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22 hours ago, MusingMuso said:

However, I think it was probably the "Augmentum" organ that went down that path, though I may be wrong. 

Possibly Colin, it's quite a while since I read the article.  It shows Compton moving with the times - but arguably they went too far in concentrating on electronic organs when they did.

Every Blessing

Tony

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2 hours ago, Tony Newnham said:

 ... it shows Compton moving with the times - but arguably they went too far in concentrating on electronic organs when they did.

Every Blessing

Tony

I've pondered for many years about Compton's demise, and Tony might well be right.  When the Electrone first appeared it offered the church organist an identical physical playing experience to the pipe organ, rather than requiring them to adapt to the new console arrangements of the contemporary Hammond.  Yet both were not dissimilar in the range of sounds they could produce in that they both used additive synthesis using only a small number of harmonics, a disadvantage forced on them because of the technology limitations of the day.  Hence the Electrone became more popular in the UK for the 'classical' organ market because an organist could get onto the bench and play it straight away rather than having to mess around with unfamiliar things like the Hammond drawbars.  But as time moved on I don't think Compton's saw the potential for the fully electronic (rather than electromechanical) analogue organ which was being rapidly developed in other countries, especially the USA.  Thus some of the early, larger, custom analogue Allen organs (which used many valves performing subtractive rather than additive synthesis) were producing very fine sounds by the 1950s and 60s, far better than those of the Electrone which in my opinion sounded cloying and muddy in comparison, and they too had the advantage of standard console arrangements as did the Electrone.  As time moved on further Compton's were therefore getting left behind in terms of tonal quality, as well as not being able to capitalise on the increasing cheapness of electronics compared with their increasingly old fashioned expensively-engineered rotating disc generators and their horrendously elaborate hand-wired signal mixing (voicing) methods.

All this might have been because they did not seem to bring in enough of the right sort of expertise for some reason.  When Leslie Bourn retired (one of the prime movers behind the Electrone system) he still had no familiarity with transistors, which virtually every other electronic organ manufacturer world wide was by then using by the shed load.  I can say this with certainty and without wishing to denigrate his capabilities because he himself wrote in a magazine article that "it was about time I started to find out about these little transistor thingies".  So by the second half of the 20th century Compton's were falling behind technically, and thus in tonal realism, even while their organs remained comparatively expensive.  So presumably people stopped buying them, thereby contributing to the failure of the firm.  At the same time the cash cow of the cinema pipe organ market had long collapsed.  In the late 1960s I visited their factory and played a 4 manual Electrone, which was by then the sole occupant of that vast floor space which once was a thriving hub of activity.  It was an extremely sad experience.  And I'm afraid I wasn't even particularly enamoured with its sound, although the console of course remained sumptuous and splendid (and expensive).  It seemed to me to be an epitome of the lose-lose-lose situation (expensive electronic organs/old fashioned technology/shrinking pipe organ business) which led to their downfall, which in my humble opinion was the outcome of poor business decisions over an extended period as much as anything else.  They seemed to just carry on doing what they had always done in the electronic organ game for far too long, without looking out of the window to see where everybody else was going.  Quite why this was allowed to happen still mystifies me though.  However it's easy to be wise with hindsight.

Although the above relates mainly to electronic organs I hope it will be acceptable on this forum in that it also relates to the history of a celebrated pipe organ builder.

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1 hour ago, Colin Pykett said:

They seemed to just carry on doing what they had always done [in the electronic organ game] for far too long, without looking out of the window to see where everybody else was going.  Quite why this was allowed to happen still mystifies me though.

If you remove the words I've put in brackets then this is a very common cause of business failure or winding up, and has been particularly common in UK manufacturing companies, such that they are an ever diminishing number. A company with a product that used to be popular and sell well which becomes less desirable due to fashion, price or competition will too frequently not spot the need to change their course until too late. In my 30 year career in business finance and business systems it is something I've seen time again, but those in a position to make change are too busy in the day to day to spot it, or are too emotionally involved to make the bold decisions necessary and at the right time to remain vital.

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There's no real mystery to the demise of the Compton firm. Jimmy Taylor died, and he had more or less run the company until 1957 or 1958 (I forget which without checking).
The very profitable cinema organ market was dead in the water by that time, and they never really adapted until it was too late and other companies (J W Walker, H,N & B were embracing the new classical style).
I suspect that when J I Taylor died, the financial director Eric Broad (as well as other directors) obviously saw the electronic market as the more profitable option. The appointment of Arthur Lord (an ABC cinemas staff organist) to the position of General Manager, was obviously confirmation of that course. Let's not forget, both Albert Midgley and the Walker brothers had ceased to be directors by (I seem to recall) 1939 and doubtless cashed in their shares when the cinema organ market collapsed with the onset of wartime.
Let's not forget that the pipe-organ side of the company was taken over by Rushworth & Dreaper in 1964, and it had been run down for quite some time before. I'm quite sure that the "top brass" wanted rid of it in 1957.
Unfortunately, there was little development with the electronics, and when the mass market for such things emerged, Compton's just couldn't compete with foreign and UK competitors.

Still, it wasn't all bad news, because it was ex-Compton men who started out on their own, to form Deegens & Rippen (later Grant, Deegen & Rippen) and we know how serious they were about the neo-classical style.

I think we just have to accept that the company was on the skids from around 1960 or thereabouts....under funded, a high cost factory, a diminshed market and workmen who just started to drift off elsewhere. Not even a stand at the Ideal Homes Exhibition, the Strand Lighting consoles, a space heater and a folding caravan could save the day, and let's niot mention the fraudulent lottery they ran, where the winner was announced even before the draw was made.

MM




 

 

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MM, can you assist please? I would like a copy of your Compton book CD. I have logged onto ebay but am unclear how to get a firm order in without entering into a bidding race. 

Much thanks

A

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5 hours ago, AJJ said:

MM, can you assist please? I would like a copy of your Compton book CD. I have logged onto ebay but am unclear how to get a firm order in without entering into a bidding race. 

Much thanks

A

Someone really messed it up, by bidding higher than the Buy it now price, which means that it has to run as an auction for the next 5 days.

However, not to be outsmarted, I've listed it again slightly differently (which circumnavigates the rules of e-bay :)  ).

Just search for COMPTON ORGANS.

However, there is a further problem, in that a whole paragraph is missing on p126 (I wonder if anyone has noticed?)  What I'm doing is burning  a new CD and sending that out, and hopefully, I can send out replacements for those who have already got the disc. (Quite an expensive file error!)

If anyone who has bought a disc would like to save me money, they could contact me via e-mail, and I can send the corrected file back via e-mail.

I'm on camitch49@yahoo.com

MM

 

PS: There's one on ebay currently.

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48 minutes ago, MusingMuso said:

Someone really messed it up, by bidding higher than the Buy it now price, which means that it has to run as an auction for the next 5 days.

However, not to be outsmarted, I've listed it again slightly differently (which circumnavigates the rules of e-bay :)  ).

Just search for COMPTON ORGANS.

However, there is a further problem, in that a whole paragraph is missing on p126 (I wonder if anyone has noticed?)  What I'm doing is burning  a new CD and sending that out, and hopefully, I can send out replacements for those who have already got the disc. (Quite an expensive file error!)

If anyone who has bought a disc would like to save me money, they could contact me via e-mail, and I can send the corrected file back via e-mail.

I'm on camitch49@yahoo.com

MM

 

PS: There's one on ebay currently.

Colin - I just tried to buy it using the new listing, and I'm told it is no longer available in the quantity I require (ie, one)

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1 hour ago, JJK said:

Colin - I just tried to buy it using the new listing, and I'm told it is no longer available in the quantity I require (ie, one)

You were beaten to the draw.  I've re-listed it again.   I go out to the shops and come back to a scene of chaos.  The demand is far higher than I anticipated, I'm afraid.

 

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1 hour ago, MusingMuso said:

You were beaten to the draw.  I've re-listed it again.   I go out to the shops and come back to a scene of chaos.  The demand is far higher than I anticipated, I'm afraid.

 

Success! Thank you Colin - and glad it's selling well!

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Something I overlooked when releasing the Compton tome, was to pay tribute to all those (some no longer with us) who contributed so much. Even tiny bIts of information have been useful in building up the narrative and gaining an insight into the Compton company and its achievements.

So to all who have tirelessly followed what must have been the longest thread in the history of the Mander Discussion Forum, a very heartfelt Thank You.

MM

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  • 5 months later...
On 19/02/2020 at 14:02, MusingMuso said:

Something I overlooked when releasing the Compton tome, was to pay tribute to all those (some no longer with us) who contributed so much. Even tiny bIts of information have been useful in building up the narrative and gaining an insight into the Compton company and its achievements.

So to all who have tirelessly followed what must have been the longest thread in the history of the Mander Discussion Forum, a very heartfelt Thank You.

MM

MM, are you still selling the Compton tome up on ebay? I was researching info about Strand Electric use of Luminous stops & Link trainers, eventually falling down the rabbit hole at Mander. I see the last posting was in February but a lot has happened since then!

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