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Fair organs

Irvin's gallopers with horses removed for church service

Fair organs were originally built to attract punters at fairgrounds, usually on rides, and they were traditionally moved from fair to fair on wooden-wheeled trailers, possibly pulled by steam traction engines. They were robust enough to play non-stop throughout the day, for days on end for the duration of each fair. They are now mostly seen on gallopers, but in the past - and indeed in antique fairs now - on chairoplanes, steam yachts and others, and also in preservation. Irvin's 89-key Marenghi, pictured here, was still in fairground use until relatively recently. This photo was taken at Abingdon Street Fair c1984, and is the subject of a restoration article on this site.

As these organs were designed to play AT the public - to be heard above the general noise of the fair, their pipework usually included multiple ranks of the "violin" and "trumpet" types. The four kinds of fair organ I built from scratch are detailed here:

Small 48-key
Large 48-key
Limonaire-style 52-key
89-key G4