Welcome to The Amersham Fair Organ Museum
Preserving Fairground Organs for your pleasure
Welcome to the Amersham Fair Organ Museum, one of our town’s best kept secrets! The collection was founded by Albert Edward ‘Ted’ Reed (1926 – 2022) who had a keen interest in steam engines and fairground equipment – notably mechanical organs. From the 1960s onward Ted expanded his collection to encompass the instruments on display at the Museum today.
In 2004 a charitable trust was formed in order to safeguard the future of this iconic collection and make it available to the public, it is a lasting tribute to Ted Reed, whose dedication and foresight in preserving fairground organs and their traditional music will ensure that this important part of Britain’s heritage is secure for future generations to enjoy.
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What is a fairground organ?
Mechanical ‘fairground’ organs were used by travelling amusement proprietors at the turn of the 20th century in order to provide music for their rides. These instruments work on the same principle as the pipe organ found within churches, with pressurised air being passed through actions and pipework, thus creating the sound. Instead of being played by means of an organist at a keyboard, the organs ‘read’ a perforated cardboard book, paper roll or pinned cylinder which is then communicated to the action in the usual way.
Unfortunately, mechanical organs fell out of favour in the 1930s when low-cost amplified records became available; many instruments were simply destroyed or salvaged for parts, thankfully some survived into the preservation age. In recent years there has been a resurgence in the popularity of mechanical organs, with many showmen bringing their instruments back into commission for the enjoyment of their patrons once more.
Plan Your Visit
The Amersham Fair Organ Museum
28 Plantation Road
Amersham-on-the-Hill, the home of the Amersham Fair Organ Museum is roughly 30 miles northwest of London and is easily accessible by car and public transport.
The Amersham Fair Organ Museum is approximately a 0.75 mile walk from Amersham [AMR] railway station, which is served by London Underground Metropolitan Line trains from Baker Street and Aldgate and Chiltern Railways services between London Marylebone and Aylesbury/ Aylesbury Vale Parkway.
On Sundays, Carousel Buses service 1A operates hourly between Hemel Hempstead and High Wycombe via Amersham, connecting with the West Coast main line and Chiltern Railways services from Banbury and Birmingham to London respectively. Alight at either Hervines Road (near the Boot and Slipper public house) or Amersham Station and the Museum is about a 0.75 mile walk from either.
From the M40 – Leave at Junction 2 and follow the A355 North towards Amersham. At the bottom of Gore Hill, at the roundabout take the third exit onto the A413, following the A404 Watford directions. Go across the next roundabout and up Stanley Hill. Turn left at the mini roundabout (signposted Chesham), go under the railway bridge, take the first exit off the next roundabout, then immediately right into Plantation Road. The entrance to the Museum is about half a mile away on the right.
From M25 clockwise – exit at junction 16 onto the M40 Oxford bound. Leave at junction 2 and then follow the M40 directions above.
From M25 anti-clockwise – exit at junction 18 and turn right at the end of the slip road onto the A404 towards Amersham. Follow the road through Chorleywood and Little Chalfont. After passing the Audi dealership, turn right at the mini roundabout (signposted Amersham-on-the-Hill and Chesham), go under the railway bridge, take the first exit off the next roundabout, then immediately right into Plantation Road. The entrance to the Museum is about half a mile away on the right.
From the A41 southbound – leave at the A416 Chesham exit and follow the A416 through Chesham towards Amersham. At the Boot and Slipper public house, turn left at the roundabout onto Rickmanswoth Road (signposted Rickmansworth/ Watford A4154). At the twin mini roundabouts, turn left onto Sycamore Road, then right at the next roundabout into Grimsdell’s Lane. The Museum entrance is on the left in about half a mile where it becomes Plantation Road.