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Stephen Austin

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  1. Hello Everyone The ongoing search for information about my Mother's cousin Walter Sargeant who was said to have been an organ builder from the 1930's or thereabouts has reached an astonishing stage. I had put out requests for information on various organ forums including the ABRSM "Viva Organ". These brought in many replies from people suggesting I looked on the National Pipe Organ Register website where, there indeed, was reference to Wally Sargeant who had worked for John Compton Organ Co. Our own forum member BARRY WILLIAMS kindly phoned me with amazing news that he KNEW Wally in the 60's and that he was a decent chap, single and living in Clapham. Others gave me similar facts. There was the problem. A recent entry on Genes Reunited showed that a Wally/Walter (born Norwich - correct) died in 1951, leaving a wife Winifred. Someone said "don't trust everything you see on Genes Re-U". The owner of that website is also a "Sargeant" and refused to answer any further questions. Having found out so much about Wally from the NPOR, Elvin's Book "Pipes and Action" and from people that knew him, I was convinced that this was MY Walter/Wally and that some facts re: death dates had been incorrect. All the locations pointed to South or South East London - Orpington where two of my late Aunts said they had visited him just after the war, Surbiton where the unresponsive Sargeant lives, and Clapham where Barry and others said that Walter lived. On Saturday, I decided to trace, through Genes Re-U, anything about "Winifred" and sure enough found that several ladies matching her name and date and place of birth showed up. I sent messages to the owners of the information. One in particular replied within the hour saying that she is the GRANDDAUGHTER of Walter and Winifred Sargeant and that her Grandfather came from Norwich and died in 1951. I messaged back quickly and asked what was his profession. She came back quickly with - ORGAN BUILDER and that he worked for Henry Willis at their Brixton Factory in South London, prior to that for Norman & Beard in Norwich ...............and that her father, Walter's son is still alive and well. During the weekend, she and her husband have given me much other much information about family that my Mother can remember including the extraordinary street name in Norwich where my Mother's aunt - Walter's Mother lived thus confirming the genuine connection. The family are also living in South East London! So.............there were TWO Walter Sargeants - both organ builders, both living in South London. I can hardly believe that. I have been promised photos from the family - they will have to dig them out of the loft and I have contacted Henry Willis in Liverpool in the hope that they have some archive information. If anyone can add to this, I shall be very grateful. Slightly bewildered Stephen
  2. Guten Abend Vielen dank I did find the book......and ordered it !! Stephen
  3. Would you know if anyone has for sale / knows where I can obtain a copy of David Junchen's masterly work of literature and research "The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ Volume TWO" I have obtained Vol I and Vol III - would be nice to make up the trilogy. Just missed one last night on Ebay - by a couple of $ Thanks
  4. And here come the Mendels followed by the Mendels' son followed by Mr and Mrs Inuendo and their stupid son Dim Inuendo And from the theatre organists association, Mr & Mrs Inura, with a host of family members - the kith and KIN-URA (and judging by the previous posts on this thread - they are VERY late arrivals)
  5. Those of you who will have read about this on another thread may well say "oooooh, not again"..........sorry. Some while ago, two (now late) aunts told me (very confidentially) that a cousin of theirs WALTER SARGEANT had been a pipe organ builder Why wait all this time before telling me! However, the last time they had visited him, (early '50s) he was living in Orpington and had built a pipe organ into his home. I tried through Genes Reunited to find any further information but without success. By this time, no-one else in my family who would have known him was alive, and the rest of 'em had never heard of him. Two weeks ago, I tried Genes R. again, and this time he was listed. The owner of the family tree, also a "Sargeant"gave me permission to view the tree and there was Walter with his parents and brother, all named correctly. The tree owner has since been not forthcoming with any further information. After posting the story on ABRSM Forum and Yahoo Groups Cinema Organs, I have had much information, almost a flood, giving me evidence that a WALLY SARGEANT was indeed a pipe organ builder, worked for Compton in the '30s, is listed on the NPOR register, is named in Lawrence Elvin's "Pipe and Action". Two people including Barry Williams from this forum contacted me to tell me that they actually KNEW Wally, and gave me much interesting news about his personality and life. Many thanks indeed for those amazing revelations The thing is..........they knew him in during the 60's as an unmarried man and living in Clapham, but the Genes R. says he died in '50's and had been married. I'm just hoping to find that little snippet that links my [second]cousin with WALLY - organ builder proved. I'm told not to rely on the Genes R information, but I have been given names of ex-Compton people (but no contact info) that may help. Then, I suppose the next stop is the official "Hatched, Matched and Dispatched" records for Norwich (his place of birth) and South London (interesting that the "Sargeant" on whose tree he is listed, comes from Surbiton - also South London) Any advice, any suggestions as to what I can next apart from official records? It would be so good to prove that I am not the only organ enthusiast in my greater family, never mind being the only musician! Thanks for reading Stephen
  6. Hello Introducing myself to the forum, I'm Stephen Austin from Poulton-le-Fylde, near Blackpool (well, someone has to be), Lancashire. Since a very early age, the organ has fascinated me - my earliest, if hazy recollection is going to church, right across the road from our house in Yiewsley, and sitting in the front pew, in front of which sat "the organist" screened from view by a blue curtain hung on a brass rail. My parents did not quite how to handle this child's desire to play an organ, and imagine my disgust when for my tenth birthday, I was given a Magnus Reed Organ - 12 chords !!! It was NOT the Hammond Organ I had hoped for from the Ideal Home Exhibition, the one which Ena Baga allowed me to play. Piano lessons were a must, said the local organ teacher, so off I set on the road that would hopefully lead me to organ lessons, which they did eventually with Roy Wise of Ingatestone and later Shenfield achieving Grade 8 with Distinction at the age of 19, by which time I had left school with Music A level and not much else, and started immediately as assistant to the Musical Director of Hammond Organ UK - George Blackmore FRCO. As I started the Grade 8 syllabus, I also commenced theatre organ lessons with John Stewart, house organist at the Gaumont State Theatre, Kilburn. On being transferred (to my delight) to Boosey & Hawkes' Cavendish Organ Centre in Margaret Street, West End, I was appointed organ demonstrator and first "in-house" tutor for B & H's organ and piano customers, teaching among others a Saudi princess, Anne French journalist, the daughter of the Secretary to the US Ambassador and giving Roy Castle a few organ lessons - enough for him to be asked to launch a new range of Lowrey Organ (I think) SInce moving "oop North" in 1974 to run in partnership my own organ retail shop, time have changed, and the retail business has gone (our decision) and now teaching privately - full time, thankfully - piano, organs electronic and pipe, theory and (gulp!) home keyboards, including two full Adult Education classes per week. In 1992 I decided to become a pupil once again, and over the next few years, studied with a local organist and took Grade 4 - 8 all over again, gaining Merit at Grade 5 and Distinction in all the rest. Although I have various diplomas for piano, I would dearly love to study for similar in the organ - anyone out there willing to take on a "mid-50's" student in this area? As active on the theatre organ concert scene as time will allow - as well as playing in various churches combining the playing of their church organ and our electronic organ with whistles and bells! Secretary of the local organ society, good cook, model railway enthusiast, avid sheet music collector, gardening when I have to (leave that to partner) and currently trying to prove that a cousin (long departed) was an organ builder working for Compton in the '30's......more of that in another thread. That's me! Thanks for reading.
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