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David Drinkell

Kingsgate Davidson

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Just an idle query. Can anyone tell me about Kingsgate Davidson? I believe that the firm started out as the Kingsgate Musical Instrument Company, or some such. Did Davidson buy in, or take over? When did they cease trading, and did someone take them over?

 

They seem to have produced some imaginative schemes, including revamping Brompton Oratory for Ralph Downes. Their ex-residence organ, which ended up in Holy Trinity, Brompton, was more interesting than the ex-Audley Street Rushworth which replaced it. And I think I remember seeing a ad in a sixties copy of Musical Opinion for a very advanced neo-Classical specification - all in German.

 

Maybe the execution didn't come up to the ambitions, although the examples I've played have generally seemed well done.

 

Thanks in advance.

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Just an idle query. Can anyone tell me about Kingsgate Davidson? ....Maybe the execution didn't come up to the ambitions, although the examples I've played have generally seemed well done.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Reginald Davidson was a member of Elm Road Baptist Church, Beckenham (Norman & Beard, reb. KD& Co, 1966) AFAIK there was no Mr Kingsgate...he was a mythical character invented (so I was told) as a *colleague*, to be consulted on weighty issues when clients phoned with complaints ! All hearsay, I know...

 

I guess you could describe their rebuild work as utilitarian. It invariably worked and probably went on working long past its sell-by date. As to the actual history of the firm, I can't offer much else.

 

H

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Perhaps I can shed just a little bit of light about Kingsgate Davidson.

 

Their factory was in a disused chapel in Ivydale Road. London S.E.15 When they ceased trading in 1966 (I think) their tuning contracts were taken over by Rushworths, including two of Kingsgates tuners, myself, and Doug Littlewood.

They looked after many jobs in London and the home counties, and also had a regular quarterly tuning round in Wales.

 

As well as Mr Davidson Snr., there was also Douglas Davidson his son.

 

Ralph Arnold, one of the organ builders employed at Kingsgates, went out on his own when the firm ceased trading, and did some rather good work in Kent and surrounding areas untill about ten years ago.

 

Tom Robbins also from Kent, who used to work in the drawing office at H.Willis's, took over some of the tunings from Kingsgates when he started up on his own.

 

Sorry I can't give you any further information.

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Tom Robbins also from Kent, who used to work in the drawing office at H.Willis's...

Now there's a name to conjure with! Based at Willesborough Windmill, near Ashford.

He used to tune and maintain the organ which I played in Maidstone in the 1970s.

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Now there's a name to conjure with! Based at Willesborough Windmill, near Ashford.

He used to tune and maintain the organ which I played in Maidstone in the 1970s.

 

Tom died quite some time ago and the windmill was subjected to a compulsory purchase order by Ashford Borough Council. The windmill has been restored and is open to the public from time to time

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I can confirm that Ralph Arnold worked for the firm , he set himself up in business in Orpington months before Kingsgate Davidson ceased traiding and was able to pick up some work from the company . Ralph Arnold retired in 1993 , handing his tuning round over to Martin Cross and shortly afterwoods moved to a bungalow in Pevensey , sadly very soon after moving to Pevensey , his wife ( and chief assistant and keyholder) Joan died .

The Last job that Ralph did in his retirement was to build a direct electric chest and an economy console for my house organ .

Ralph died on the 22th May 2010 and I played the (nasty electronic) organ at his funeral service at Eastbourne crematorium on the 2nd of June 2010 .

as far as I know I was the only representative of the organ world at the funeral , I also have some pictures and documentation of his work .

His legacy lives on in a number of fairly modest , but reliable extention organs around s e London and kent mainly but not exclusively in Free churches .

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I can confirm that Ralph Arnold worked for the firm , he set himself up in business in Orpington months before Kingsgate Davidson ceased traiding and was able to pick up some work from the company . Ralph Arnold retired in 1993 , handing his tuning round over to Martin Cross and shortly afterwoods moved to a bungalow in Pevensey , sadly very soon after moving to Pevensey , his wife ( and chief assistant and keyholder) Joan died .

The Last job that Ralph did in his retirement was to build a direct electric chest and an economy console for my house organ .

Ralph died on the 22th May 2010 and I played the (nasty electronic) organ at his funeral service at Eastbourne crematorium on the 2nd of June 2010 .

as far as I know I was the only representative of the organ world at the funeral , I also have some pictures and documentation of his work .

His legacy lives on in a number of fairly modest , but reliable extention organs around s e London and kent mainly but not exclusively in Free churches .

 

Hi Peter

 

I suspect that the British Organ Archive might be interested in copies of the documentation - as would I.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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They did some work on Yardley Parish Church in Birmingham, it was a rebuild of an Aeolian, the work was done in 1955, all I can say a most peculiar organ. It has now been replaced.

 

Barrie

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"Musical Opinion" in March 1961 included the specification of an organ built by Kingsgate Davidson for the German Evangelical Church, Sydenham. It doesn't appear to be on NPOR, so here is the stop-list:

 

Hauptwerk: Prinzipal 8A, Rohrflote 8, Oktave 4, Nazat 1 1/3, Mixtur 12.15.22, Krummhorn 8B Pos/Haupt

Positif: Gedacktflote 8, Gemshorn 4, Blockflote 2 Solo Kornet 12.7, Scharf 26.29, Tremulant

Pedal: Sub Bass 16C, Prinzipal 8A, Flotenbass 8C, Flotenquint 5 1/3C, Flotenoktave 4C, Krummhorn 16B, Krummhorn 8B, Haupt/Ped, Pos/Ped

Compass: 61/30

 

 

This is remarkable for the date, predating such early neo-classical jobs as the Walcker at Coloma College (N08853) or anything along those lines by Degens & Rippin (but not the Brompton Oratory, or the Swedish and Danish Seamen's Missions). It would be interesting to know whether the voicing matched the stop-list, or whether it was just a slightly eccentric English organ with German names. And is it still in existence?

 

I find Kingsgate Davidson interesting because they sometimes produced some unusual schemes, and my experience is that their workmanship was of good quality.

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Do you mean This one

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N16264

 

I played it for a wedding a number of years ago , if I remember correctly it is on the west gallery with a positive behiend the console

 

If I remember correctly , it was a bit " screetchy" !

 

I shall be interested to hear any other comments

 

Tony - please e mail me

 

best wishes

 

Peter

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Do you mean This one

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N16264

 

I played it for a wedding a number of years ago , if I remember correctly it is on the west gallery with a positive behiend the console

 

If I remember correctly , it was a bit " screetchy" !

 

I shall be interested to hear any other comments

 

Tony - please e mail me

 

best wishes

 

Peter

 

Yes, that's the one! Musical Opinion said Sydenham, so I looked there on NPOR. I see the Shepherd brothers have replaced the Nazat 1 1/3 with a 2' - makes sense in the build-up.

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I played the organ at St Mary's University Twickenham this morning. It's quite patchy, but holding up remarkably well if it hasn't had much doing to it since 1964. It makes a decent sound, and the tromba unit was rather fine, with a nice edge to it. Someone told me they're running it down in hopes of getting rid of it, but the choir director was sitting next to a university trustee and put in a good word, so maybe there's hope.

IMG_1388.JPG.db27da60da0e907188cd3fd00458da9d.JPGIMG_1387.JPG.03110ff678062f6b0888c3cb0d584dce.JPGIMG_1386.JPG.40670e5a7c6455c471de9dab6c2030de.JPGIMG_1385.JPG.bb05279518225b6d5df050ba91826b57.JPGIMG_1384.JPG.740f44245d2489b0b26cc1766f4402ea.JPG

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Ralph Downes Baroque Tricks refers warmly to Reginald W Davidson “ my ever faithful friend” in connection with Oratory p58-64 assisting RD “to attain his  tonal ideals”.   Kingsgate Davidson took over the maintenance of the Oratory organ from 1944

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I played the instrument at St. Mary's, Strawberry Hill, for three years as a student from 1972-75. At the time it was suggested that it was the last Kingsgate Davidson built, and, as such, incorporated a lot of remaindered pipe-work from their work shops. I've never been able to verify this though!

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I remember it in Perth.  There were a lot more stops on it then, although all extended.  Not the greatest organ in the world, or even in Perth.....

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There was quite a nice rebuild in St Peter's, Rugby, now SS Peter and John, and completed with the Choir from the Holy Trinity F&A (https://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=F00073).   I was recently told that the PVC covered cable installed by KD connecting the console to the pipes is still in good working order, in contrast to the vulcanised cables used by Walker.  Apparently two local Walkers (St Matthew and the URC/Presbyterian, neither still extant) suffered badly because the vulcanised insulation broke down and let in the damp, causing short circuits.

 

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