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Bishop & Co. - Organ Builders


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Apparently I have been quoted elsewhere as saying on this topic that Bishop's are no longer in business. You will note above that I have said absolutely nothing of the kind; I merely stated that Maurice Merrell is alive and well.

 

Malcolm

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Apparently I have been quoted elsewhere as saying on this topic that Bishop's are no longer in business. You will note above that I have said absolutely nothing of the kind; I merely stated that Maurice Merrell is alive and well.

 

Malcolm

Just looked them up in BT's online phonebook and they are still there:

 

Bishop & Son Organ Bldrs

Tel: (020) 8969 4328

58 Beethoven St, London, W10 4LG

 

A Yahoo! search for them does not turn up a website, which is strange IMO in this day & age.

 

Dave

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Just looked them up in BT's online phonebook and they are still there:

 

Bishop & Son Organ Bldrs

Tel: (020) 8969 4328

58 Beethoven St, London, W10 4LG

 

A Yahoo! search for them does not turn up a website, which is strange IMO in this day & age.

 

Dave

 

 

I was expecting someone to pipe up with details of Bishop's Ipswich branch but nobody has. This is/was run by John Bailey at 38 Bolton Lane, Ipswich. I just tried to visit their website without luck which is a bad sign. The IBO's website is not helpful either, and representing the same geographical area they still proudly proclaim J.W.Walker of blessed memory. The Ipswich faction used to do excellent work - one of the many incarnations of the world's most rebuilt organ (Sherborne Abbey) was theirs as (I think) was the organ at Lancaster University. Before John Bailey (who is a former Grant Degens and Bradbeer man) the branch was run by John Budgen.

 

Both Bishops' branches were under common ownership, a Miss Suggate if I remember correctly. The London end carries/ed out restorations mostly, amongst which their work at St.James Spanish Place (a monster Hunter) impressed me greatly.

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They were when I last had anything to do with them, which was a couple of years ago.

Bishop & Son. 58, Beethoven St, London, W10 4LG Tel: 020 8969 4328

Maurice Merrell was/is MD.

 

Hi

 

The Ipswich branch was still operating at that time as well.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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The IBO's website is not helpful either, and representing the same geographical area they still proudly proclaim J.W.Walker of blessed memory.

 

The blessed memory is still alive - Sebastian Meakin does the restoration/rebuild work out of Devizes, and the Brandon team is engaged on a couple of new projects for the USA, I'm told. Certainly I know they're currently tendering for restoration work in this diocese.

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I think that might just be the point.... :unsure:

 

A one- or two- man band can keep going quite healthily on a decent established tuning round, a bit of subbing and the odd clean and overhaul. There are plenty of firms in fine fettle doing just that without websites or adverts in journals. John Budgen himself, for instance - Lance Foy - the list is endless. I shouldn't panic. I think Bailey is still looking after New College which of course he worked on. So there's one customer for starters.

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Mr Merrell was in the audience at Olivier Latry's excellent recital at St Paul's last night, and he seemed very well.

For me, it was worth the long journey to London to be there, and the Organ sounded magnificent.

 

Anne Mattick

Welcome to the forum, Anne.

 

Dave

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And they are looking after and restoring in stages, the 3 manual Binns (within a Father Smith Case) in St. Mary's Parish Church Hadleigh in Suffolk (my sister's church).

I hope they are to remove the neo-baroque additions they made to the Choir in the seventies.

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As a past employee of Bishop and Son for about 16 years I can tell you all they are very much in business as of yesterday (10 Nov). At the present they have tuning contracts with about 350 churches in East Anglia and the Midlands and a similar number in London and the Home Counties. The London workshop (58 Beethoven St. Queens Park) is currently working on a restoration of the organ in Radley Parish Church, Oxfordshire. Ipswich workshops, 38 Bolton Lane Ipswich) completed the 'job' at New Hall School Chelmsford, and are now moving on, I believe, to rebuild the 3 Manual in All Saints Maldon, Essex which I worked on at the last rebuild in 1967/8.

 

Maurice Merrell is certainly the MD and a truly wonderful organist and organ builder of great distinction. Recently he suffered some heart problems but now firmly back in harness he posseses a wealth of knowledge on the London organ world in general and the history of Bishops in particular. Both London and Ipswich carry all the records of the company since they were established in the days of JC Bishop, through Bishop and Starr, the + Richardson years onto Bishop & Son and then the Herbert Suggate period to the present day; it is a truly fascinating history. Certainly Laurence Elvin had a mountain of information on which to base his book about the company.

 

At Ipswich John Bailey (ex Cedric Arnold and GD&<_< is the workshop manager very ably assisted by Simon Pulham a Bishop man for over 30 years. I served my apprenticeship from 1964 -72 (John Budgen's time at Ipswich) returning to the 'fold' in 2000 for 4 more years before moving to the USA where I worked for David Wallace Organ Builder here in Maine.

 

The company continues to be a busy one and much to it's credit has survived as a continuous operating company since 1795 or there abouts. Even during the war years when the workshops closed down, the tuners in London and Ipswich kept many of the organs in working order even if the windows behind them had been blown out by bombs! Bishop's are one of the true English organ builders of the past and present. They may not be the 'flavour of the times' but many many organs in the UK would be lost to us if it were not for their expertise and commitment.

 

I must add that I read this site every couple of weeks or so and find it is a truly wonderful way to keep up with everything organs in the UK thanks to John Mander for his support of this service and to you all for providing such well written and informative comments.

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Maurice Merrell was extremely helpful three years ago when we were faced with our fine three manual Bishop of 1877 having enforeced redundancy as a result of the church roof getting blown off during a tornado. Whilst the firm was unable to rehouse the organ (which was bought by Feenstra of Holland awaiting a new home), he sent me various details taken from the company archives from 1877 about the original installation.

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