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Hope-Jones is becoming very popular


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From time to time I dabble among the statistics which show how my website is being used, and recently have become simultaneously gratified yet perplexed at how popular the articles to do with our erstwhile friend Robert Hope-Jones seem to be getting.  The gratification reflects relief that at least some subjects evoke interest, whereas the perplexity stems from asking - why?

I suspect the answer is that a series of books whose central character is a small girl called Hope Jones seems to be creeping ever higher up the global popularity stakes.  Although I haven't yet read a complete volume, and currently have no intention of doing so, it seems that she might be an (insufferably priggish?) individual who has grandiose plans to 'Save the World', judging from a current title.  I trust that those fond parents who are presumably searching for these items are not too fazed when they land on my articles with titles such as 'Hope-Jones and the Dry Cell'.  Maybe it's only a matter of time before I get involved in copyright lawsuits in which I'll have to struggle to prove that my articles appeared first?

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I'm quite fascinated by Hope-Jones. I played Ambleside once (yes, I know, rebuilt and rebuilt - does it still have it's concrete swell-box?) There is a line of thought that, perpetuated by some English writers (There is a line somewhere 'Somehow he managed to sell one to Worcester Cathedral') that he was an awful builder, a telephone engineer turned organ builder. And, of course, his rivals, at the time perpetuated such myths and his work was sabotaged in Hendon, Ormskirk and Burton-on-Trent. I'm sure his instruments were fairly unmusical with a preponderance of 8' stops and little upper work but he was, clearly, an inventor and a thinker and, I suspect, history views him slightly differently now to, perhaps, 40/50 years ago. 

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Talking of getting a bad press...

Diapason Phonon. A very powerful diapason .... The stop is associated with the name of Hope-Jones. It is difficult to think that it has any artistic value.
Diaphone. A valvular reed ... developed by Hope-Jones, and of more use as a foghorn, for which it is valuable, than as a voice in the organ.

The Organ - WL Sumner p.307

I think you are right that he was probably a talented inventor but perhaps some of his technolgy was a little ahead of its time.

 

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2 hours ago, Steve Goodwin said:

Talking of getting a bad press...

Diapason Phonon. A very powerful diapason .... The stop is associated with the name of Hope-Jones. It is difficult to think that it has any artistic value.
Diaphone. A valvular reed ... developed by Hope-Jones, and of more use as a foghorn, for which it is valuable, than as a voice in the organ.

The Organ - WL Sumner p.307

It might, very well, have been Sumner where I read  'Somehow he managed to sell one to Worcester Cathedral'

Clearly not a fan!

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In the 1950's, as a schoolboy, I on occasion visited the Catholic church in West Croydon. This had a 2-manual Hope-Jones organ which was in pretty much original condition. The organist of the church was an elderly priest of some ability. He was not a model organist in that he would appear at the console after Mass had begun and the introit was being sung unaccompanied. He stabbed at a couple of likely notes to establish the pitch and he would then accompany the service. At the conclusion of Mass,he would produce a tattered copy of some organ work and give a good performance. I can remember hearing Guilmant's Cantilene Pastorale  and, on another occasion, Bach's Fantasia and Fugue in G minor. My knowledge of different organ sounds was very restricted at the time so I did not notice the absence of chorus- work in the Bach. (It didn't matter in the Guilmant!) Father Harold Knight was a good player and I wonder if any octogenarian members of the forum ever came across him? The organ is no more, having been replaced by an Allen. Sic transit gloria mundi; along with concrete swell boxes and leathered diapasons!

 

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Robert Hope-Jones featured briefly in another recent book, Colin; "The Foghorn's Lament" by Jennifer Lucy Allen is a history of foghorns and coastal people. I'm only part-way into it but it's fascinating and mentions RH-J in passing.  Maybe that's where a few of your views came from?

I do regularly dip into your website, the recent Wesley article was really interesting!

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12 hours ago, Paul_H said:

Robert Hope-Jones featured briefly in another recent book, Colin; "The Foghorn's Lament" by Jennifer Lucy Allen is a history of foghorns and coastal people. I'm only part-way into it but it's fascinating and mentions RH-J in passing.  Maybe that's where a few of your views came from?

I do regularly dip into your website, the recent Wesley article was really interesting!

I haven't seen Jennifer's book Paul, but was aware she was writing it.  I have a recollection that she might have contacted me about H-J a good while ago, so thank you for bringing me up to date on this.  Another interesting contact, again a long while back though, was from someone who was researching the psychology of loud noises and the technology needed to produce them, and I think he also has now written a book.  He also was interested in organs (and probably foghorns!) in this context.  I recall mentioning one of my pet theories - that organisations such as the church, part of whose raison d'etre was  a political one to dominate and subdue an unruly peasant population by imposing its views on it, built large buildings which visually dominated the landscape (not unlike castles) and they also put large noise-making machines inside them to complete the job acoustically (aka organs).  He thought this was quite an interesting slant on the subject.

Thank you for the kind remark about the Wesley article.  You might have seen the recent thread here on the same subject which was very helpful when I was writing it, and which I referred to.

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