About

Background

The workshop is part of a group of craft workshops at Welbeck, provided by the Harley Foundation, a charitable trust set up by a legacy from the 7th Duke of Portland to promote the crafts. We are fortunate to be able to work in beautiful rural surroundings, in a modern purpose-built workshop, surrounded by some of the finest craftsmen and women in the country. Between 1985 and 2003 we benefitted particularly from the experience and advice of our neighbours, Derek Adlam, doyen of early keyboard instrument makers, and Bernd Fischer, one of the finest makers of early keyboard instruments in the world.

The firm was set up by Martin Goetze and Dominic Gwynn in September 1980, to start with in a small workshop in Northampton, and since March 1985 in a purpose built workshop at Welbeck near Worksop in North Nottinghamshire, on the northern edge of Sherwood Forest. The aim is to work with a small team of committed organbuilders, flexible and with a complete range of skills, built around the permanent input of the skills and experience of the three directors.

We are committed to training the next generations of organbuilders. We have trained five English organbuilders, Stuart Dobbs, James Collier, James Mattheson, Joseph Marsden and Abigail Balfour, one Australian, Timothy McEwen, and provided further experience for eleven young German, Swiss, Latvian, French and Spanish organbuilders. Joseph Marsden is the son of Charles Marsden who has assisted us greatly over the years with his expertise and skill in colouring and finishing the casework of our organ projects, both new organs and historic restorations.

Who we are

Martin Goetze and Dominic Gwynn Ltd is a firm of seven craftsmen dedicated to the production of pipe organs of high quality in classical styles. After the death of Martin in 2015 there are two directors, Dominic Gwynn and Edward Bennett, and usually four or five other craftsmen. The directors are full time organbuilders. They share responsibility for the design, supervision and finishing of each project, though the advantage of a small firm with a committed staff and experienced directors is that much of the responsibility is shared. Since January 2009 we have been assisted in the running of the business by Emma Hagen.

Edward Bennett studied organ at the Guildhall School of Music in London, started organbuilding with Grant, Degens and Bradbeer in Northampton in 1971, and gained further experience with Hradetsky in Austria and at the Sydney Opera House in Australia, and with Peter Collins before joining the firm in 1985. He is now organist at St Anne’s Worksop.

Martin Goetze started organbuilding with Grant, Degens and Bradbeer in Northampton in 1971, and further with Gabriel Kney in London, Ontario in Canada, before starting the firm with Dominic Gwynn in 1980.There is now a page within the website dedicated to Martin’s work.

Dominic Gwynn studied Modern History at St John’s College, Oxford and started organbuilding with Hendrik ten Bruggencate in Northampton in 1976, before starting the firm in 1980. He is researching and writing a book on organbuilding in early modern English society and culture.

Nicholas Hagen joined us in December 2008 after 18 years’ experience as a cabinet maker, antique restorer and polisher, latterly in church restoration and conservation. He has City and Guilds in the above disciplines. His wife Emma started work with us part-time in 2009 running our office and accounts, following the retirement of Carol Bakewell.

Joseph Marsden joined us from school in September 2009 after a few weeks’ work experience the previous year.  Since then he has been trained in the workshop disciplines of organ building.  He has taken over the metal pipe making, both flue and reed pipes.

Abigail Balfour joined us as a trainee organ builder in January 2013, after a degree in Psychology at Lancaster University, organ playing at Lancaster Priory and tuning with David Wells in Liverpool.

Chris Davies joined us in January 2016 as an adult trainee. He is from Rossington, South Yorkshire, a friend of Joseph, who will train him in all the different elements of organ building and restoration, through the whole workshop. Chris is also a tuba player with Armthorpe Elmfield Brass Band. Chris has worked as a car mechanic, specializing in classic cars.

What we Do

In new organs we make all the parts of the organ in our own workshop, apart from the blower. We use English oak and Scots pine, and cow-bone and ebony for the keys. The metal is usually 17 to 30% tin, according to the information from the pipes we are following as a model. The workshop environment is controlled for temperature and humidity, so that the organ can be made at the average temperature of its new home. The wood is air-dried, firstly outside for one to two years, and then in the workshop to the level of the building where the organ will eventually live.

We aim to follow museum standards of restoration. We are Business Members of the Institute of British Organbuilding, and are members of the United Kingdom Institute of Conservation. In 1999 we were shortlisted for the Jerwood Conservation Award for our work on the 1826 Elliot organ at Belton Hall and in 2004 we were runners-up for our work on the 1829 Bishop organ at St James Bermondsey. We have worked for the National Trust, the Royal Collection and for a number of other collections and museums.

We look to the best continental practice as a benchmark against which to set our own standards of craftsmanship. The three partners became interested in the organ in the late 1960s, and were among those who looked to Holland, Germany and Scandinavia for inspiration. The connection was made easier thanks to family connections in Holland and Germany. The development of our organbuilding has been influenced throughout by visits to Holland and discussions with Dutch friends, later extended to Germany, Spain and Italy.

Many of our organs have been made for use by professional musicians in the field of the Early Music. We look to instrument makers of the Early Music world for inspiration, advice and encouragement. The constructive support of musicians in the Early Music world has been a vital influence on our attitude to our work.

We conduct research into old organs and make it available in photocopied reports. The Harley Monographs are technical reports on organs restored or researched by ourselves. A list with prices is available from us, or from the Organ Literature Foundation. Our research is also publicised widely as lectures and articles, especially through the conferences and Journal of the British Institute of Organ Studies, but also in the Organists’ Review and the Organ Yearbook.