I've just been on one of my periodical visits to Michael Broadway, to
pick up a number of wins (mostly obscure romantic stuff) from the Post
Bid Enterprise roll auction his wife Frances runs, and yarn about
matters pneumo-musical. As an organist and organ tuner Michael has
contacts off the normal player-piano run and I mentioned (inaccurately)
in MMD970314 a roll-operated carillon in London he maintains. Another
has now turned up in Derbyshire and the mechanism sits in pieces in his
parlour, next to a Weber Pianola grand, awaiting a major rebuild.
Michael has now garnered some more information about these carillons.
They represented the tail end of an old association between Taylor's,
organ builders, and the Aeolian Co. in England, although the numbers
were evidently not high.
The London and Derbyshire carillons were built in 1950 and 1938
respectively. Aeolian left the UK scene in 1932 (though the Aeolian
American Corp. maintained a tiny sales office at Aeolian Hall, London,
through its many years as a BBC recording studio, up till 1962 or so)
so that the 1938 carillon seems to have been made by Sir Herbert
Marshall & Co., who were still manufacturing Angelus players, and the
1950 one by Taylor's themselves as a kind of Chinese copy of one of the
Both use roll drive parts and pump obviously second-hand from Duo-Art
uprights, using double-finger tracking. The central eight notes of the
80 are read (!) and drive a small stack which, on the 1938 unit, drives
eight substantial striker pneumatics, each about 12 inches by 4. The
1950 unit uses electric drive between the note pouches and the striker
pneumatics, which are some way up a tower and have a second pump --
Michael got to hear about the second one through an appeal in the
"Church Times": did anyone know of a pneumatic carillon repairer ?
Taylor's (despite their awareness of his care of the 1950 one in London)
had maintained there were no such people left and the church would do
best to have a new disk-driven job for =L=10,000. Michael, after
receiving details, quoted them "a few hundred" for a complete rebuild
and was gratefully awarded the job.
The mechanism is in quite fair order -- the pneumatics are beautifully
done with facings on the wooden edges to reduce leakage -- and while
leather patches would probably lend it another 30 years, Michael is
starting again. It's strange to reflect that the church folk in
Derbyshire will never know that their carillon has happened up against
one of the very best people in the field they could have chosen.
The roll selection for these carillons is not very exciting -- a few
bell changes, a few hymns, and even a couple of secular pieces, Happy
Birthday and Annie Laurie. The pre-war ones obviously originate from
the Meloto stable (Universal Music Co.) and the post-war ones from
Artona Music Rolls in Ramsgate. Michael has offered to expand the
repertoire a little with the help of Malcolm Robinson in Southport --
some Bach, perhaps ? -- but this is, apparently, expenditure the church
has not budgeted for.