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32-keyless Trumpet Organ

The original idea for this organ was born in Pembroke Dock in 1991 and 1992 when we were borrowing back organs (Heller Stern and the Cabinet Organ) we had sold, to play at various events including the Great Dorset Steam Fair, and the Tall Ships Race when it visited Milford Haven. In the spring of 1992 our street organ friends in south Wales all visited us and played their little street organs in the local park.  We wished we had a small organ to play with them too. I started developing the scale of the organ at that time. We ordered 20 keyless music stencilled but not cut, onto card that was wide enough for the enlarged scale so we could modify it ourselves.

Anna even began designing a façade for the organ in her head, down to the detail of what would be in the panels!  We thought at the time the organ would be called ‘Little Pembroke’ because the idea was born in Pembroke Dock. However we were too busy building organs for customers, then closed the business in December 1992 so the idea of the little street organ was put on hold. At the AGM of the Fair Organ Preservation Society in 1996 I had a conversation with friend Bob Wallington about the long held dream of the 32 note organ and an idea for a plan was born. I would design the organ and Bob would make the constituent parts. He would make them all x2, so he would have the parts to build himself one organ, and I would use the other parts to do the same for myself. At the same time Bob would learn how to build an organ and I would have parts made, all without payment in either direction.

It seemed like a good idea to me, but I insisted that I make the pipes for my organ myself. So the project began. The easiest way to describe the organ is to quote from my publicity of the time...

"This is advance notice of a small street organ the pre-production model of which is currently being built. It is based on the popular 20 note organs seen around the country, but incorporating several improvements.

"Top 'C' is restored to the scale, to complete the original concept. Tonal variety is provided by the addition of a solo trumpet, playing on separate keys. Expression is provided by a rank of piccolos, selected automatically. Steady wind is supplied by two double-acting feeders, with the motion smoothed by a heavy turning wheel.

"This book-playing organ is a truly melodious instrument, reproducing a wide variety of musical styles. Titles will be quickly added to the list, as they can largely be taken from music presently available for the 20 note scale. The overall impression will be that of a small German street organ, but with the "British" mellow sound. It will be small enough to carry in a car, being approximately 18" wide x 29" high. x 15" deep."

It took a while - Bob lived 250 miles away, and he didn't use a computer, so communication was limited to letters, land-line telephone, or a very long drive down and back, but eventually Bob's organ was working. He had put the bits together without a case, so everything was visible, and he had only one book of music, and that's how it was left. However my own organ progressed far more slowly, as it was a spare-time job. The organ's first outing was at a local church event in September 2016, pictured above.

I began by making the pipes, at the same time as making alterations to the design and specification over the years. Firstly, after Bob's organ showed that it was a little short of wind, I decided to abandon my original action design (two-stage) and use a simpler one stage action. Also I added a flute helper to the trumpet counter-melody and a quint rank to the melody forte piccolo, turning it into a mixture. Please view the specification. In 2018 I made a small modification, see description. A further modification was made during the 2020 lockdown without altering the spec.

My description here of the building of this organ is more detailed than the others - I had taken more photographs now that we're in the age of digital cameras. The separate pages of this account are:

2 Reservoir and feeders
3 Pipes
4 Distribution board
5 Action relay
6 Keyframe
7 Assembly
8 Façade
9 Lockdown modification
Video showing how the music is arranged for this organ.
The photos in this article are not necessarily in order of taking, so there may be signs of items not yet described in the text showing in the pictures. Some pictures were taken during trial assembly operations.
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