Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Kingsgate Davidson


Recommended Posts

I have come across some fairly ancient discussions about Kingsgate Davidson which obviously I had missed.

I was their last apprentice. I arrived in December 1965 and was their until the company closed in 1966, when I joined Hill Norman and Beard and became a voicing and tonal finishing apprentice under the tutorage of the brilliant voicer/tonal finisher Michael Buttolph - now aged 82!

There were only a handful of employees at the Numhead old chapel workshop. The following names were there during my time :-

Reginald 'Daddy' Davidson the MD

Doug Davidson (son) Director

George 'gee us anammer' the Foreman

'Nobby Clark - Voicer

Ralph Arnold - Organ Builder

Bob Hatto - Metal Hand

John Shepherd - Tuner

John's brother Bob - 19yo Apprentice Organ Builder

Doug Littlewood - Organ Builder

If anyone requires further information please let me know.











Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thee NPOR website appears not to contain any information about this outfit, nor seemingly is there anything of significance elsewhere. I have no idea of the company's pedigree, the only organ I ever heard attributed to KD was in Rotherham. Whether KD had built it from scratch or whether it was a rebuild by them I remain unsure. It was many years ago and my lasting impression remains unimpressed, particularly its tonal finishing.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

As you say Barry, information about KD is very hard to find. I think the firms main activities were rebuilds and overhauls. However, they did build some new organs. The earliest reference I can find is 1932 when they built a residence organ for Laurence Ide Esq, Chestnut Lodge, Cobham, Surrey. NPOR ref N13456. Which went to Holy Trinity, Brompton. NPOR ref N18003.

There is a Dutch site which lists some of the other instruments they were involved in, but I suspect these were mostly rebuilds Https//orgelsite.nl.

During my short time in the firm the flagship instrument was Holy Trinity, Brompton -  when Robert Munns was organist there. I recall there we constant problems with it, resulting in almost weekly call outs.

I remember years ago having a conversation with John Norman about Reginald Davidson. John said that he could never understand how such a lovely man could build such dreadful organs!




Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the 1980s I built a 3 manual console which used a pair of drawstop jambs which had been advertised as having been pulled from the HTB organ.  It is certain that they were those listed in NPOR ref N18033 since the stop names are identical.  However none of the couplers (apart from the Gt/Ped piston coupler) and the Positive division of 4 stops were included on the jambs, so perhaps these were on stop keys or tablets elsewhere on the HTB console at the time.  It is possible (likely?) that the jambs were from the 1944 Kingsgate Davidson console, which might have been modified in 1966 by an unknown hand before I got hold of them.  The jambs displayed excellent workmanship, with solid ivory stop heads and bushes, though I replaced these with new to suit the stop list that I wanted for the new instrument.  (In case you were wondering, I donated the old ivory ones to the organ builder who had kindly ordered the new ones for me from Kimber Allen, who would not deal outside the trade at that time).

As part of the deal I also had to take away a 3 manual keyset which was also said to have come from the same instrument, though I did not use it (apart from saving the contact blocks and thumb pistons) as it was quite a different animal in terms of build standard.  I can quite see why Terry was called out frequently to the organ if my experience with the keyboards was anything to go by - the keyframes were ridiculously flimsy, resulting in stuck keys occurring all the time plus other sundry faults, and in the end I just took them to landfill.

The console with its handsome (KD?) jambs can be seen at :


However the keyboards here are ex-Compton ones, not the awful ex-HTB ones.

But thanks for the memories and for filling in a few extra pieces of the jigsaw, Terry!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

A most interesting and enlightening contribution Colin.

It sounds most likely that the parts you describe came from the HTB instrument, but obviously, I can't be sure. I find it quite incredulous that the 1966 intervention is marked as unknown.

As I remember from over 50 years ago, the problems with the HTB instrument were action problems which Doug Littlewood was dispatched to sort out. As I remember the action kept sticking! There were also problems with cyphers.

As you also mention, Kimber Allen were very reluctant to supply parts to anyone other than those in the organ building trade.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


DBOB (via the NPOR website) DOES have an entry for the firm.  It reads:-

KINGSGATE DAVIDSON & CO LTD   (1267)  [DBOB-ref=1267]
Floruit: 1925D-1950+
Located: London
Trade: ob


Addresses used

Address   From To
  Phoenix Str [Hampden House], London NW 1925D 1929D
  Elsa Str [Durning Hall], Stepney, London E 1946D  
  Cranfield Rd [St.Peter's Hall] Brockley, London SE 1947D 1950+

Titles used by this firm

  Kingsgate Musical Instrument Co. Ltd. 1921-1924  
  Kingsgate, Davidson & Co. Ltd. 1925-1950+  

References for the information above

London Directories: Kelly 1925-44/46-50+
BOA corres Edmonds, B.B., 6.5.1998

Cross references

Rushworth & Dreaper - taken over by

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To continue - a DBOB search for Kingsgate failed, but Davidson is there and provided the link to the firm.  Not sure why Kingsgate didn't appear, but as always on NPOR, the secret is to use the minimum of search terms and find the info from the resulting list.

Every Blessing


Link to comment
Share on other sites

There’s an earlier thread about Kingsgate Davidson, started by the late David Drinkell, and going under exactly the same title!

I remember that we were told that the Kingsgate name was fictitious!  Mr Davidson was the proprietor which probably explains the NPOR builder listing.  Much of the information here was already provided, and I have some recollection of both Holy Trinity Brompton and the late Robert Munns being mentioned.  In the back of my mind there was also a question of spelling, and the firm was sometimes referred to (evidently incorrectly) as Kingsgate Davison.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you Roland. I managed to find in the previous correspondence where John Sheppard also gave some interesting information.

Mr. Kingsgate has never, as far as I am aware, ever been mentioned as an actual person! However, it is interesting that in the 1920's that name is associated with the Musical Instrument Company. All rather odd and a bit confusing to say the least!

You are quite correct about the confusion over spelling. I must confess I fell into that trap when writing up my published  finding of my survey report on the condition of the Lincoln organ and Hancock Chamber organ in the Royal Pavilion, Brighton!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wasn’t the story that when Mr Davidson had an ‘awkward’ telephone call he would say that he had to consult Mr Kingsgate!

Fictitious firms’ names are sometimes chosen for a reason.  I used to know a firm of solicitors who deliberately chose the first name ‘Abbott’ followed by the genuine name of the senior partner, with the result that they appeared listed as the very first name in the solicitors’ national directory, and under ‘Solicitors’ in telephone directories and ‘Yellow Pages’ etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...