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The work of the firm of W. Johnson & Walter James Bird (& sons)


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A friend of mine is the Parish Priest of a rather beautiful church in the ‘Black Country’ with a rather ugly three manual organ in the West Gallery that has clearly been an instrument that has had substantial additions made to it that are, visually at least, certainly not in keeping with the rest of the instrument.


The original builder is given as W. Johnson with James Bird and Son having done further work to the instrument.


Walter James Bird, according to the NPOR, operated around Birmingham, I think in the Selly Park area, between 1888 and the 1930’s. I know he rebuilt the organ at Coleshill in Warwickshire in 1913 and is, seemingly, the original builder of an instrument in St. Mary’s Selly Oak – the plate on the organ there gives “Bird, Selly Park”. Roy Massey suggests that Walter James Bird may be responsible for the choir organ addition at St. Alban's Conybere Street, in Birmingham


I would be interested if any member can shed any light on the work of these particular organ builders.

  • Are Walter James Bird, “Bird, Selly Park” and James Bird & Sons one and the same?
  • How many more instruments exist from the forty-odd years of the firm’s existence
  • Does any member know the work of W Johnson?

Many thanks

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The DBOB entry for the Bird firm answers one of your questions - the firm used a few trading names over the years, and operated from a number of different addresses - it's all in the directory entry!


W. Johnson is more problematic - there are 5 listed in DBOB, but since one emigrated and the others are a fair way from Birmingham, it's a fairly safe bet which one you need info on. The entry doesn't say much, but it might be a starting point for further research.


Every Blessing


Ton y

DBOB entry for Bird below

BIRD Walter James (FIRM)

Established: 1888

Floruit: 1888-1950+

Located: Birmingham

Trade: ob



Addresses used by this firm Address From To 130 Cregoe Str, Birmingham [back of] 1895D 1896D 27 St.Luke's Rd, Birmingham 1897D 1898D 81 Latimer Rd, Birmingham 1899D 1922D 12 Oakfield Rd, Selly Park, Birmingham 1923D 1945D 50 Clarence Rd, Birmingham 1947D 1950+ Strad Organ Works, Birmingham

Titles used by this firm Walter James Bird 1895D-1914 Walter James Bird & Son 1915D-195x Walter James Bird & Sons Ltd 1934 Walter James Bird & Son (L.R.Fleming mgr prop) Walter James Bird & Son (S.E.Lambert & Co Ltd) 1950

References for the information above

Trade Directories: Kelly Birmingham 1895-1900/02-09/11-19/21-45/47-50

Musical Opinion 1933 /12: formation of private limited company


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Thank you for that - all answers solved - why didn't I search the NPOR more carefully and realise there was a DBOB?


............... and W. Johnson is there!!!



Floruit: 1861-1900D

Located: Moxley, Wednesbury

Trade: ob

worked at Bilston Congregational Church


Many thanks

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