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Organ Builder Relative

Stephen Austin

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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 :huh: 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


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  • 1 month later...

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


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