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Early Binns Work


JohnR
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Does anyone on this forum know if James Binns made any instruments bearing his name before he started his own firm in 1880? I know he was an apprentice at Radcliffe & Sagar till 1873 and then worked for Isaac Abbott (pre Abbott & Smith) from 1873 until 1880.

 

The reason I ask is that the organ at Eriswell Parish Church in Suffolk (recently rebuilt and rebuilt several times before) has 'James J Binns Leeds May 73 (1873)' written in pencil in two places. One of these is on the inside of the original upper rear Swell box casing. His name is about 2 feet wide so he obviously wanted people to know about him! I don't know if Binns displayed his name like this when working for either of the above firms or if this organ was possibly an early attempt of his own (presumably using quite a few ready made parts although the pipes are marked with his writing). The date of May 1873 is interesting as it's the year he changed jobs, but I don't know exactly when in the year he moved (and don't seem to be able to find out). All the pipe names are also in his writing and one of these also bears his name. The orginal part of this organ does have a slightly primative nature such as a couple of suprising bottom octave omissions. The Swell and Pedal Bourdons use identical pipes and the reservoir is single rise.

 

It would be worth me looking at Radcliffe & Sagar and Isaac Abbott organs of the same period to look for any clues.

 

Thanks,

 

John R

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Does anyone on this forum know if James Binns made any instruments bearing his name before he started his own firm in 1880? I know he was an apprentice at Radcliffe & Sagar till 1873 and then worked for Isaac Abbott (pre Abbott & Smith) from 1873 until 1880.

 

The reason I ask is that the organ at Eriswell Parish Church in Suffolk (recently rebuilt and rebuilt several times before) has 'James J Binns Leeds May 73 (1873)' written in pencil in two places. One of these is on the inside of the original upper rear Swell box casing. His name is about 2 feet wide so he obviously wanted people to know about him! I don't know if Binns displayed his name like this when working for either of the above firms or if this organ was possibly an early attempt of his own (presumably using quite a few ready made parts although the pipes are marked with his writing). The date of May 1873 is interesting as it's the year he changed jobs, but I don't know exactly when in the year he moved (and don't seem to be able to find out). All the pipe names are also in his writing and one of these also bears his name. The orginal part of this organ does have a slightly primative nature such as a couple of suprising bottom octave omissions. The Swell and Pedal Bourdons use identical pipes and the reservoir is single rise.

 

It would be worth me looking at Radcliffe & Sagar and Isaac Abbott organs of the same period to look for any clues.

 

Thanks,

 

John R

 

 

Why not try David Wood from huddersfield - he has all the Binns archive. Isn't Eriswell near Elveden estate?

 

All best

 

J

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Why not try David Wood from huddersfield - he has all the Binns archive. Isn't Eriswell near Elveden estate?

 

All best

 

J

 

Hi

 

I would agree - David Wood came up with the information that helped me establish an organ in a nearby church is, at root, a very early Binns (somewhere before his Opus 49 - early jobs didn't carry numbers).

 

The Eriswell organ is tentatively attributed to Brindley & Foster on NPOR, but no reasons are given.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Why not try David Wood from huddersfield - he has all the Binns archive. Isn't Eriswell near Elveden estate?

 

All best

 

J

 

Thank you gentlemen for both your replies. I shall certainly contact David Wood about this. I don't have his contact details but presume I'll track them down via Google. Yes Jonathan, Eriswell is near Elveden. It's a small world - I'm one of the Elveden organists!

 

Your point about the organ near you is interesting Tony, I think I spotted it on the NPOR site. Do you know the year of that one or at least if it was pre 1880?

 

Tony, you mentioned a possible Brindley & Foster connection for Eriswell. This is certainly correct because we now know for certain that Brindley & Foster sold it to Sewerby Church near Bridlington around 1895. This is mentioned in an old edition of The Organ and also A R Knott's book about B & F. However these sources assumed it to be a new B & F organ in 1895. We now know it obviously wasn't new although perhaps B & F sold it as 'new'. The most puzzling this is that there used to be a NPOR mention of the organ being originally made for York Minster Choir School!

 

Best Regards,

 

John

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Thank you gentlemen for both your replies. I shall certainly contact David Wood about this. I don't have his contact details but presume I'll track them down via Google. Yes Jonathan, Eriswell is near Elveden. It's a small world - I'm one of the Elveden organists!

 

Your point about the organ near you is interesting Tony, I think I spotted it on the NPOR site. Do you know the year of that one or at least if it was pre 1880?

 

Tony, you mentioned a possible Brindley & Foster connection for Eriswell. This is certainly correct because we now know for certain that Brindley & Foster sold it to Sewerby Church near Bridlington around 1895. This is mentioned in an old edition of The Organ and also A R Knott's book about B & F. However these sources assumed it to be a new B & F organ in 1895. We now know it obviously wasn't new although perhaps B & F sold it as 'new'. The most puzzling this is that there used to be a NPOR mention of the organ being originally made for York Minster Choir School!

 

Best Regards,

 

John

 

Hi John

 

Could you e-mail the B&F info to NPOR please - it will help clarify the situation. I don't know where the ref. to York Choir School comes from - you could ask at the same time where that info came from - the origins of info for the surveys is traceable, but I can't do it from here, as I don't have access to the source material.

 

The local Binns that I mentioned is in Westgate Baptist Church, rebuilt as a 3 manual, but still very much in Binns style. It is dated c.1886 in Westgate's previous building - see NPOR E00580. It's currently not used - it probably hasn't been played since the last organist died about 4 years ago, and it was in a parlous state then. Last time I asked, no-one even knew where the key was!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi John

 

Could you e-mail the B&F info to NPOR please - it will help clarify the situation. I don't know where the ref. to York Choir School comes from - you could ask at the same time where that info came from - the origins of info for the surveys is traceable, but I can't do it from here, as I don't have access to the source material.

 

The local Binns that I mentioned is in Westgate Baptist Church, rebuilt as a 3 manual, but still very much in Binns style. It is dated c.1886 in Westgate's previous building - see NPOR E00580. It's currently not used - it probably hasn't been played since the last organist died about 4 years ago, and it was in a parlous state then. Last time I asked, no-one even knew where the key was!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

Thanks Tony. Updated info was sent to the NPOR by me some time back. They updated the survey and introduced one for Sewerby church. For some reason they left some things in that we now know to be incorrect. Also, they won't mention the earlier builder history under Eriswell because it's under Sewerby. I presume they use the same rules for other instruments that have had more than one home. It was apparantly BB Edmonds who mentioned it possibly being in York Minster Choir School. It would be interesting to see what his notes actually say.

 

The Westgate organ looks interesting although it's a shame it doesn't get played.

 

Regards,

 

John

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  • 4 weeks later...
Does anyone on this forum know if James Binns made any instruments bearing his name before he started his own firm in 1880? I know he was an apprentice at Radcliffe & Sagar till 1873 and then worked for Isaac Abbott (pre Abbott & Smith) from 1873 until 1880.

 

Dear John,

 

You might find it helpful to contact John Kitchen at the University of Edinburgh. John has a PhD student, Nicola Macrae, looking at the early career of Binns. Nicola gave an interesting paper on her work so far at the BIOS Organ Conference in Oxford in April.

 

Best wishes,

 

David Shuker

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Dear John,

 

You might find it helpful to contact John Kitchen at the University of Edinburgh. John has a PhD student, Nicola Macrae, looking at the early career of Binns. Nicola gave an interesting paper on her work so far at the BIOS Organ Conference in Oxford in April.

 

Best wishes,

 

David Shuker

 

Thank you David. I didn't know about Nicola and her work and paper so was very interested to hear about that. I'll contact John Kitchen as you suggest. Do you know which department he is in?

 

Regards,

 

John R

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