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Percy Daniels


David Coram
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I keep hearing rumours about the new owners of PD/Cawston being on the verge of ditching the lot or splitting it up etc etc etc.  Anyone know the true story?

Well PD is in liquidation, so no one new owns PD otherwise they would own whatever debts made liquidation the sensible option. Cawston purchased the assets/goodwill (whatever that means) of PD so how can it be split up? I would be interested in hearing more on this from anyone in the know...

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
I know it was deliberately put into voluntary liquidation back in July to enable the new owners to take over, so the legal entity of Percy Daniel Limited ceased to exist but the trading name of Percy Daniel continues.

 

I heard today from a PD employee that he was made redundant yesterday.

Not the kindest timing! He is under the impression that the whole business has folded. No doubt Cawston Organs will look after the large tuning circuit that PDs had in its portfolio.

 

I have read unkind comments about this firm's work on this site, and I believe that they did very useful work in a pretty ethical and well-intentioned way. In the very nature of serving West Country and South Wales (many small organs, many cash-strapped churches) their interventions tended to be small and, yes, on occasion ill-advised. Mind you, these mistakes are quite often not down to the firm who actually carry out the work, you know!

 

A number of their organs are seriously under-rated. Two organs in particular I know to be much the better for their intervention: Brangwyn Hall, Swansea is one - it became virtually unplayable under the care of the previous firm and was rescued very convincingly almost overnight by PDs. The other one is Brecon Cathedral - a quart in a pint pot if ever there was one. All on a very tight budget in a very restricted chamber. I should make especial mention of the spectacular Solo Trumpet they added - possibly the best chamade in the UK.

 

I agree that PD upperwork is not always of the best, but you can level the same criticism at several firms - some large ones among them. I spent a lot of time with a thoroughly rebuilt instrument of theirs two years or so ago (Ledbury Parish Church). Prior to a recording, I was invited to list any notes or pipes that might benefit from tuning/voicing attention (a scheme of 35 stops or so). It was hard to find one uneven note. I explored a recent high-profile rebuild around the same time - Christchurch Priory, to save you guessing. The contrast between the finishing standard of the two instruments showed up the latter severely.

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That is very bad news. I was under the impression that Cawstons would be in the same boat - both firms were taken over by the same person. I heard a lot of the Daniels records were thrown out - nothing short of vandalism.

 

They were never a cheap firm by any means, and much of their voicing was an utter disaster (more especially in the 70's and 80's), but often their cabinet work was extremely good quality and they did the "face to the customer" part exceptionally well, down almost entirely I suspect to Chris Manners, who will be devastated when he hears of this development.

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  • 2 weeks later...
That is very bad news.  I was under the impression that Cawstons would be in the same boat - both firms were taken over by the same person.  I heard a lot of the Daniels records were thrown out - nothing short of vandalism.

I agree entirely. Percy Daniels had care of the organ in my local church (St. Mary Magdalene, Stoke Bishop, Bristol) which they had rebuilt in 1979. A very nice instrument which is still in existence.

 

.....and they did the "face to the customer" part exceptionally well, down almost entirely I suspect to Chris Manners, who will be devastated when he hears of this development.

I don't know if Chris Manners is still around. It is possible that he isn't because I did hear some time back that he was in ill health.

 

I well remember Chris Manners: as a lad of about 11 or 12 years old I had an interest in Organ Building and I did write and ask wether it would be possible for me to have a tour of their works in Beach Avenue because such was my interest in organ building at the time. I wrote the letter and sent it off. About a week later, back came a nice letter from Chris Manners himself saying that he would be happy to show me round. They were working on a organ for a church (I can't remember which one) in Surrey at the time.

 

That interest led onto other things: in 1994, the organ of the school I was in - Clifton College, Bristol - came up for restoration: a fine instrument largely from 1911. Harrison & Harrison were doing the works and so I wrote back wondering if I could help out for a couple of mornings in one week. That request was successful and I spent a happy couple of mornings lifting the PD Opheclide 16' and other pipes out of the organ under the supervision of Nigel & the team.

 

If he is still around, Chris Manners will be truly saddened by the liquidation of the company. If he has passed on - which, as I say, is possible - he will be turning in his grave.

 

But back to Percy Daniel & Co. Their purchase by Cawston Organs marks, almost certainly, the end of an era in West Country organ building. 70 years of organ building from Clevedon have gone at a stroke and are no more.

 

Before his death in 1955 Mr. Daniel formed a Limited Company, with long-serving members of his staff as Directors, to ensure the continuity of the firm. These original Directors have been succeeded over the years by the present Directors, who between them have been with the Company for over seventy years.

 

The liquidation of PD&co. somewhat desecrates the hopes of Mr. Daniel and his memory, IMO. :P

 

What a waste. I can't think of another way to put it and will finish by saying: Dercy Daniel & Co. RIP. +

 

Dave

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I heard today from a PD employee that he was made redundant yesterday.

Not the kindest timing! ..........

Not the kindest timing at all, as you say.

 

This announcement has turned up on Percy Daniel's website:

 

Percy Daniel & Co. Ltd. was purchased by Cawston Organs Ltd. in August, 2005, with Anthony Sack as sole director, and the existing staff retained. Subsequently, on 16th December, 2005, the Company went into adminstration. Any enquiries should be addressed to the Administrator, (.....)

 

Dave

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Percy Daniel & Co. Ltd. was purchased by Cawston Organs Ltd. in August, 2005, with Anthony Sack as sole director, and the existing staff retained. Subsequently, on 16th December, 2005, the Company went into adminstration. Any enquiries should be addressed to the Administrator, (.....)

Technically administration is not liquidation. Administration implies that the company is in the hands of a receiver, but still remains (for the time being) a legal entity. It's a technique for allowing a company's financial affairs to be sorted. Many companies that go into administration do survive, e.g. when the administrator manages to find a buyer who is prepared to take over the debts. Whether that is a realistic expectation for an organ building firm, however, is another matter and the fact that the staff have been laid off (or at least one of them has) doesn't bode well. There may not be much hope, but I wouldn't start playing the Dead March in Saul just yet.

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That interest led onto other things: in 1994, the organ of the school I was in - Clifton College, Bristol - came up for restoration: a fine instrument largely from 1911. Harrison & Harrison were doing the works and so I wrote back wondering if I could help out for a couple of mornings in one week. That request was successful and I spent a happy couple of mornings lifting the PD Opheclide 16' and other pipes out of the organ under the supervision of Nigel & the team.

Lucky you! I learnt to play the organ on this fine instrument between 1983-87 but never got to have a look inside. I understand that Priory will be issuing a CD of Adrian Partington playing this organ in 2006 - Volume 3 of the Complete Organ Works of Basil Harwood. Volumes 1 and 2 were made at Bristol Cathedral and Birmingham Oratory.

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  • 2 weeks later...
To those of you wondering about my father's health, I can assure you he is alive and VERY well, and as upset about the untimely demise of Percy Daniel as the rest of us.  No turning in his grave required!!

Hi John.

 

That is extremely good to know. Thanks for passing the info on. He gave me a tour of those Clevedon works when I was a young lad (about 8 or 9 y.o?) and let me have a pipe for a souvenir. I still have that pipe and it still plays.

 

Regards to Chris,

 

Dave

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

The following press release should make the present (rather strange) situation a little clearer:

 

PRESS STATEMENT RE: CAWSTON WITH DANIEL LTD.

ORGAN BUILDERS

 

As many of you are aware, Cawston Organs Ltd. recently merged with Percy Daniel & Co Ltd. After a mere 4½ months at the helm, Managing Director Anthony Sack decided to put the Company into administration and consequently all staff were made redundant.

Anthony Hall (freelance Designer) and Warren Marsh (freelance Voicer) have decided to form a consortium with redundant administrative and workshop staff, forming a new Company, trading under the name of Clevedon Organbuilders Ltd. Both Anthony and Warren worked extensively as sub-contactors for the old firm. Additionally, Suzanne Antoine, previous administrator, also has joined the Board of Directors, and will provide a familiar voice, answering the telephone to all enquiries. The new Company would like to thank Chris Manners for his encouragement and support, and looks forward to prising him from retirement on occasion to help when he is able.

The aim of the new Company is to provide an efficient and reliable service in the area, ensuring that the combined experience (160 years) of seasoned organ building craftsmen is not wasted. Anthony and Warren also hope to inject new ideas and practices gleaned from many years of experience working with several leading companies in the UK and abroad. They are also implementing new management techniques to assist with the administration of tunings and are recruiting additional tuning staff to cover a diverse area.

The new Company welcomes any enquiries and invites those who are interested to call their office on 01934 832905. It should be mentioned that the new Company has very close links with Tony Cawston, who has continued to trade on his own account. It is refreshing to see a spirit of co-operation in British organ building, which is vital to the ongoing survival of the craft.

 

Directors: S E Antoine, A L Hall, W M Marsh

 

 

 

 

The above text was obtained from Chris Manners yesterday in reply to my enquiry.

Paul D.

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  • 3 weeks later...
The following press release should make the present (rather strange) situation a little clearer:

 

PRESS STATEMENT RE: CAWSTON WITH DANIEL LTD.

ORGAN BUILDERS

 

As many of you are aware, Cawston Organs Ltd. recently merged with Percy Daniel & Co Ltd.  After a mere 4½ months at the helm, Managing Director Anthony Sack decided to put the Company into administration and consequently all staff were made redundant.

Anthony Hall (freelance Designer) and Warren Marsh (freelance Voicer) have decided to form a consortium with redundant administrative and workshop staff, forming a new Company, trading under the name of Clevedon Organbuilders Ltd.  Both Anthony and Warren worked extensively as sub-contactors for the old firm.  Additionally, Suzanne Antoine, previous administrator, also has joined the Board of Directors, and will provide a familiar voice, answering the telephone to all enquiries.  The new Company would like to thank Chris Manners for his encouragement and support, and looks forward to prising him from retirement on occasion to help when he is able.

The aim of the new Company is to provide an efficient and reliable service in the area, ensuring that the combined experience (160 years) of seasoned organ building craftsmen is not wasted.  Anthony and Warren also hope to inject new ideas and practices gleaned from many years of experience working with several leading companies in the UK and abroad.  They are also implementing new management techniques to assist with the administration of tunings and are recruiting additional tuning staff to cover a diverse area.

The new Company welcomes any enquiries and invites those who are interested to call their office on 01934 832905.  It should be mentioned that the new Company has very close links with Tony Cawston, who has continued to trade on his own account.  It is refreshing to see a spirit of co-operation in British organ building, which is vital to the ongoing survival of the craft.

 

Directors: S E Antoine, A L Hall, W M Marsh

The above text was obtained from Chris Manners yesterday in reply to my enquiry.

Paul D.

Ah! Excellent work there, Paul. Great to see something comming from it.

 

It adds to confusion, however, that the following entry appears under "Organ Builders" on a website called YELL.COM:

 

------

Cawston & Daniel Organ Builders Ltd

Beach Avenue, Clevedon, Avon BS21 7XX

Tel: 01275 873273

------

 

Dave

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Ah! Excellent work there, Paul. Great to see something comming from it.

 

It adds to confusion, however, that the following entry appears under "Organ Builders" on a website called YELL.COM:

 

------

Cawston & Daniel Organ Builders Ltd

Beach Avenue, Clevedon, Avon BS21 7XX

Tel: 01275 873273

------

 

Dave

 

 

I have heard rumours that the factory has now been sold.

Asset-stripping?

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I have heard rumours that the factory has now been sold.

Asset-stripping?

 

Yell.com doesn't update very often - usually only happens in practice when the book is updated each year.

 

Wouldn't appear to be much point in having a workshop if you're basically trying to profitably operate a tuning round and do the odd cleaning, which I would imagine is where they've set their sights for the moment. If it's mostly subcontractors then many of them will probably have enough facilities of their own to do small repairs.

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