time, and together they built a free reed instrument with two manuals and 2-1/2 octaves of pedals; it was exhibited at Novello's shop in London. W.L. Sumner notes [187] that Evans was a genuis with reeds and it is suggested that Willis' skill at voicing reed stops may have been due to this experience. Around this time (1844) Evans restored the pipe organ in St. Peter's Winchcombe, Gloucestershire. Note that the harmonium itself was only patented by Debain in France in 1843. Willis applied for a patent no.2,634 in 1852 for improvements in the construction of organs and free reed instruments. Willis later visited Cavaillé-Coll in Paris in 1868-9, the latter had also practiced his art on free reed instruments, see Chapter 7.

Evans held a number of patents for his innovative improvements to his instruments. One of 1858, patent number 1,872, was for a reed starter (percussion?). Another, joint with R. Smythe, was for a ``genouillerie'' or knee lever to control a pedal bass. Another of 1881 was for an expression stop for suction reed organs.

Evans invented the New English Harmonium, some say c.1859 but according to Ord-Hume it was 1843 as we now know was suggested from the 1859 Exhibition notice of Boosey and Ching (see above). The larger examples were a 2MP harmonium with treadles and knee swells. It is therefore likely that this was developed from the prototype upon which Willis worked. It had 6 stops above the top manual and 10 stops situated between the manuals. Several of these were demonstrated at the 1859 and 1862 Exhibitions, and were sold via Alfred Novello's music shop in London. Messrs. Boosey undertook the full developmemt of the plans Evans and Willis had so successfully designed and marketed them from 1859 onwards.

I do not have a full specification of this instrument, but Ian Thompson notes that it had both 8' and 16' Sourdine stops in the treble. The following engraving is originally from the London Illustrated News, 3/12/1859. This is very similar to the Evans No.1 instrument exhibited in 1862.


The article reads as follows: The harmonium, an instrument now rising into the highest importance, is of comparatively recent invention. It is founded on the ``orgue expressif'', an instrument known for many years in France, where it was much used by persons who desired to obtain in their own chambers those effects of melody and harmony which are derived from the sustained tones of the organ. By a series of improvements for which we are indebted to M. Alexandre of Paris, and latterly to our contryman, Mr. Evans of Sheffield, the harmonium has become a noble and beautiful instrument, combining the powers of the organ and the pianoforte. We have examined several of the most recent constructed of these instruments, and have been greatly struck with the improvements which, during the course of nearly twenty years, Mr. Evans's perservering efforts have succeeded in making. The great difficulties with which he has had to contend were the harsh metallic tone caused by the peculiar mode of generating sound; the inequality in the scale arising from the preponderance of the bass over the treble; and the slowness of the sounds in answering the touch of the keys, whereby an effect of heaviness was produced, and light, rapid passages were almost impracticable. These defects have been got rid of in a surprising manner. The tone, throughout the entire compass of the scale, is pure, sweet, mellow, and free from that nasal sounds which has hitherto clung so obstinately to the instrument, while the mechanical action has become so prompt that the most brilliant pianoforte music can be executed with clearness and precision. The impressions which we derived from our own observations are entirely consonant with those of some of our greatest musical authorities who have borne testimony to the qualities of the instrument. (Re-produced in the ROS Bulletin, Winter 1998.)

Evans also made a small instrument called an Orchestrina-di-camera which had similar tonal capablities to the later American organ with stops such as flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and french horn. During this time he had business premises in Cheltenham and Sheffield.

In 1864 he was advertising: EVANS' PEDAL ATTACHMENT. The Pedal Attachment just invented by Mr. Evans is pronounced by all who have seen it to be eminently calculated to supply a want long felt by organists and others who desire pedal practice in their own drawing-rooms. It is portable, and can be applied to, or detached from, any Harmonium or Organ in a few seconds, forming, when not in use, an ornamental piece of furniture. Particulars may be had on application to 2B, Market-row, Great Portland-street, London, W.

In 1864 he also published a note to the effect that: EVANS' ENGLISH HARMONIUMS. These Instruments are now manufactured solely by the Inventor, at 2B, Market-row, Great Portland-street, London, W.

Evans exhibited harmoniums at the Paris 1867 exhibition (London Gazette).

There was a great deal of controversy at the time about the provenance of the Evans New English Harmonium with threat of litigation from Chappell and Co. who represented Alexandre in the UK, see above.

In the 1850s W.E. Evans appears to have been living in Sheffield.

London Gazette 2/9/1856: Notice is hereby given, that the partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned, as music sellers, at Sheffield, in the county of York, under the firm of W.E. Evans and Co. was this day dissolved by mutual consent. All debts will be received and paid by the undesigned, W.E. Evans - dated this 28th day of August 1856. Wardle Eastland Evans. Thomas Estridge Saunders.

London Gazette 3/9/1858: Patent no.1,872 to Wardle Eastland Evans, musical instrument maker, of Norfolk Street, Sheffield, in the county of York, for invention of ``improvements in harmoniums, concertinas, organs and other similar keyed instruments''. Believed to be granted 5/10/1858.

The advertisement in The Musical World of 14/1/1860 [240] noted the following.

 Without increasing the size of the Instrument, he has extended its
 compass by an additional octave (to CCC in the bass, and at the same
 time has so improved the treble, that even with the bass thus
 deepended, every note in the air is heard with perfect distinctness
 even when played pianissimo. By careful improvements in the
 management of the wind, he has given the power of modulating the tone
 from the strongest to the tenderest expression, these changes being
 guided and facilitated by his newly-invented ``Wind Indicator''; and
 with these improvements he has combined an elasticity of action
 suitable for the lightest and most rapid touch, quite superior to any
 mechanical percussion action.

In 1862 WEE is in Middlesex, at no.8 Newton Terrace, Bayswater. There is an announcement for patent application 2,916 for an invention of ``improvements in apparatus for playing organs, harmoniums, pianos, and other similar keyed instruments and also improvements in reed musical instruments''.

In 1865 at Great Portland Street, Middlesex, there is an announcement for patent 1,895 application joint with Ralph Smyth of Hastings, a retired Lieutenant Colonel of Her Majestey's Indian Army, for ``improvements in harmoniums, concertinas, organs and other similar keyed instruments''. There is a announcement in 1866 for patent 3,149 for the same but with WEE as sole patentee.

In Musical Times no.285 vol.12, 1/11/1866, embroiled on controvesy, we find:

              HARMONIUMS. - W. E. EVANS, the Original 
         Inventor and Manufacturer of Harmoniums in England, 
respectfully draws the attention of intending purchasers to his 
Unrivalled Instruments, in which he has recently introduced 
several important patented improvements. Amongst which may 
be specially mentioned the ``double-action expression wind move- 
ment,'' by means of which the wind is supplied with half the usual 
exertion, and the most perfect expression realised ; thus super- 
seding the use of the ``Expression Stop,'' so difficult of management 
in all Harmoniums. The advantage to purchasers is obvious, in 
selecting an instrument of a manufacturer whose whole life has 
been devoted to perfecting the Harmonium, and who finishes with 
his own hand every Instrument that leaves his Manufactory ; whilst 
the prices charged are no higher than those of other makers. Every 
Instrument is Warranted. The undermentioned 

The Cottage Harmonium, in Ash ... £8-8s 

no.1. - With One Stop, in Oak or Mahogany ... 10 Guineas. 

no.3. - With Four Stops, in Oak or Mahogany ... 20 Guineas. 
no.5a. - With Twelve Stops, in Oak or Mahogany ... 28 Guineas. 
no.6a. - With Fifteen Stops, in Oak or Mahogany ... 42 Guineas. 
no.9. - With Nineteen Stops, and Two Rows of Keys, 

in Oak or Mahogany ... ... 85 Guineas. 

for the entire absence of the nasal and reedy tone which has 
hitherto been the great impediment to the general adoption of the 
Harmonium in private houses; whilst the sluggishness of speech, 
another great defect in most Harmoniums, has been entirely over- 
come by W. E. Evans' improvements. 

Fully detailed Price List, with testimonials from the most 
eminent musicians, etc, may be obtained of the Sole Manufacturer 
and Patentee, W. E. Evans, 2b, Market-place, Great Portland- 
street, London, W. 

Mr. Evans is in no way connected with any other House in London

There followed a series of bankruptcy notices.

The London Gazette 3/12/1867 notes: Wardle Eastland Evans, of no.2B Market Place, Great Portland Street, Marylebone, in the county of Middlesex, and of no.14 Carlton Terrace, Harrow Road, musical instrument maker adjudicated bankrupt on the 13th day of August, 1867. An order of discharge was granted by the court of bankruptcy, London, on the 22nd day of November 1867.

Evans was declared bankrupt on 30/4/1870. The London Gazette of 24/6/1870 notes: In the Matter of Wardle Eastland Evans, of no.40 Welbeck Street, Marylebone, in the county of Middlesex, Harmonium Manufacturer, a Bankrupt. Eustrarius Constantine Ionides, of no.29, Threadneedle Street, in the city of London, Insurance Broker, has been appointed Trustee of the property of the bankrupt. The Court has appointed the Public Examination of the bankrupt to take place at the London Bankruptcy Court, in Lincoln's Inn Fields, on the 14th day of July 1870, at eleven o'clock in the forenoon. All persons having in their possession any of the effects of tbe bankrupt must deliver them to the trustee, and all debts due to tbe bankrupt must be paid to the trustee. Creditors who have not yet proved their debts must forward their proofs of debts to the trustee. Dated this 16th day of June, 1870.

The London Gazette 3/6/1870 notes: In the London Bankruptcy Court, Basinghall Street. In the matter of a Bankruptcy petition avainst Wardle Eastland Evans, of no.40 Welbeck Street, Marylebone, in the county of Middlesex, Harmonium manufacturer.
Upon the hearing of this petition this day, and upon proof satisfactory to the Court of the debt of the petitioner, and of the set or acts of the bankruptcy alleged to have been committed by the said Wardle Eastland Evans having been given, it is ordered that the said Wardle Eastland Evans be, and is hereby adjudged bankrupt. - Given under the seal of this court this 30th day of May 1870.
By the court, P.H Pepys, Registrar.

On 3/1/1871 it was announced a dividend of 10s in the pound has been declared...

The matter was formerly closed on 26/1/1872 with full discharge on 8/6/1872: Upon reading a report of the Trustee of the property of the bankrupt, dated the 2nd day of December, 1871, reporting that so much of the property of the bankrupt as can, according to the joint opinion of himself and the Committee of Inspection, thereunto annexed in writing, be realized without needlessly protracting the bankruptcy, has been realized, as shown by the statement thereunto annexed, and a Dividend to the amount of ten shillings in the pound has been paid, and upon reading the report of the Official Assignee, dated the 18th day of January instant, and the affidavit of John Swain, sworn the 11th day of January instant, and the affidavit of Robert Wilson, sworn the 17th day of January instant, doth order and declare that the bankruptcy of the said Wardle Eastland Evans has closed. Given under the Seal of the Court this 24th day of January, 1872. An order of discharge was granted on 8/6/1872.

Un-daunted our man carried on inventing and on 24/12/1875 submitted a patent application no.4,283 under the title of Professor of Music for ``improvements to harmoniums''. He was now in Cantelows Road, Middlesex.

Activity ceased when Mr. Evans died of a stroke at the age of 74 in either May or June of 1884. He had been negociating the sale of his patent for the expression stop.

Evans is variously recorded as being at Albert Villa, Portland Sqare, Cheltenham in 1841, 1 Bath Buildings, Bath Road, Cheltenham in 1851, 1 Trinity Terrace, Cheltenham (business premises), 5 Pittville Str, Cheltenham (business premises), 2 Andover Terrace, Cheltenham 1847-50, Norfolk Street, Sheffield, 1842 and 2B Market Place, Great Portland Street, London, 1865-84. There are also addresses in Sheffield. He was advertising harmoniums from the Great Portland address in the London Gazette of Oct'1866.

His main harmonium business had started at 2B Market Place around 1866 but moved to Marylebone Road. In 1860 it was advertised that Evans' patent English Harmonium was built by Boosey and Sons (see above) under supervision of Mr. Evans. These were expensive instruments with prices ranging from 10 to 44 guineas for a single manual and 45 to 100 guineas for a 2 manual instrument. They did however win acclaim from musicians W.T. Best, M.W. Balfe and Alfred Mellow. Some of these instruments had percussion stops and used German reeds on the pedal department. By 1864 the instruments were being manufactured in Evans' own premises and various models were known also as Cottage Harmonium and School Harmonium.

Evans' instruments are now extremely rare so only a few can be illustrated. One is shown in the Seraphine section 3.

Harmonium restored by L. Huivenaar

Here are some photos from Dutch restorer Louis Huivenaar. It is an English pressure reed organ by Evans from 1865. When he saw the instrument for the first time, the bellows were leaky, the internals needed repair and even some parts were missing.

The instrument was first dismantled and cleaned. Next he made the missing parts from the same material from which they would originally have been made. When all the parts were complete and in working order the instrument was rebuilt.

Now the instrument is used again by the owner and is also a beautiful piece of furniture.

The photos show firstly the pieces of the case being cleaned and repaired.


Then the pedals and the bellows being repaired. The bellows were repaired by using new linen and leather, keeping to the original colours.


The result - a reborn instrument.


Evans 2M

This instrument is said to be by Evans and built in 1860. Notice the likeness to the one belonging to Rodney Reynolds above.


Dallas Heritage Village, USA

See One of the exhibits in this museum is to feature an Evans English Harmonium. It illustrates the sort of items brought from home back east, or out of the country, to the frontier setting. These items frequently arrived in less than perfect condition, but were too important to early settlers to discard due to minor problems and continued to be used.

I was contacted by Hal Simon, the curator, with further details. I have attached photos of our harmonium. It is labeled as ``Evans, London, English Harmonium and Wind Indicator'', and with ``Finlays on & Co., Cheltenham''. The labeled caps on the ends of the stops are glazed porcelain and the keys are ivory. Any information you might be able to give me about the date of our instrument and the history of the company would be greatly appreciated.

It has 10 stops.

Charles Kelly and Co. (c.1851-1906)

kelly_name4.jpg kelly_name.jpg

Kelly and Co. of London are listed in the Database of British Organ Builders as piano dealers, harmonium makers to the Royal Family and musical auctioneers. Instruments were supplied to Queen Victoria. They are also referred to as Makers of harmoniums to Her Majesty and the late Imperial Family of France as on the above name labels. Quite an honour either way! The firm was successively based at 11 Charles Street, Cavendish Square, London in 1878, but with showrooms which he referred to as his ``pianoforte bazaar'' initially at 7-8 High Street, Kensington and Baker Street, Portman Square (1854) then 10-12 Charles Street, Berners Street, Middlesex Hospital, London. Kelly started as an auctioneer and dealer in pianos.

In Jan'1863 he was advertising as follows in the Musical Times:

KELLY'S ENGLISH MODEL HARMONIUMS, upon the model of his Great
Exhibition instrument, no.3456. The best made, fullest tone, quickest
articulation, and cheapest yet produced, in elegant cases, for the
drawing-room, chapel or study. At 10 and 11, Charles-street,
Berners-street, Oxford-street.

They exhibited at the Paris 1867 exhibition (London Gazette). In 1872 they were advertising as follows:

KELLY'S ORGAN HARMONIUMS, as manufactured for Her Majesty, are the
only instruments of English manufacture that received any award at
the Paris and Dublin Exhibition. A liberal allowance to the
clergy. 11, Charles-street, Berners-street. Price lists post free.

Charles Kelly held a joint patent with C. Laurent reference number 41 in 1867 for a Swell action. He died in 1873.

London Gazette 30/5/1873: Charles Kelly, Deceased. ... Notice is hereby given, that all creditors and other persons having any claims or demands against the estate of Charles Kelly, late of Belle Vue, Finchley, and 9A, 10, and 11, Charles Street, Middlesex Hospital, and 68 Westbourne Grove, Bayswater, all in the county of Middlesex, Pianoforte and Harmonium Manufacturer, and Dealer and Auctioneer, deceased (who died on the 8th day of April, 1873, and whose will was duly proved by Charlotte Chasemore Kelly, of Belle Vue, Finchley aforesaid, Widow, the executrix in the said will named, on the 2nd day of May instant, in the Principal Registry of Her Majesty's Court of Probate in London), are hereby required to send in the particulars of their debts, claims, or demands to me, the undersigned, as Solicitor to the said executrix, on or before the 10th day of July next; and in default the said executrix will at the expiration of that time distribute the assets of the said deceased amongst the parties entitled thereto, having regard only to the claims of which the said executrix shall then have received notice; and that the said executrix will not be liable or answerable for the assets, or any part thereof, so distributed to any person or persons of whose debts, claim, or demand she shall not then have received notice. Dated this 27th day of May, 1873. Benjamin Humphries Tromp, 37, Essex Street, Strand, London, Solicitor to the said Executrix.

In 1874 in The Musical Times of 1st June it was as follows:

Second hand Pianofortes. -- 150 by Broadwood, Collard, Erard, Allison,
&c., from 4 guineas upwards. Harmoniums (new) from £5, in Walnut or
Mahogany cases. Largest stock of Pianos and Harmoniums in London at
Kelly and Co.'s, 11 Charles Street, Middlesex Hospital. Trade supplied.

Charles Kelly was still listed in the 1882 London directory at 68 Westbourne Grove.

There had been a previous company of pianoforte makers, Kelly and Lyon of 58 Baker Street, then 8 High Street, Kensington and 22 Nassau Street, Middlesex Hospital from 1851-5. The partnership with Frederick Galliard Lyon was actually dissolved in May 1851. The Charles Kelly company is linked to that of Constant Laurent who possibly manufactured at least some of the instruments. The company is also linked to C. Bloe who apparently at least traded from the same address. Kelly's originally imported and distributed the good quality harmoniums made by Cesarini of Paris, France c.1860.


There was also a Kelly and Co. of 14-16 Mortimer Street, Cavendish Square until 1894. Ord-Hume [140] lists this as a separate entry, as does the London directory of 1882. In Aug'1890 however they advertised as Pianoforte, harmonium and American organ manufacturers to Her Majesty. One single rank instrument of this kind following the prize winning exhibit at the 1885 exhibition, was at the Church of St. George of Arreton, Isle of Wight. Here is another, noted as winning the only award for English Harmoniums at the Paris and Dublin exhibition and Kelly as Manufacturer to Her Majesty and the Imperial Family of France.

kelly_name3.jpg kelly_name5.jpg


The relationship between these partners when they dissolved the business is clarified by the London Gazette entry 28/6/1881: Notice is hereby given, that the Partnership lately subsisting between tbe undersigned, Reginald Wansbrough Kelly, Charles Robert Bloe, and Charles Evelyn Fayres Micklefield, under the style or firm of Kelly and Company, in the business of Piano and Harmonium Manufacturers and Dealers and Auctioneers, at 14 and 16 Mortimer Street, Middlesex Hogpital, in the county of Middlesex, was, on the 26th day of November last, dissolved, so far as regards the said Charles Robert Bloe, who retired. The business will, as from the above date, be carried on by the said Reginald Wansbrough Kelly and Charles Evelyn Fayres Micklefield, under the style or firm of Kelly and Company, and by whom all debts owing to and from the late firm are to be received and paid. Dated this 20th day of June, 1881. R.W. Kelly, Charles R. Bloe, Charles E.F. Micklefield.

The new company had catalogue no.3,544 at the 1885 London Exhibition and were awarded a bronze medal for American organs and harmoniums.

R.W. Kelly was actually the son of Charles Kelly and listed as a pianoforte, harmonium and american organ manufacturer, salesman and auctioneer. C.E.F. Micklefield of 62 Gloucester Crecent, Regent's Park and 14-16 Mortimer Street, Oxford Street and R.W. Kelly of Dollar Brae, Northwood were both declared bankrupt in 1894.

Saltaire Museum - ROS Database entry 406 2MP/6:7 1862

There is one very special instrument acquired for the Fluke collection in 1986, referenced in the ROS database as entry 406. It is a very grand 2MP instrument with carved oak case and flat pedalboard specially made for the London International Exhibition of 1862. It has 34 stops. Although it won a prize for the carvings on the case, I personally think its rather ugly! I have no idea what it sounds like when played. It is quite possible that it was made by Constant Laurent who later owned it for a while.

The following photographs are © Fluke Collection.


The following photograph from Fritz Gellerman's database shows the instrument prior to restoration.


The stops are as follows.


Top Row (blue) Pedals: Trombone, Trumpet 8'. 
Top row (green) Upper manual: Forte, Keraulophone 8', Bugle 4',
   Bourdon 16', Euphone 8', Grand Jeu, Clarabella 8', Clarinette 16',
   Bagpipe, Fifre 4', Voix Angelique, Piccolo 8', Forte
Lower row (pink) Lower manual: Sourdine, Contra-Bass, Dolciana 8',
   Violoncello 8', Basson 8', Musette 16', Dolciana 8', Voix Celeste,
Sliding levers on each cheek for lower manual (organe): Forte
3 Knee levers: left and right, swells; centre Grand Jeu.

This instrument was featured in an episode of the BBC series ``Antiques Road Trip''.

It is now in the East Midlands Cinema Organ Association collection as are some other instruments formerly at Saltaire. They have around 100 instruments.

ROS DB entry 3059

Another Kelly harmonium serial number 2278 with the following stops: Forte, Sordine 8', Dulciana 8', Bassoon 8', Bourdon 16', Diapason 8', Expression, Diapason 8', Clarinette 16', Oboe 8', Dulciana 8', Tremolo 16', Forte. It has CC-c''' compass and an oak case.

Louis Huivenaar - HVN-0300

This is a 2M instrument, HVN-0300 dated 12/5/1869.

Manual II: Keraulophon Bass, Dulciana Bass, Dulciana Treble, Keraulophon Treble

Manual I: Forte, Sourdine, Bassoon, Clairon, Bourdon, Diapason, Coupler, Expression, Diapason, Clarinette, Fifre, Oboe, Tremolo, Forte.

There is a Grand Jeu knee lever.

The reeds in this instrument were made by Estève of Paris. Notice some unusual ``anglicised'' stop names. Kelly instruments were also successful in the Paris Exposition of 1867. See also Boosey and Ching above for another similar instrument.


e-Bay *3482

This harmonium was advertised by a vendor in Suffolk during Apr' 2018. It is said to date from 1872.


Note the shape of the opening above the treadles which seems to be quite characteristic of this period of harmoniums by Kelly and Co. Earlier ones had a small rectangular opening. The shaped pillars at each side are also characteristic. Here is another one:


Abbotsford 1M

The Abbotsford instrument is slightly different and presumably earlier. It was for sale in Canada in Aug'2015, I received photos from Roy Kantola. Very little more is known about it.


Roy told me he had also seen an advert for a small 3-stop Kelly organ in Australia. That one has the same treadle opening as EB3482 and WP8704.

C. Laurent (1859-86)


F. Constant Laurent (b.1824) had a steam factory at 7 Paradise Place, London and showrooms at 85 High Street, Marylebone c.1878. He is listed in the 1881 Census as being a harmonium maker with four employees, married and born in Haute-Saône France. He had a son also called Constant Laurent (b.1867). Trade ads noted: harmonium and anglo-organ manufacturer, established 1859.

On 13/8/1861 the London Gazette had the following notice: The Partnership hitherto existing between Charles D'Holande and Constant Laurent, Harmonium Makers, of no.7 Grotto Passage, High Street, Marylebone, has been this day dissolved by mutual consent. Signed this 10th day of August, 1861. Charles D'Holande. Constant Laurent.

Laurent likely built a large number of instruments for other manufacturers including Charles Kelly. He held a joint patent with Charles Kelly no.41 in 1867 for a Swell action. The firm was still listed in the London directory of 1882, but sold to Frederick Mesnage in 1886 or 1887.

Indeed an label on a 1M suction instrument in the Auckland War Memorial Museum from c.June 1876 states:

  English Model Harmonium
         C. Laurent
  Manufacturer to the late
          C. Kelly
85, High Street, Marylebone. W. 
  Established in London 1859.

Also claiming These instruments have gained the only award for English manufacuture at the Paris and Dublin exhibitions. Manufactured for the Majesty, the Duke of Edinburgh, Duchess of Sutherland, Earl of Devon and other of the Nobility.

This surviving instrument has a 5-octave F-f keyboard in the American style with sound frets underneath and on knee swell.


S.F. Pichler (1851-63)


Seraphicus Francis Pichler was a harmonium manufacturer who worked for Charles Wheatstone, inventor of the Concertina and many other free reed instruments. He is noted as a Hungarian mechanician and harmonium builder (b.c.1812-d.3/1/1900). His father was Lawrence Pichler and his wife was Jane Hayward (b.-d.1915) daughter of Samuel Hayward. They married in 1869, and her sister married one J.D. Shalkenbach who was working with him on other projects - like the Electric Piano-Orchestra. They had a number of joint inventions. In 1881 they were noted as living at 162 Great Portland Street, Marylebone. In 1867 a joint patent with John Henry Pepper had noted them at the same address.

In Jan'1863 he was advertising as follows in the Musical Times:

HARMONIUMS and PEDAL HARMONIUMS, by Francis Pichler, 162 Great
Portland-Street, Oxford Street, W., Manufacturer to the late
W.~Wheatstone, Inventor and maker of the Prize Medal Instrument of
1851; also of the Cottage Harmonium. Originator of the Round-end
Sharps so extensivelu used in Pianofortes and Harmoniums. Having
manufacturerd 4,000 harmoniums, offers to the Public, a large
assortment of all the latest improvemtns, from 5guineas upwards.


For more information about Schalkenbach's career and this weird invention see: Failed Histories of Electronic Music Was this the first incarnation with an organ with electric action which lead to the cinema and theatre organs of the 1920s? It seems that other Pichler projects may have failed.

Jane Pichler died in 1915, her address was given as Marylebone Workhouse, but she died in the London County Asylum in Ilford, Essex - a sad ending. The couple seemed to have formerly lived in more affluent circles as the 1881 census shows them sharing a house with Baron Orczy (who later wrote the Scarlet Pimpernel novels) his wife and daughter.

Francis Pichler won a prize at the Great Industrial Exhibition in the Crystal Palace at Hyde Park, London 1851 for a cottage harmonium. He also won a bronze medal at the 1885 Exhibition (catalogue no.3,511) for concertinas and harmoniums. His premises were at 162 Great Portland Street, Oxford Street, London around 1862-3. He was also involved in some way with H.T. Wedlake. In 1867 he applied for a patent joint with John Henry Pepper of 61 Boundary Road, St. John's Wood for some kind of automaton, and in 1876 joint with Prof. Edward Vincent Gardner of Berner's College for an apparatus for raising and lowering weights. There were other patent applications in his name from the 1850s on.

Ian Thompson [193] mentions a 2MP harmonium by Pichler with a ``stowaway'' pedal board. This may have been another exhibition instrument. It had unusual stop names like Wois Houman in the bass and Wois Celest in the treble for the 8' undulating stops. Other London makers had strange ``anglicised'' names, such as Saudine which could have been based on their vernacular pronunciation.

Finally, I found a curious article in The Musical Standard, vol.3 of 1865 as follows.

SOUND MADE VISIBLE. - Those of our readers who are interested in the science of musical sounds would do well to hear and see a lecture which is now being given daily and nightly at the Polytechnic Institution, entitled ``Sound and Acoustic Allusions''. Although the greater portion of the lecture is of course made up of experiments calculated rather to surprise the unlearned than instruct the scientific observer, there is one experiment embraced in the lecture which we believe is perfectly new, and which we would gladly see pursued further. By means of an apparatus, of which the componet parts are bellows, harmonium reeds, a mirror and the oxy-hydrogen light, Mr. Pepper (so to speak) makes sound visible! In other words, he causes the reeds to vibrate by means of the belows, and casts upon a screen, by means of the mnirror, a reflaction of the vibrations. When the two reeds used are in perfect unison, the result is a clearly defined, and almost stationary, ring of light; when two reeds out of tune with each other are operated upon, there appears upon the screen a visible commotion, as it were, of lines of light fighting with each other. Lastly, when the reeds are tuned to an interval of a third, there is thrown upon the screen a curious and symnmetrical figure, of great beaury, but of a shape not easily described by words. Mr. Pepper does not show the visible effect of tuning the reeds to other intervals, or of combninations fo three reeds; probably a general audience would be bored by an extension of the experiments so far; but we sincerely hope that the investigation of which so curious a test is given to the public in thie lectures will not be allowed to rest. Mr. Pepper has been assisted in the researches which have led to these experiments by Mr. Pichler, the harmonium maker, of Portland-place. Other illustrations of more or less interest to the musician, occur in the lecture; and amongst these which appeal to the appreciation of all is one in which Mr. Pepper actually produces, from a simple machine, the enunciation with startling distinctness, of the word ``Mamma! mamma!''. In speaking and singing machines, such as that recently attempted to be passed off upon the public, we need scarecely say, Mr. Pepper does not believe.

H.T. Wedlake (1859-1902)


Henry Thomas Wedlake (b.1826-d.1909) of 28 Lime Street, St. Pancras, London and from 1871 to 1891 at 41 Maitland Park Road, Kentish Town, London, was a prolific pipe and reed organ builder. He also had business premises at 8 Berkeley Road, Regent's Park. He worked at Mitchell and Groves and later Gray and Davidson. When Boosey and Co. teamed up with W.E. Evans and advertised for a foreman he applied and got the job. He thus carried out work for Boosey and Evans (probably on the New English Harmonium) and on his own account until 1862. He held several patents, two of which were for improvements to harmoniums from 1861 onwards, see Chapter 2.4.

The name plate above is from the pipe organ in Lambley church, Northumberland.

The Eclipse pneumatic lever was awarded a bronze medal at the 1885 London Exhibition where Wedlake had catalogue no.3,504.

His addresses in 1861 were listed as 327 Euston Road and 58 Warren Street. On the 1866 patent application it was 8 Tolmers Square, Hampstead Road. One night I walked around the area, which is in the Borough of Camden to the west of Euston station, and noted that these two premises are probably back to back with an adjoining yard which is not visible from the road. William Sames was at 331 Euston Road some time later. 58 Warren Street is a 3 storey house which is now a Tandoori restaurant and 327 Euston Road is now also an restaurant specialising in Indian cuisine.

Organ builders in the 19th Century were a close knit community and hopeful apprentices would train to be professionals with the best craftsmen of the time. Wedlake learned his trade alongside Henry Willis at John Gray's. The two of them, off their own bat and while still apprentices, made a 3 stop organ for violinist Dando for use in Crosby Hall, as noted in Musical Opinion, April 1909. The Daily Chronicle of 27/5/1907 tells us that Wedlake's daughter Polly, who was his workmate (to the surprise of some clergy in churches they visited) had invented a novel pneumatic action which was being installed in Seven Kings' Wesleyan Church.

According to the 1871 census, Henry was living with his wife Elizabeth, daughter Mary and sons Edward, Walter and Wallace and one servant. Note, Polly is a Victorian nickname for Mary.


According to the 1881 and 1891 censuses, the members of the family who worked in the firm included Henry's daughter and sons, Mary (b.1849) Edward (b.1853) and Walter (b.1858). They possibly also made a self playing organ called the Orchestrion. Robert Gellerman notes that the business was registered at 8 Berkeley Road, near Chalk Farm Station, Regent's Park, London and that he previously worked for Boosey and Co. He was certainly operating from Chalk Farm around 1896.

Edward Wedlake actually lived at 8 Berkeley Road, London and by 1881 he was 28 years old and living there with his brothers Walter J. (23) also an organ builder and Wallace (18), sister Mary (32) and grand daughters [sic] Elizabeth and Kate Webster aged 5 and 3 respectively. There were also three boarders; two carpenters and a music student. This is a rather strange census entry as it is not clear why Edward is listed as the head of the family. There is no mention of Henry and his wife. Who is the mother of Elizabeth and Kate who had married a Mr. Webster?.

We now know from Gill Wedlake (not actually a direct relative) that the 1881 Census lists Henry Thomas and Elizabeth at 42 Upper Lewes Road, Brighton when the survey was taken. This may have been a temporary address while working on a commission.

In 1891 Henry and Elizabeth were living at 41 Maitland Park Road, St. Pancras. Also with them were Mary and Edward, all organ builders, and a general servant. Mary worked in the business from 1891-1935 and was noted as a pipe decorator specialising in front pipes for casework.

One of Thomas Wedlake's inventions was ``double touch'', much later used on cinema organs. In this the keys could be pressed to sound one set of reeds (or pipes) and then pressed harder to get others to sound. It was recorded in Musical Opinion [225] that this had first been suggested by Augustus Lechmore Tamplin. Tamplin was a professor of music and the organist at St. James, Marylebone, London who died in 1889. He was very interested in creating organs with interesting ``orchestral'' effects, the fore-runners of the theatre and cinema organs. Wedlake tried this idea in practice on a harmonium built by Boosey and Co. under supervision of W.E. Evans (see above). Tamplin's invention had been suggested to improve the feel of the harmonium keyboard. The reeds in the back organ were arranged to speak on the first touch and those in the front on second. There was however an earlier patent application number 2,066 of 27th August 1860 from Richard Archibald Brookman of London on behalf of Joseph Poole Pirsson for something very similar described as the ``Trylodeon''. See Ord-Hume [140].

Wedlake was for a period a foreman with Boosey and Evans (see Boosey and Co. and W.E. Evans) until they parted company in 1862. His patent of 1861 was for harmoniums which had lower wind pressure for the bass reeds, but also with an equalising mechanism.

A possible large harmonium by Wedlake was used for a short time in the London Colosseum in Regent's Park. There is however some confusion with the name Pichler or Pilcher, see Ord-Hume [140]. This may however be explained as follows. After Henry retired he wrote a note for Musical Opinion in February 1903. This mentioned his involvement in the development of the Vocalion and also a large harmonium he had constructed for a Hungarian client called Mr. Pichler. This is related in Chapter 7, see also S.F. Pichler above. Please help to clarify this story.

Rob Allan