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If you are serious about the Comptons the links I gave should be your first port of call. Primary sources should always be given... er... primacy.

 

===========================

 

 

Well yes, but by last port of call, I meant the last thing to worry about. Most of the infromation I have, save for the definitive year of his birth, which I suspect will turn out to be 1876 rather than 1874. The birthplace was probably Newton Burgisland, which is a tiny village almost attached to Swepstone, and I suspect that the former probably was or is in the parish of the latter.

 

Of far greater interest are the family details and the sort of occupations in which they were involved, because JC's father had four children by one marriage and at least another four by another; marrying three times it would seem. He obviously had the means to send JC to a top school in Birmingham. It suggests that JC was not a day boy but a border at King Edward VI, where he eventually became head boy, and that must have been quite expensive.

 

At the moment, I am really struggling to find out almost anything about Jimmy Taylor and Leslie Bourn(e), who were absolutely critical to the success of Compton.

 

I find it absolutely fascinating that a very talented organist, (Jimmy Taylor), who was also clearly an incredibly able electrical-engineer, could somehow float through a very productive life with barely a mention anywhere, other than the fact that his name pops up on various very complicated patents.

 

This is the difficulty, because although most companies rely on the skills and experience of their staff, the route Compton took relied on something else.....almost like equal and brilliant kindred spirits working together like perpetual school-boys; forever dreaming up news ideas and clever ways of doing old things in very new ways. More importantly, they made it all work; in some cases for anything up to 80 years, thus demonstrating an astounding grasp of engineering, electronics, electrical engineering, material properties and even the physics of sound. There is nothing else like it anywhere, because before Compton there was only steam and compressed air, and afterwards, only tradition, (if we ignore the developments in transistorised logic switching, followed by modern digital transmission systems).

 

Then you discover that they not only did experimental RADAR work and made electronic organs , but also took out patents on an electric space-heater which was shown at the Ideal Homes Exhibition!

 

There are also hints of real madness. I mean, what other company could place a cathedral pipe-organ in what was virtually a bunker, and then relay the sound via loudspeakers into the body of the church, as they did at Salford?

 

Even the idea of an quite elderly John Compton hacking away at a village church organ in Italy, carrying oujt "tonal experiments" while under detention and surrounded by German soldiers during the war, is the stuff of boy's comics; especially since he probably knew Marconi, who had become something of a fascist on his return to Italy, and actually hailed from the area of Italy where Compton was holed up. Were they in touch, I wonder, because Marconi had spent a lot of time in England? Why else would Compton go to a virtually unknown village on the slopes of the Apennines?

 

Of course, considering what was going on back at the factory in North Acton, why the hell did the fascists release Compton and allow him to go back to England?

 

It's all part of the fun of researching this story, because there are so many aspects to it and not a few blind alleys.

 

Best,

 

MM

 

PS: Remember those old record decks with the notched rim and the light shining onto the notches to control the speed? Another Compton inventon!!

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You need to spend some money on subscriptions.

You should be able to find out a lot about his family (though not necessarily his precise birthdate) from family history websites such as http://www.findmypast.co.uk and http://www.ancestry.co.uk. I

 

Ancestry may be available for free as part of the membership of your local library.

There is info on Midgley in the Elvin section on Compton in his book 'Pipes and Actions'.

Ian Bell gives the year of Compton's birth in his BIOS article and Elvin gives the place in his Compton info (but, I agree,primary sources are the best of course).

PJW

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Ancestry may be available for free as part of the membership of your local library.

There is info on Midgley in the Elvin section on Compton in his book 'Pipes and Actions'.

Ian Bell gives the year of Compton's birth in his BIOS article and Elvin gives the place in his Compton info (but, I agree,primary sources are the best of course).

PJW

 

 

=============================

 

 

I think Ian Bell was quoting the Musical Opinion obituary, which gave the birth year of Compton as 1874. Other evidence suggests 1876, so I haven't yet got the definitive year. However, this is small beer compared to finding out so many other important things. For reasons I have explained, and the passage of time, first hand accounts of almost anything are now beyond reach. For example, Ian Bell's involvement was as a young apprentice in the last years of the company, by which time it was starting to fail. Too much time has passed, and unravelling the history and biographies is probably not going to be possible, which is why I am taking a very different path.

 

It is the story of Compton "the team" which is uppermost in my mind, rather than details of where the company obtained its wood screws. Time-line history just wouldn't explain anything much at all, and may even be rather boring. On the other hand, the technology and science is fascinating.

 

Best,

 

MM

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Of far greater interest are the family details and the sort of occupations in which they were involved

 

Do you mean that you know the occupations, but want to find out more about them, or do you mean that you want to find out what occupations they had? If the latter, look up the online census returns. They will list all the family members living under the same roof on the night of the census - any who were elsewhere will be listed under the address at which they were staying, but so long as you know their names, tracing them is usually easy via the search facility. The returns also list the occupation of each person, their relationship within the family and their age (though age statements need treating with caution). What the census returns won't reveal is any children who were born and died in (actual or relative) infancy between one census and the next. But, as I mentioned before, this won't get you beyond 1911 because the later census returns are not yet public (there's a 100-year rule).

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Do you mean that you know the occupations, but want to find out more about them, or do you mean that you want to find out what occupations they had? If the latter, look up the online census returns. They will list all the family members living under the same roof on the night of the census - any who were elsewhere will be listed under the address at which they were staying, but so long as you know their names, tracing them is usually easy via the search facility. The returns also list the occupation of each person, their relationship within the family and their age (though age statements need treating with caution). What the census returns won't reveal is any children who were born and died in (actual or relative) infancy between one census and the next. But, as I mentioned before, this won't get you beyond 1911 because the later census returns are not yet public (there's a 100-year rule).

 

 

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Thanks for this Vox, which could be helpful when it comes to fine detail. What I have discovered thus far, is that John Compton (Snr), (JHC's father) married no less than three times, and judging by the birth years I have of their offsrping, it looks certain that J H C was a product of the third marriage; the year of his boirth given as 1876 in Swepstone, but more likely in the Parish of Swepstone, which I seem to recall may have included Newton Bergusland about a mile away.

 

My interest centres around his father at this stage, because I've discovered that he went to Australia, which makes him out of the ordinary. I'm not too sure, but I seem to recall reading (but failed to make notes at the time) that one of the Compton family died in battle, and I think was Australian, which suggests that he may have been J H C's half brother.

 

Sniffing around at this, I wonder if John Compton Snr may have been a military man?

 

This may explain by J H C went to King Edward VI school, because if his father was a military CO, it is quite likely that his school fees may have been paid by some sort of bursary, which was quite common until recently....the last time I checked, that is. However, this is pure speculation on my part, but sometimes instinct is useful.

 

I'm currently focusing of Leslie Bourn, the electronics wizard, and I'm delighted to report that two of the houses in which he lived are still standing, but thus far, that's about all I know. He was still a signatory and joint applicant to some of the later patents, at a time when he was living in Wiltshire after WW2, which is quite interesting. It also raises questions as to whether he was retired, or perhaps worked for himself or another company. I think we can say with certainty that he didn't commute to North Acton every day!

 

I think the cart-horse needs a bucket of water and a nose-bag full of straw. I've been at this for the past three days almost solidly.

 

Best,

 

MM

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Re Ivor Norridge, Didn't he work for Henry Willis at some point in time ?

 

Ivor used to tune the Willis organ in Perth City Hall, but I think that was for Rushworths'. John Dunbar was Willis's Scottish rep at the time.

 

The 1928 Compton at All Souls, Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church, Belfast (an early example of the mature Compton style) has a Quintaten produced by playing the Flute at 8 and 2 2/3 pitches.

 

Maurice Forsyth-Grant ('Twenty-One Years of Organ Building') mentions that when he started his training as an electrical engineer at Faraday House, the boy next to him was one David Midgeley, whose father was connected with Compton's and introduced him to the factory. Shortly afterwards, Midgeley senior had a row, apparently over rival patents held by him and Leslie Bourn, and severed his connection with the company. Didn't Midgeley have a 4 manual Compton residence organ (two of the manuals were duplicates of the other two), described way back in 'The Organ', and wasn't it recycled in a later Compton instrument? I must look that one up....

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The 1928 Compton at All Souls, Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church, Belfast (an early example of the mature Compton style) has a Quintaten produced by playing the Flute at 8 and 2 2/3 pitches.

 

Maurice Forsyth-Grant ('Twenty-One Years of Organ Building') mentions that when he started his training as an electrical engineer at Faraday House, the boy next to him was one David Midgeley, whose father was connected with Compton's and introduced him to the factory. Shortly afterwards, Midgeley senior had a row, apparently over rival patents held by him and Leslie Bourn, and severed his connection with the company. Didn't Midgeley have a 4 manual Compton residence organ (two of the manuals were duplicates of the other two), described way back in 'The Organ', and wasn't it recycled in a later Compton instrument? I must look that one up....

 

 

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Now this is wonderful David, because it makes sense of something I've been scratching my head about. There are separate patents for the electronic production of musical tones; some of which are American filed patents dated 1929 -1935. Other patents were jointly submitted by Compton’s and A H Midgley.. I believe they also include patents submitted jointly by J I Taylor & A H Midgley; one of which is connected with the luminous lights of the jelly-mould Compton theatre organs; probably circa 1935.

 

Other references to A H Midgley include an improvement to telephones, suggesting that they either pre-date or post-date his days at Compton, Certainly, Midgley moved from Sudbury in Middlesex, to a new address in Wiltshire circa.1945, which must indicate a permanent separation from Compton’s.

 

I wonder speculatively, whether Midgley wasn't hoping to make a bit of cash from his inventions, which may or may not have been invented as part of his work at Compton's. If that were the case, (and I'm not suggesting it is without evidence), there would be an immediate legal conflict as to whom the patents belonged. Normally, the company would be the beneficiary in such circumstances, and it may be that Midgley was hoping to benefit from his inventions personally.

 

It may be possible to discover from the patent dates when Midgley departed, because there seems to be a point when only the names of Leslie Bourn, James I Taylor and the Compton company appear on the patent applications.

 

It's probably the sort of thing which will forever remain a mystery, but the fact that Maurice Forsythe-Grant wrote about it, does tend to suggest that the conflict was irreparable and of some significance.

 

What strikes me as I read more about the finer details, is the sheer hot-house talent within the Compton company....John Compton himself, Jimmy Taylor (a fine electrical and general engineer as well as an organ-builder), Leslie Bourn, A H Midgley and Maurice Forsythe-Grant . It’s quite an impressive line-up.

 

I must try and get hold of a copy of “21 years in organ-building” and get hold of a copy of Elvin’s “Pipes & Actions”, even if the patents are possibly a better source of detail.

 

Anyway, many thanks for this very significant piece of information, all of which goes into the growing database. I just know that pulling it all together is going to be a nightmare!

 

Best,

 

MM

 

 

PS: Compton's birth year has now been confirmed as 1876 rather than 1874.

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Here is what MF-G wrote:

 

'On the first day [at Faraday House] we all took up our places in the the lecture rooms, sitting next to anybody who happened to be there. I was singularly fortunate, for the boy who happened to be next to me, after hearing of my interest in organs, said straight away that he could arrange a visit to an organ factory in Acton. He was David Midgley who was the third son of Mr. A.H. Midgley, a Director of the Compton Organ Company. so, one Saturday morning - people alays worked on Saturday mornings in those days - I went by tube to North Acton to Comptons. I was courteously received at the main door by the Works manager, Mr. H.H. Brown, who led me through the offices to the factory floor where he introduced me to one of the chaps at the benches, Mr. Ted Rippin. I was left alone with Ted who took me on a quick tour of the whole place. They were extremely kind to me and I was subsequently allowed to go almost any time I liked to visit the factory.

 

About this time there was some kind of row between Mr A.H. Midgley and the Compton Board, something to do with rival patents held by Mr. Midgley and Mr. Leslie Bourne who later became the main technician to develop the Compton 'Electrone', Mr A.H. Midgley resigned from the board, but it did not make any difference to my visits to Comptons. So my real 'apprenticeship' in organ-building was by personal tuition from Ted Rippin - and nobody could have had a better tutor. Apart from going to Comptons every Saturday morning for nearly a year, I used to meet Ted regularly at 'Pubs' [sic] in the evening when the talk was almost 100% 'organ shop'. Ted liked his pint or two of beer, but I was just a novice at that pastime!'

 

When MF-G decide to make his own organ, he picked up pieces, mostly from HN&B, but the pipes from Comptons:

 

'....Comptons came to my aid when Mr. Bert Earle, the Works Foreman, told me to come along with transport and he would arrange to let me have a 73-note harmonic Flute of 4 foot pitch. Again the bull-nose Morris came into use and off we went to Chase Road, North Acton, and loaded up our precious - but very leaden - cargo! John Compton himself suddenly appeared as we were loading up, and i went to ask the cost of the pipes. He replied in his kindly manner, "just give 5/- to the storeman"!'

 

I have a feeling Midgley's organ was used as the basis of St. Luke's, Chelsea, but I'm not sure.

 

Although the 'Quintaten' at All Soul's, Belfast seems rather an oddity (why not just have a Nazard instead of tying it to the 8'?), it's no nearly as daft as the 1939 Evans and Barr/1988 Abbey Organ Co. extension organ at Glenavy Parish Church, Co. Antrim, where the Great Open Diapason appears on the Swell as 'Quintaton'!

 

I have a copy of 'Pipes and Actions' if you want me to look up anything for you.

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The Elvin Compton chapter relates:

Elvin had letters he had preserved from Compton. I wonder if he deposited them in an archive?

About 1914 AH Midgley made the acquaintance of John Compton.

Musical Opinion sept 1938 has an article by Midgley's son on his father's work.

Bruce Buchanan then archivist at JW Walker lent Elvin material on Midgley's experiments. Whether they were in his own or Walker ownership he does not say.

Compton and Midgley parted in 1937.

Musical Times March (1937) has an advert for Midgley-Walker Pipeless organ.

Musical Opinion sept 1939 has an advert for Midgley Electronic Instruments Ltd.

 

PJW

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Someone who knew everyone well at the pre-war Compton Works was Leslie Barnard, who died just about a year ago, aged 95. I have kept all of Leslie's letters over a 30 year period and they often mention J I Taylor. Leslie certainly kept in touch with one of JIT's sons into the 1980s. I shall have to go for a good rummage in the archives and will report back any relevant findings to the Forum.

 

JIT could demonstrate any organ and in any style. He might just be recognizable on the ITN footage of the Queen's re-opening of St Bride's, Fleet Street. There is a VHS transfer of this somewhere, apparently.

 

JIT died on 6 April 1958 in the Central Middlesex Hospital. He left an estate worth over £36,000.

.

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JAMES ISAAC TAYLOR - COMPTON'S RIGHT HAND MAN

 

I've gleaned a little further background inforrmation on JIT. He was born in Radford, Notts in 1892, the only child of Henry Taylor (a church caretaker - very useful for a son who's interested in organs, I should imagine!) and Clara Ann Taylor. By 1911 JIT had moved away from his parents' home (he's not listed with them on the Census), though I haven't managed to locate him - yet.

 

JIT married Lilian D Skinner in Nottingham in 1919. Her brother, Roy Skinner, would later work for the John Compton Organ Co.

 

According to Leslie Barnard the Taylors had two sons: "one became a market gardener and the other rose to heights in the insurance world". I've traced a birth of James L[aurence] Taylor in Nottingham in 1926. Laurie Taylor once entertained Leslie Barnard to lunch at the Farmers' Club, Whitehall, so I suppose he was the market gardener!

 

After the above the trail has gone cold again!

 

...apart from a fascinating online reference to a wartime JIT patent concerning electric pre-selector gearboxes for motorcars.

 

Malcolm Riley

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The Elvin Compton chapter relates:

Elvin had letters he had preserved from Compton. I wonder if he deposited them in an archive?

About 1914 AH Midgley made the acquaintance of John Compton.

Musical Opinion sept 1938 has an article by Midgley's son on his father's work.

Bruce Buchanan then archivist at JW Walker lent Elvin material on Midgley's experiments. Whether they were in his own or Walker ownership he does not say.

Compton and Midgley parted in 1937.

Musical Times March (1937) has an advert for Midley-Walker Pipeless organ.

Musical Opinion sept 1939 has an advert for Midley Electronic Instruments Ltd.

 

PJW

 

 

===============================

 

 

I normally have quite a forensic mind and a good instinct, but A H Midgley really has posed a problem for me, even though I have been able to locate two of his home adresses which still remain to this day. I was probably diverted by the fact that he ended up in Wiltshire after WW2. Quite what he did in the meantime remains a mystery, but from the information you have given, it suggests that his work in pipeless instruments continued, as well as the other bits and bats I stumbled across when searching among patent applications. A more extended search of those archives may reveal the nature of his career and life-work, but how relevant that is to Compton I cannot know as yet.

 

It tends to suggest that he was a very talented electrical engineer and early electronics man, but it may be that he was overshadowed by Leslie Bourn during his Compton years. The J W Walker connection is especially interesting, considering the links between Walker and Compton in the depression years. One wonders whether A H Midgley wasn't their intermediary during that time, which could explain his continuing relationship with Walker's after he left Compton's. I just wonder if he didn't pursue his career working, (perhaps directing), a none organ related company, yet continued to dabble in electronic organs.

 

I had no idea that Walker's ever got involved with pipeless instruments.

 

Just one point......was your reference to "Midley Walker" a typo, or was this the actual name?

 

Anyway, this is a bit of a breakthrough for me, and it may help to flesh out what I already know. Many thanks.

 

Best,

 

MM

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JAMES ISAAC TAYLOR - COMPTON'S RIGHT HAND MAN

 

I've gleaned a little further background inforrmation on JIT. He was born in Radford, Notts in 1892, the only child of Henry Taylor (a church caretaker - very useful for a son who's interested in organs, I should imagine!) and Clara Ann Taylor. By 1911 JIT had moved away from his parents' home (he's not listed with them on the Census), though I haven't managed to locate him - yet.

 

JIT married Lilian D Skinner in Nottingham in 1919. Her brother, Roy Skinner, would later work for the John Compton Organ Co.

 

According to Leslie Barnard the Taylors had two sons: "one became a market gardener and the other rose to heights in the insurance world". I've traced a birth of James L[aurence] Taylor in Nottingham in 1926. Laurie Taylor once entertained Leslie Barnard to lunch at the Farmers' Club, Whitehall, so I suppose he was the market gardener!

 

After the above the trail has gone cold again!

 

...apart from a fascinating online reference to a wartime JIT patent concerning electric pre-selector gearboxes for motorcars.

 

Malcolm Riley

 

 

================================

 

 

Every so often a piece of information falls into my lap which rocks me back on my heels, and this is one of those moments.

Just how brilliant a mind did Jimmy Taylor possess?

From the information you have supplied, Jimmy Taylor was all of 16 years of age when the manager of a cinema in Stafford contacted John Compton following a crisis with his string trio. The cinema manager had the idea of installing an organ, and if the reports I have read are true, Jimmy Taylor electrified a pneumatic player-roll piano and added some ranks of organ pipes, thus creating the world's first theatre organ which wasn't a traditional classical organ.

That's mind-blowing enough, but the idea was so successful, there were about 10,000 such instruments built around the world, yet only two or three here in the UK. Other makers included the well know firms of Gulbransen, Rudoplh Wurlitzer and Robert Morton, with business links also to the Pianola Company.

Now I'm not sure if Compton and Taylor didn't patent the idea without checking, but I seem to think that they did.

However, the next astonishing fact is that this precocious 16 year old then went on to play the darned thing to accompany silent films at the first night for the instrument!!

So not only was he obviously talented as an organ-builder and electrical engineer, he was also a very able musician indeed; his time at St Bride's testimony to that.

Now we discover that he dabbled in gearboxes and control systems, which is what a pre-selector box is!

What astonishes me is the humble nature of his background. I had expected to eventually discover well off parents and the best possible education at one of the better schools. Instead, we find a father who was a caretaker and a kid who'd obviously left school and gone to work at an early age. It begs the question of how he may have picked up so much skill in so short a time and at such a tender age.

What I do know is that Jimmy Taylor lived in some style; his home in Ealing being a large, detached property, then newly built, so I am not surprised to learn of a substantial estate when he died: equivalent to around £700,000 to-day.

The depth and range of talent within the Compton Company takes a new twist, and that's before we even get a handle on the war-work in radar and the equally brilliant mind of Maurice Forsythe-Grant; one of the founders of Racal, which eventually became Vodafone and the first billion pound company in the UK!!

This is a story rather than just a history, and a rather daunting one in many ways. How I would love to discover a link between Sir Bernard Lovell and Compton's, but wanting to find something would be bad research.

Many thanks for your contribution.

Best,

MM

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If it's of further interest, I am in touch with John Skinner, Laurie's son, and he has been to a couple of events at Southampton. He tells me he well remembers his Uncle Jim Taylor.

 

I have his contact details.

 

Peter

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Further notes on James I Taylor:

 

Leslie Barnard wrote to me in March 1984 with this impression of Jim Taylor, a 'great and well loved character... He was famous for his extraordinary powers at extemporary playing but he was also an excellent player from the dots, when he had time to get up a programme, and he broadcast several recitals from B[roadcasting] H[ouse] in the thirties, playing the standards - Bach, Franck, Karg-Elert, Guilmant etc. He was not one to boast but it WAS his harmless boast that he had played services for every denomination in the book, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, Wesleyan, Presbyterian, Congregational, Baptist, Liberal Synagogues where they have organs, Town Halls and Crematoria. Apart from that he was the most able all-round organ builder ever, next to The Old Man John Compton himself, having done with his own hands every job there is to be done from sawing up hard-wood by hand when he was a boy to making pedal keys, to action and soundboard work, designs, setting out, voicing and finishing. He was also brilliant at organisation, staff management, dealing with Bishops, Deans, Vicars, Rectors, Organ Grinders, Moderators, Rabbis, Town Clerks, busybodies, consultants and organ nuts. He was short, stocky, genial, humorous and fatherly. He spoke standard English but for anecdotes where appropriate he could always drop in to a lovely Nottinghamshire. He was THE anecdotist. In the years I knew him he told me hundreds of droll stories connected with the craft of organ building and he seemed to have a card index brain and to know what he had told you because he never told one twice unless you asked him to go back to it.

 

Sounds like he was one in a million!

 

Malcolm Riley

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JAMES ISAAC TAYLOR - COMPTON'S RIGHT HAND MAN

 

I've gleaned a little further background inforrmation on JIT. He was born in Radford, Notts in 1892, the only child of Henry Taylor (a church caretaker - very useful for a son who's interested in organs, I should imagine!) and Clara Ann Taylor. By 1911 JIT had moved away from his parents' home (he's not listed with them on the Census), though I haven't managed to locate him - yet.

 

JIT married Lilian D Skinner in Nottingham in 1919. Her brother, Roy Skinner, would later work for the John Compton Organ Co.

 

According to Leslie Barnard the Taylors had two sons: "one became a market gardener and the other rose to heights in the insurance world". I've traced a birth of James L[aurence] Taylor in Nottingham in 1926. Laurie Taylor once entertained Leslie Barnard to lunch at the Farmers' Club, Whitehall, so I suppose he was the market gardener!

 

After the above the trail has gone cold again!

 

...apart from a fascinating online reference to a wartime JIT patent concerning electric pre-selector gearboxes for motorcars.

 

Malcolm Riley

 

In the 1911 census James Taylor and Compton are both boarders at James Terrace, Bingham, near Nottingham. Compton is described as OB employer, Taylor OB worker.

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In the 1911 census James Taylor and Compton are both boarders at James Terrace, Bingham, near Nottingham. Compton is described as OB employer, Taylor OB worker.

 

 

 

=========================

 

 

Thank you for this. I note that on checking on Google Earth and associated maps, this address no longer exists; the house probably since demolished. The thing which strikes me is how parochial Compton was at that time. First from a tiny hamlet, to working in Measham about 2 miles away, living close to Nottingham and then starting his own company in the locality. I'd almost like to wager that very few people in Nottingham and the surrounding area have ANY idea just how significant these names, (and others associated with Compton), actually were. There is absolutely no mention in the various on-line histories of anything Compton: not even in the village of his birth. I suspect a lot of it has to do with John Compton himself, whom I gather was rather shy and introvert, and never one to seek either fame or publicity.

 

Best,

 

MM

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Just one point......was your reference to "Midley Walker" a typo, or was this the actual name?

 

Sorry; a typo since corrected.

PJW

 

=================

 

 

Thanks for the correction. You never know with trade names and the like!

 

I've come across a fascinating and very extended article about electronic organs; one of the authors being a certain Mr A M Midgley who makes reference to a certain A H Midgley, with a learned reply from a certain Mr Bourn criticising some of the details in what seems to be a slightly scathing manner.

 

Do I sense a certain schism between the Midgleys and Compton's Mr Bourn, I wonder, or simply someone who was far cleverer?

 

Best,

 

MM

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Further notes on James I Taylor:

 

Leslie Barnard wrote to me in March 1984 with this impression of Jim Taylor, a 'great and well loved character... He was famous for his extraordinary powers at extemporary playing but he was also an excellent player from the dots, when he had time to get up a programme, and he broadcast several recitals from B[roadcasting] H[ouse] in the thirties, playing the standards - Bach, Franck, Karg-Elert, Guilmant etc. He was not one to boast but it WAS his harmless boast that he had played services for every denomination in the book, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, Wesleyan, Presbyterian, Congregational, Baptist, Liberal Synagogues where they have organs, Town Halls and Crematoria. Apart from that he was the most able all-round organ builder ever, next to The Old Man John Compton himself, having done with his own hands every job there is to be done from sawing up hard-wood by hand when he was a boy to making pedal keys, to action and soundboard work, designs, setting out, voicing and finishing. He was also brilliant at organisation, staff management, dealing with Bishops, Deans, Vicars, Rectors, Organ Grinders, Moderators, Rabbis, Town Clerks, busybodies, consultants and organ nuts. He was short, stocky, genial, humorous and fatherly. He spoke standard English but for anecdotes where appropriate he could always drop in to a lovely Nottinghamshire. He was THE anecdotist. In the years I knew him he told me hundreds of droll stories connected with the craft of organ building and he seemed to have a card index brain and to know what he had told you because he never told one twice unless you asked him to go back to it.

 

Sounds like he was one in a million!

 

Malcolm Riley

 

 

==========================

 

 

Thank you Malcolm for this fascinating insight to this extraordinary person. I stumbled across your performances of Whitlock and others on Youtube, played on the organ of St Bride's....a very welcome addition indeed, and magnificantly performed on that superb instrument. I know that when I played a couple of recitals there about 30 years ago, I enjoyed the organ tremendously, and the sheer comfort of that console was exemplary.

 

I think one of the reasons I like Compton organs, must be the fact that I won the organ class playing one at the Wharfedale Festival.

 

Best,

 

MM

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Was the Laurie Taylor, gardener, referred to above the same person as Professor Laurie Taylor who was a regular on "Gardeners' Question Time" on Radio 4 (along with such aptly named sons of the soil as Bill Sowerbutts, Fred Loades and Clay Jones)?

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The on-going research has just taken a very interesting turn when I set out to discover something more about one of the Directors of the Compton Organ Co., A H Midgley, who seemed to have stormed out after a row,.

 

I am absolutely staggered to discover that, as an electrical engineer, he had almost 200 patents on which his name is cited as the inventor. The patents are principally concerned with three main categories of work. The first appears to be work on dynamos and synchronous motors, the second concerned with automotive electrics and self-starter machanisms and the third, rather more sinister, that of designing fuses for bombs and artillery shells, including the infamous "earthquake bomb" designed by Barnes Wallace. He seems to have been connected with the Vandervell Company, who I think had a factory in Acton, no doubt supplying people like Renault, possibly Rolls-Royce, Napier and others; some of which were based in or around North Acton in the vicinity of the Compton works when the area was a centre for motor-vehicle and engine production.

 

A H Midgley appears to have been a director of a company styled as Midgley-Harmer Ltd.

 

It's easy to see why he could readily forsake Compton Organs and go his own way, for he really was quite a prolific inventor with considerable connections outside organ-building.

 

Best,

 

MM

 

 

 

PS: Correction - Vanderwell bearings was created after the acquisition of CAV. CAV stood for C A Vanderwell, later to become CAV-Lucas Ltd.. They were active from the early days of the motor-industry as suppliers of dynamos, self-starters and magnetos (etc) and based in Acton Vale.

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I've recently discovered that after the death of John Compton, (1957), and Jimmy Taylor the year after (1958), not only was Clifford Hawtin around, a certain Arthur Lord became General Manager. I have yet to discover who the directors of the company were at this time, but the fact that Arthur Lord was involved in running things must have had some significant effects.

 

Arthur Lord was a former cinema organist who broadcast regularly on radio, and it seems that he and Leslie Bourn worked closely on electronic developments. One wonders if the electronic side of the business wasn't, at the time, becoming the main thrust of the business; perhaps serving a need for less expensive organs. It's interesting that Compton Organs Ltd., as they had then become, did not pursue the then lucrative light-entertainment, home organ market, at a time when all sorts of names rushed to supply a need. (Thomas, Farfisa, Yamaha, Baldwin, Hammond etc etc)

 

Clearly, there was some sort of connection or association with Kenneth Burg, who at some point had established Livingstone-Burg, who supplied any number of electronic organs, especially to military chapels and such.

 

Arthur Lord doesn't seem to have stayed long at Compton's, and within a few years, he had established the company which still exists to-day......Wyvern Organs.

 

Clearly, this thrust towards the electronic market confirms what must be an etsablished truth, which Ian Bell pointed out in the BIOS article. Clearly, Compton's just didn't change tac when the classical revival started to dominate the organ-world, whereas a company like Mander Organs, as well as J W Walker & Sons Ltd., Hill, Norman & Beard and others, responded quickly to the new style with some success. The sadness is, that with the likes of Ted Rippen and Maurice Forsythe-Grant, there was both the skill, willingness and intelligence to pursue the neo-classical path, yet they had to form their own company in order to achieve this.

 

I'm not sure what information may come to light in due course, but the circumstantial evidence certainly points towards a company having lost direction and innovation in pipe-organ matters. Clearly, by 1960, the writing was on the wall for the company.

 

Best,

 

MM

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Arthur Lord doesn't seem to have stayed long at Compton's, and within a few years, he had established the company which still exists to-day......Wyvern Organs.

 

Not really adding anything to this thread, but I remember Arthur Lord coming down to oversee the installation of my (comparatively modest) Wyvern toaster and testing it out in situ. I noticed him testing the Great flutes with the (flute) Tierce, but without the (principal) Twelfth. To me (pre-conditioned never to use the Tierce without the Twelfth) this seemed odd - surely the Twelfth and Tierce should be of the same tone family? When I mentioned this to those more in the know, I was given to understand that the use of the Tierce without the Twelfth was quite a Compton trait. I occasionally use this combination, even on my pipe organ, but, even though the sound is acceptable enough, I continue to find it slightly odd.

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