Jump to content
Mander Organs
MusingMuso

John Compton

Recommended Posts

4 hours ago, Barry Oakley said:

I'm wondering what software you are using, Colin?

I'm working with Open Office, which seems to do most things quite well. Somewhere, I have Microsoft Word on a disc, but I don't see a vast difference in user friendliness/hostility or outright war!

I'm getting to grips with creating an index, which is quite tricky if you've never used them before; which I haven't.  I'm getting there slowly, but I still haven't mastered it. There's plenty of information on-line, so I should be able to work it out, but it's a terribly boring job.

One thing I was going to ask Barry. Do you have the rights to the splendid photograph of the Hull Minster organ case?  If so, could I include it by permission?  On the subject of photographs, did you ever see the miraculous escape the Parish Church (Minster) had in WWII, during a Zepplin attack?

MM
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, MusoMusing said:

I'm working with Open Office, which seems to do most things quite well. Somewhere, I have Microsoft Word on a disc, but I don't see a vast difference in user friendliness/hostility or outright war!

I'm getting to grips with creating an index, which is quite tricky if you've never used them before; which I haven't.  I'm getting there slowly, but I still haven't mastered it. There's plenty of information on-line, so I should be able to work it out, but it's a terribly boring job.

One thing I was going to ask Barry. Do you have the rights to the splendid photograph of the Hull Minster organ case?  If so, could I include it by permission?  On the subject of photographs, did you ever see the miraculous escape the Parish Church (Minster) had in WWII, during a Zepplin attack?

MM
 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It’s likely you’ll find venturing into software specific for producing printed publications somewhat baffling. Microsoft, particularly Publisher, does not have a high reputation in the printing trade who tend to use costly and more complicated solutions from Adobe.

I set out life many, many, decades ago as a letterpress printer, now virtually unheard of. And so when I looked at finding software at an affordable price that would allow me to continue to use the many skills I had learned, I opted for a package known as PagePlus. Whilst the software has been discontinued in terms of continuous development, It is freely downloadable in its last version, PagePlus X9. Finished output can be converted to a PDF version which is acceptable to commercial printers. You might like to take a look.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's sometimes a remarkably small world. I played around with offset printing at work, when I was about 15, and those early skills of layout and presentation have proved useful.

I'm not sure which avenue to go down. The organ is quite photogenic, and full colour pictures are wonderful, but they also increase the expense of print. On the other hand, the digital book format has no colour barriers, so to speak. At A5 size (about the same page dimensions as Elvin's  "The Harrison Story") the main text with photographs runs to about 220 pages, on top of which will be a Forward, a Table of Contents, an alphabetical index and acknowledgements, which could end up being 230 + pages in total. The word count is currently 57,000 words, so it is reasonably substantial. The big nightmare in writing it, has not been just restricted to a lack of a readily available pool of information, but the sheer diversity of Compton's activities. Organs are in there somewhere, but the story also refers to Link trainer aircraft, making aircraft  during the war, several fires, making space-heaters, developing electronic organs, making juke boxes, theatre lighting consoles, gramophone speed controls etc etc. (I missed out the "Jimmy" Taylor design for a car automatic gearbox!)

MM

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 18/05/2019 at 18:51, MusoMusing said:

image.thumb.jpeg.ebb74f065d789f84e1d9fa3a8128e769.jpeg

I had seen this picture before but no date applied and so I wrongly assumed it may have been WWII. The site replacement is what was once referred to as the "Labour Exchange." Interesting to realise that Compton had not yet worked his magic on the Holy Trinity (now Hull Minster) organ at the time this picture was taken.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's amazing that both the City Hall and Trinity Church survived two world wars. It must have been bad during the WWII air-raids, judging by the "bomb-maps" which can be studied on-line.  I do know that Norman Strafford (the O & C at Trinity) complimented Compton's on the fact that the organ remained playable in spite of a terrible shaking during the air-raids.

MM

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, MusoMusing said:

It's amazing that both the City Hall and Trinity Church survived two world wars. It must have been bad during the WWII air-raids, judging by the "bomb-maps" which can be studied on-line.  I do know that Norman Strafford (the O & C at Trinity) complimented Compton's on the fact that the organ remained playable in spite of a terrible shaking during the air-raids.

MM

 

Of course in different ways both buildings suffered war damage, the City Hall more so than Holy Trinity. The City Hall suffered war roof damage that affected the organ and resulted in Compton’s work in 1950-1951. At Holy Trinity there was damage to the quire clerestory windows that allowed sparrows to roost in the building, mostly on the south organ case and where many perished at the bottom of Dulciana pipes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There’s a date on the photograph of the Zeppelin raid damage: “June 6 15”, which I took to mean 1915.  I’m not local, but I’m sure that date could be checked.  

The organ curator John Pemberton has photographs of the bomb damage to Hull City Hall in WW II which he showed at the IAO ‘Organfest’ a couple of years ago.  Last year he gave a most impressive illustrated talk about the organ to a visiting group of non-organists - it was quite the best of its kind that I have experienced.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks to Barry and Rowland for the additional information. I was aware of the minor damage to Trinity church, and of course, I have a photograph of the City Hall bomb damage. However, with a subject as big as Compton, and after almost 58,000 words, I think I've covered enough. Things have to be left out I'm afraid, but I'm sure that if I ploughed on for a further ten years, I might be able to cover a quarter of the subject!!!

I'm making progress with the indexing (etc) and proof-reading, as well as the final layout, but the book is essentially finished in all but detail.

I'd hazard a guess that as many as 300 people have contributed to the pool of knowledge, and without whom it would have been an impossible task. The starting point was always going to be Laurence Elvin's coverage, but without knowing it, he left a vast amount to be uncovered; not least of which were the cinema organs, hybrid organs, space-heaters, Electrones, Melotones, the folding caravan and the light consoles.I must have been down a thousand cul-de-sacs and then made incredible discoveries just rooting around in odd places.

The main thing is, the tome has been written in the nick of time, because so many people have passed away, having provided important details and having made my chosen task easier.  It is, after all, over 60 years since JC died in his early 80's, and the story began 143 years ago!  That's a very big chunk of history!

MM

PS:  There's a curious irony. I think  about 75% of the knowledge has been contributed by cinema organ buffs, who spend endless hours tinkering with rescued organs.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I know something of what you are experiencing.  I wrote a long diatribe about a far narrower subject, the development of Hope-Jones's electric actions in his early years before he left for the USA, and even that ran to some 37,000 words and 90-plus A4 pages, whereas you are covering the entire life of an organ builder.  My first thought was to publish it, but the sheer difficulties involved - trying to interest a publisher, tweaking the manuscript into the format they would have wanted, etc, etc - rather put me off after a few initial sorties.  So, as I already had a website, I merely stuck it onto that as a PDF file for all to see.  It didn't make me any money of course, not that I was looking to turn a profit, but it would have been nice to have recouped at least some of my expenses of the sort you will undoubtedly have incurred.  However it has now been so widely read, used and commented on that it has generated the consolation prize of giving me a lot of satisfaction at having done it.  I also feel pleased that I was able to present what I believe to be an objective view of H-J's achievements which overturned quite a lot of the rather shabby so-called 'scholarship' which had gone before.

So against this background I wish you well for these final stages of your endeavours, and hope they turn out as you would wish.

(Incidentally, the last major update of my article was back in 2010 and I have now amassed so much additional information that it all really needs to be integrated into a new edition.  So I suspect it won't be too long before I'll need to get immersed in going through the same processes all over again.  Just think, you'll no doubt reach the same point in years to come ... !)

PS.  Have you thought about registering with a university and getting a PhD out of it - seriously?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that when it comes to making money, it was always a dead duck. Instead, it's been a hobby which has absorbed an immense amount of time; possibly because there is more written about Hope-Jones than there has been about Compton and his work. Interestingly, however, if one strings together everything that John Compton wrote about his own work, that would create a quite substantial booklet; so a very good source of information about him, as well as his philosophical /musical starting point.

Nowadays, we can get things printed at very low cost, but with minimal returns. Having looked at the hard-print option, I just think it would be very expensive and rather pointless. The better way is to publish electronically these days; especially with something so specialised and, frankly, unfashionable.

I've never been one to rush after qualifications of any type; though I did manage a rather miserable degree in music at Hull Uni. It never held me back, either as a business consultant or as a musIcian, but I suppose I shall have to include Hull Uni, because there are only about three epicentres of Compton's work.....London, Southampton and Kingston-upon-Hull. (In any event, after 30 years, I discovered that I had inadvertently stolen a library book , so by now, I must owe them millions in fines! )

Thank you for the encouragement. I've more or less got the layout right, and the index went better than anticipated. One word of warning though.....never....and I mean NEVER....highlight the letters 'raf' when you mean RAF. The first attempt at an index yielded 324 entries under 'raf', which I've now cut back to 7 !!     😀

Now to work out how to format  things, as well as set things up for electronic publication.  The learning curve continues.........

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi

I do hope MM can get his book published - I much prefer real books to reading things off screen - however I do realise the problems.  A good few years ago, a friend of mine wrote a book on a rather obscure topic (The development of the rose engine - the machine used for decorative pattern engraving on watch cases & the like).  Although the books sold at a fair price (for the time) I guess it cost him.  (I got a free copy both as a friend & because I'd made a small contribution to the contents.)  At  least MM shouldn't have the disaster I had - I'd researched the history of the church I was minister at for an essay in an Open Theological College course, and thought I'd print a few copies, until I discovered from a local historian just in time that the one book I'd found about the history of the village was grossly inaccurate!  I still haven't got round to revising it.

However it's released, I look forward to reading MM's Compton book - and I really must re-visit Colin's website!

Every Blessing

Tony

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems to be possible these days to have single copies of your book printed in hardback or paperback form from your digital file at a surprisingly reasonable price. Many books ordered online these days are dealt with in this way in any case. There are companies on the internet that will do this for you.  Once your book is ready for publication, you could ask people who want a hard copy  to pay upfront for the book and postage and packing, then, when you have received payment, order the book and send it to them. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Zimbelstern said:

It seems to be possible these days to have single copies of your book printed in hardback or paperback form from your digital file at a surprisingly reasonable price. Many books ordered online these days are dealt with in this way in any case. There are companies on the internet that will do this for you.  Once your book is ready for publication, you could ask people who want a hard copy  to pay upfront for the book and postage and packing, then, when you have received payment, order the book and send it to them. 

Yes, I've come across this already, but I have yet to investigate it fully. I know how Tony feels about hard copy books, but that brings certain limitations re: photos/colour. However, the age of computerised printing really is a modern miracle. I recall wandering around the Polestar printing works in Sheffield (no longer there, like steel!) It was all shut down and silent, and then a courier arrived with a case. Not long after, the whole plant burst into life, and within maybe 2 hours, half a million copies of TV times were being loaded. The printing presses were Italian, I seem to recall, and cost many millions.

Long gone are the days of letter-press printing and offset machines, where they had to etch masters.

I'm sure I will discover all the pros and cons when I get around to it all.

Tony's point about inaccurate books is an occupational research hazard.....I've just corrected certain things in the Compton tome about Charles Brindley (Brindley & Foster Ltd) and his working relationship to Edmund Schulze, thanks to more recent and more accurate research. Apparently, Brindley never went to Germany, while Schulze never made a single metal pipe to call his own.....he didn't even have a metal shop). Myths and legends can take on a life of their own!  After Doncaster, Brindley's (under the title Violette) made all the metal pipes for Schulze, and Charles Brindley did some of the voicing. 

I'd love to know if Compton did any of the voicing for Pietermaritzburg Town Hall in S Africa, which co-incides with Compton's time with Brindley's. It was their magnum opus, and a wonderful sound.

We plough on!

MM

PS: One of the "tricks" some print on demand companies get up to, is charging as much for postage and packing as the cost of the books they print. Others require that you buy their software package etc. Then there are exclusive contracts, where the printer is exclusive to a particular book. That means that a writer cannot release his work elsewhere on a non-commissioned basis; at least without being heavily penalised. It's a bit of a swamp!
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 26/05/2019 at 07:30, Tony Newnham said:

 ... the one book I'd found about the history of the village was grossly inaccurate!

 

 

5 hours ago, MusoMusing said:

... Myths and legends can take on a life of their own! 
 

It's exactly the same with my Hope-Jones research, and in some cases worse.  For over a century some eminent people have apparently thought they can just write down their subjective opinions with no attempt at justification, along the lines of  "he built the worst organs ever made" , etc.  At the other pole are those whose fawning sycophancy verges on the revolting.  None of this sort of material is scholarly, regardless of who the authors might be.  In the end I decided to put a representative collection of their remarks into an Appendix in the article, mainly for entertainment value to compensate for the bulk of it which must be dry as dust for most readers!

The way I got round the myths and legends problem was to deliberately choose an issue (his electric actions) about which I was able to amass sufficient material at an objective, engineering level to counter statements of this sort.  In engineering, things will either work or they won't, and if you can find out enough about them you can determine which applies.  After some twenty years collecting what material I could lay my hands on, I had become impressed enough with what HJ had done to think about writing it down.  I was also immeasurably assisted by the work of a few, unsung, others who generously allowed me access to the fruits of their labours and permitted me to include it.  They are acknowledged in the article.

I note from one of his posts that one way MM has tried to separate fact from fiction relating to Compton is by correlating information from several sources.  Now that is a scholarly approach which historians worthy of the name are trained to adopt, and one which I wish had been more visible in the HJ case.

Sorry, I'm hijacking a Compton thread, but it has evoked these resonances with one of his predecessors whose work was to some extent taken forward by him.  At the engineering level their work is a bit like honeysuckle - closely intertwined.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please don't feel you're hi-jacking anything Colin. It's interesting to read how people research things and arrive at "facts"......as best we can.
Re: Hope-Jones, his tonal ambitions were a strange phase, but they concurred with the thoughts of many "great and good" musicians, and there's quite a bit about it in my tome, under the heading "Organists at War".  Being honest, the Hope-Jones concept could never have produced a conventional organ, and many of the tones stand-apart, but when it developed into the theatre organ, it made sense. That said, Ocean Grove is a fascinating instrument.

My impression is, that H-J was handicapped by the limitations of battery technology and the fact that the National Grid was far into the future, and lecky supplies were generated on an ad hoc basis.

Correlation has been the ongoing nightmare with the Compton tome, because not a lot was ever written down. It has meant that every single fact has had to be correlated by commentators, by personal recollection, by hard physical examples; sometimes from external sources, which in this case, has embraced mechanical, electrical, electronic, genealogical, historical records, patents, military history, war records, local history, musical journals and even the history of trainer aircraft for the RAF.  I'll be quite honest....if I had known the size of the task, I would never have started, but now that it is 99.5% finished, my hope is that it will stand, not just as an organ buffs delight, but a unique history which places everything Compton and his team did, into social, musical and technological context.     

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is wonderful news, when the destruction of the organ at Wolverhampton deprived us of one of the best Compton organs of all earlier this year.

St Bride's is a particularly fine example of a late Compton (post JC era) under the direction of James Taylor, who never really got to enjoy the organ for very long prior to his untimely death (Easter 1958) as Assistant Organist to Dr Gordon Reynolds.

To misquote John Compton, "A penny whistle would sound wonderful in an acoustic like that."

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

St. Bride's is on my bucket list - I've never heard it in the building, and I'm very fond of the little 3m Compton on the other side of the City at St. Olave, Hart Street.

I'm often struck by how many Comptons manage to keep going on their original electrics for so long (as do a lot of organs in North America where good electric action was evolved earlier). Makes you think when you see all these more modern tracker jobs needing attention, doesn't it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hull Minster's Compton transmission system has lasted 80 years although it is showing signs of failing and is to be replaced by modern, up-to-date technology.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Barry Oakley said:

Hull Minster's Compton transmission system has lasted 80 years although it is showing signs of failing and is to be replaced by modern, up-to-date technology.

Let us hope that, following the interregnum which begins on Trinity Sunday, the newly appointed Vicar of Hull Minster is as keen, and supportive, as the departing incumbent, to see the 'Grand Organ' fully functioning.

The organ is a magnificent beast and there is clearly a desire, by the present authorities, to return it to it's former glory.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I heard an interesting snippet about the J W Walker connection with Compton, which suggested that Mrs Pickering Walker  (presumably the wife of Mr Pickering Walker and Sister-in-Law to Reginald Walker) may have been connected with Smedley's Peas; one of the first really big frozen-food people.

I don't expect a response from anyone, but it's worth a mention, just in case someone knows something I don't.

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I may have just solved a mystery, thanks to the Essex Organ Museum web-site, which came up when I was investigating the firm of Schmoel & Mols.
Among the Essex files is a transcript of a talk given by Compton's right-hand man, James Isaac Taylor.

For years and years, no-one seems to have been able to prove whether or not Robert Hope-Jones actually met John Compton, and under what circumstances. I suspect that "Jimmy" Taylor's talk gets us very near to the truth, because in 1901, Taylor blew the organ by hand, when Robert Hope-Jones inspected the organ at Emmanuel Church, Nottingham, with a view to providing a quote for a new instrument.  Taylor would have been about 8 years of age at the time, which concurs with his own description of being "a small boy".

So finally, there is proof that Hope-Jones visited Nottingham in 1901, just as the partnership of Musson & Compton began to emerge. It fits in, because the usual line is that Compton declined the offer a management position from Hope-Jones, because "they" (presumably Musson & Compton) had signed a contract for a new organ......probably Ratford PC.

Even at this time, Compton was becoming known as a fine voicer, who followed the influence of Hope-Jones.

The interesting thing is, that Musson & Compton actually built the new organ for Emmanuel Church, Nottingham, which was completed in 1904, and I suspect that Jimmy Taylor's father may have been the church caretaker there. Taylor would then be about 12 years of age, and already bitten by the organ bug.

So there we have a fairly definite link between Compton and Hope-Jones, which was backed up by Jimmy Taylor's later talk, when he was the main influence at Compton's

MM.


 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are things which beggar belief, as the (almost) complete Compton tome reaches the end.
To-day, I learned that the  six-bedroom house occupied by Albert H Midgley (the Technical Director at Compton's) is now the Uxbridge Conservative Club.

Their web-site has the following history, but it is the last bit which really floored me:-

Fairfield is a beautiful Victorian House, built in 1862 by a well to do Draper, Mr. Thomas Henry Johnson. In 1953 the house, which boasted a magnificent Chamber Organ, was then sold to Osterley Lodge Limited, a property developer. In addition to building several houses in the extensive grounds, Osterley Lodge Limited sold “Fairfield” to the Uxbridge Conservative Club in February 1954 for £ 5,000.The new Club was officially opened on the 2nd April 1954 by Lord Vansittart of Denham Place. Presumably, due to moving, Club records are disappointingly few.

The President of the club is Mr Boris Johnson MP

I am flabbergast!

MM

 



 

Share this post


Link to post
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...