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Norman and Beard historic information

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  • Norman and Beard historic information

    First of all - sorry if this is posted on the wrong thread - please move moderators.

    Our church here in the town of Burgersdorp, South Africa, is 100 years old this year. Also with this our Norman and Beard organ.
    I've had the priveledge to be organist in this congregation for 31 years.
    As part of our festivities we would like to compile a brochure on the organ - now the problem is that I do not have any information and would like to know if anybody could guide me as to where I can start my search for information.

    Any help will be appreciated.

    Thank you in advance.

    Regards from a sunny and hot South Africa.

    Christo Kritzinger

  • #2
    Hi Christo,

    Sounds like an interesting project. This page - from the English National Pipe Organ Register (NPOR) might help. It gives some basic details about Norman & Beard: I'm not sure whether any old records from the firm are still extant. I'll ask around and see if I can find anything out. Good luck with your research.


    • #3
      Your quest ties in with some of the research I am undertaking with regard to Compton Organs.

      Among my files I will have all the information you require, but off the top of my head I can give you a lot more information than you have at the moment, and I can fill in the details at a later stage.

      Norman & Beard Ltd., were probably the largest organ-building firm of their day, based in Norfolk in England. They had gained a very enviable reputation for quality craftsmanship even by 1912, which I presume is the date of the instrument to which you refer. Shortly before your organ was built, they had got involved with Robert Hope-Jones, and G W Wells Beard, one of the Norman & beard directors, was actually a board member of the Hope-Jones Electric Organ Co. It was in the Norman & Beard organ factory that Hope-Jones experimented with some of the extreme organ sounds he was later to incorporate into the "Unit Orchestra" and utlimately the "cinema organs" of Rudolph Wurlitzer.

      Robert Hope Jones eventually went to America and Wurlitzer, but Norman & Beard finished off many of Hope-Jone's outstanding contracts; by then having gained the rights to use the new patent electro-pneumatic actions of Hope-Jones. After that, they appear to have reverted back to pneumatic actions, which I would assume is the case with the organ you mention.

      At this time, the fashion was for orchestral tone and effects, but Norman & Beard still built "proper" organs rather than one-man orchestras, but always with quite a fundamental tone, big flutes and quite refined, but not over-smooth reeds. Somewhere, there is anecdote about cutomers requiring Diapasons with a "devotional tone", which translates into thick metal, lots of pipe nicking and quite high pressures.

      The firm eventually merged with William Hill, to become William Hill & Sons., Norman & Beard Ltd., under which title they re-built or built a number of important instruments in the UK, in Canada and especially in Australia.

      I shall endeavour to find out more, but this is at least a start for you.




      • #4
        Thanks a lot for this information. A real good start for me.

        Much appreciated.