The Instruments

The Instruments

46-Key Limonaire No. 3948

Built by Limonaire Frères in Paris, c. 1909, as a 35-key instrument, this organ was imported by Chiappa Ltd in the early 1920s and converted to play standardised 46-key music. It was sold to Harvey & Sanders who used it in their juvenile ride to travel London and the home counties (most notably Amersham Charter Fair). Ted Reed purchased both the organ and ride in 1986 before selling the juvenile sometime later. The organ retains its showland decoration.
Played on open days between:
November, January & March: 11:20 – 11:35 & 13:45 – 14:00
December, February & April: 12:30 – 12:45 & 15:25 – 15:40
Photographs: AFOM Collection

89-Key Marenghi No. 2456

This instrument was built in Paris c.1910; its early history is unknown, but by 1921 found its way to Derbyshire showman Harry Hall, who used it in his scenic whale switchback ride. The organ features one of only two known original examples of Marenghi’s Grelotophone– a set of tuned sleighbells. It was later sold to West Country showmen Anderton & Rowland’s, who used it in their four-abreast galloping horses roundabout. The ride and organ passed to Sam Smart and, finally, the Kursaal in Southend. By 1968 the organ had suffered considerable damage and was purchased by Ted Reed for preservation. Chiappa Ltd, London rebuilt the instrument and James Tiller of Long Sutton redecorated the organ as you see it today.

Played on open days between:
November, January & March: 11:00 – 11:20, 13:30 – 13:45 & 16:35 – 17:00
December, February & April: 12:15 – 12:30, 14:40 – 15:00 & 16:40 – 17:00

Marenghi Factory

Photographs: AFOM Collection (lower: postal card believed to be organ 2456 outside the Marenghi factory. This image was used to illustrate façade designs to potential clients).

89-key Marenghi 2456 playing: The Way You Look Tonight – Jerome Kern

89-Key Gavioli No. 8265

Built in the 1890s, this is an early example of an 89-key instrument with automatic registration; it was imported to England by Arthur Righini of Manchester who sold it to showman Edmund Holland in 1906 for use in his four-abreast galloping horses. It later passed to Lancashire showmen Silcock Bros., who had it converted by Wright & Holmes from perforated cardboard books to pinned barrel operation. The instrument was returned to the former by Chiappa Ltd, London c.1953. After a brief ownership with Screeton Bros. it was purchased in 1965 by Ted Reed, when it was once again overhauled by Chiappa Ltd and redecorated by James Tiller of Long Sutton.

In 1991 the Museum suffered a devastating fire, this Gavioli being one of its victims – the organ was restored to playing condition with new drum wings and proscenium carved to match the originals and decorated by Jimmy Williams, in the style of Tiller.

Played on open days between:
November, January & March: 11:35 – 11:50, 14:00 – 14:15 & 16:20 – 16:35
December, February & April: 12:45 – 13:00 & 15:40 – 15:55

Silcock Gavioli

Photographs: AFOM Collection (lower: as used in Holland’s gallopers, unknown date).

89-key Gavioli 8265 playing: Merrily We Roll Along – Tobias (recording courtesy of Thomas Potter).

46-Keyless Wilhelm Bruder Söhne No. 3633

Built in Waldkirch, in the Black Forest region of Germany, the 46-keyless range were built to the order and specification of Chiappa Ltd. This particular example was produced c.1924 and supplied new to Lovatts of Scotland, who used the organ in their galloping horse roundabout. It was purchased for preservation by George Evans and Ted Reed in 1963. Having subsequently changed hands, Mr Reed was able to acquire the instrument once more in 2001; it became a permanent exhibit at the Amersham Fair Organ Museum in 2004.

Played on open days between:
November, January & March: 11:50 – 12:05 & 14:15 – 14:30
December, February & April: 13:00 – 13:15 & 15:55 – 16:10
Photograph: AFOM Collection

46-keyless Bruder 3633 playing: I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream! – Johnson, Moll & King

51-Key Jan van Eyk - 'Paulus Potter'

Unique in this collection, this organ is known as a ‘Dutch street organ’ and dates from 1989 – manufactured by Jan van Eyk & Son in Terwolde, The Netherlands. As opposed to the UK, where mechanical organs were used primarily in amusement attractions, street organs have been traditionally used in Holland to serenade passers by in the street with the latest musical ‘hits’ of the moment.

Tonally, the organ plays in a different style to the other instruments on display, in order to carry a diverse genre of music. It features registers for violin, bourdon and tremulant. Despite having been produced in recent decades, it is still representative of the traditional street organ sound.

Played on open days between:
November, January & March: 12:05 – 12:20 & 14:30 – 14:45
December, February & April: 13:15 – 13:30 & 16:10 – 16:25

51-key Jan van Eyk

Photograph: AFOM Collection

51-key van Eyk ‘Paulus Potter’ playing: Sh-Boom – Keyes, Feaster, McRae & Edwards

89-Key Gavioli No. 8757

This instrument was built at the Gavioli works in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. Believed to originally be an 84-key instrument, it was imported by Chiappa Ltd, London, who rebuilt the organ to play standardised 89-key ‘Violin-Bariton’ cardboard music books.

The organ was used successively in the three-abreast galloping horses roundabout of Henry Jennings, J & H Williams, Sam Williams, Con. Studt, S. Manning, J. Connely, and finally, Butlins of Bognor Regis. It was purchased in a derelict condition by John H. Bailey of Stratford-upon-Avon who restored the organ and decorative front. In 1997 the instrument was purchased by Ted Reed and became a permanent exhibition at the Amersham Fair Organ Museum.

Played on open days between:
November, January & March: 12:20 – 12:35 & 14:45 – 15:00
December, February & April: 11:00 – 11:20, 13:30 – 13:45 & 16:25 – 16:40

Bailey Gavioli

Photographs: AFOM Collection & National Fairground & Circus Archive, University of Sheffield (lower: Gavioli 8757 in Jennings’ gallopers c.1911).

89-key Gavioli 8757 playing: Kiss Me Goodnight, Sergeant Major – Noel & Pelosi

70-Key Ch. Hooghuys No. 660

Reconstructed to perforated book operation by Charles Hooghuys in Grammont, Belgium after 1925; this organ started life as a German barrel instrument of the 1880s – believed to be by Wilhelm Bruder Söhne. After a working life on the fairgrounds of Europe with Willemyns, Rorive and Staelens it was purchased and brought to the UK by Paul Corin for his mechanical music museum in St. Keyne, Cornwall. It later passed to Lionel Creed and Arthur Mason, who sold it to Ted Reed in 1988.

The Hooghuys was one of the casualties of the Museum fire in 1991; the instrument was restored to playing condition, with a replica front and figures being carved by Woody White and decorated by Jimmy Williams.

Played on open days between:
November, January & March: 12:35 – 12:50 & 15:25 – 15:40
December, February & April: 11:20 – 11:35 & 13:45 – 14:00
Photograph: AFOM Collection

72-Key Decap - 'Pascal'

In the years around 1950 the firm of Gebr Decap in Antwerp built a very successful series of 72 key dance organs. Some 40 years later, these remained in great demand from collectors, so the firm, which was still in business produced, a further batch of these organs to an identical design, of which ‘Pascal’ is one. Dance organs, which were popular in Belgium and the southern part of the Netherlands, were originally intended for use in cafes and dance halls where they would provide music for entertainment and dancing. The visible percussion, accordion and saxophone on the facade provided much visual interest in addition the musical effect. Nevertheless, behind the façade, the musical sound is produced entirely by pipework, as in the case of a fairground organ. For many years ‘Pascal’ was in the ownership of the Wolsleger family who would take it out to Tilburg city centre. When offered for sale, after many years of use, Ted Reed took the opportunity to acquire it and bring it to the Museum.

Played on open days between:
November, January & March: 13:05 – 13:20 & 15:55 – 16:10
December, February & April: 11:50 – 12:05 & 14:15 – 14:30

Decap 'Pascal'

Photograph courtesy of Pascal Wolslegel

72-key Decap ‘Pascal’ playing: Oh! Mr Porter – Le Brunn

60-Key Gavioli No. 6778

This instrument is believed to date from 1887. It spent its working life in the Scottish borders with the Wilmot family, who travelled galloping horses and a bioscope show. A new eight-tune barrel was pinned in 1926 by Wright & Holmes of Manchester, when they also fitted one of their automatic tune-changing devices. The organ was rescued by the Show Organ Society in the mid-1950s from Wilmot’s yard and sold, as found, to Mr Ian Crisp, who had it restored to playing condition. In 2009 the Amersham Fair Organ Museum was able to acquire the instrument for its permanent collection, a rare example of Gavioli’s barrel instruments.

1926 Wright & Holmes Barrel

  1. Am I Wasting my Time on You? – Johnson & Bibo
  2. So is Your Old Lady – Burke & Dubin
  3. Bye Bye Blackbird – Henderson & Dixon
  4. Baby Face – Akst & Davis
  5. When it’s Twilight in Missouri – Jack, Vincent & Herbert
  6. That’s Why I Love You – Donaldson & Ash
  7. Who? – Berlin & Kern
  8. Hoch Habsburg March – Kral
Played on open days between:
November, January & March: 13:20 – 13:30 & 16:10 – 16:20
December, February & April: 12:05 – 12:15 & 14:30 – 14:40

Wilmot's 60k Gavioli

Photographs: AFOM Collection & Renfrewshire Council (lower: the instrument in use with Wilmot’s c. 1887).

60-key Gavioli 6778 playing: Who? – Berlin & Kern

Weber 'Unika' Orchestrion No. 21752

Built by Gebruder Weber Orcherstrionfabrik in Waldkirch, Germany, these instruments were designed to imitate the small musical quartets found in cafés and restaurants throughout Europe. This example is believed to date from 1925. The orchestrion contains cello & violin pipes and a ‘mandolin’ attachment to the piano treble, with various expression devices, all controlled by a perforated paper music roll. Weber instruments were well known – being highly regarded because of their excellent construction and the astonishing musical repertoire produced by house arranger Gustav Bruder.

Previously, this instrument formed part of the Ashorne Hall collection near Warwick, until 2004 when it was acquired by Ted Reed for the Amersham Fair Organ Museum.

Played on open days between:
November, January & March: 12:50 – 13:05 & 15:40 – 15:55
December, February & April: 11:35 – 11:50 & 14:00 – 14:15
Photograph: AFOM Collection

Weber ‘Unika’ 21752 playing: I Lift Up My Finger & I Say Tweet Tweet – Saroni