This year’s Christmas Card


This organ was built in the 1890s and was housed in the three-abreast gallopers on the sea front at Mablethorpe Lincolnshire, owned at the time by the Gray family.  These instruments were built to represent a medium-sized orchestra, the main sounds being trombones, saxophones, violins, clarinets and piccolos.  The opulent decoration and the gaudy colours, like the interiors of the musical theatre and gin palaces, were designed to attract the newly-leisured lower classes, a mirror to the luxury of the rich.

It was purchased in the 1960s in very poor condition and restored by former Chiappa employee M. Rooney.  Chiappa were Britain’s main importer and manufacturer of mechanical instruments throughout the 1800s and 1900s.  They are still trading today, making punched cardboard music from their works in Eyre St Hill, London.  The organ is now owned by the Bishton family of showmen, who still use the organ for its original purpose, which is to attract custom to their ‘old-time’ vintage fair.

It has undergone major mechanical and pipe restoration in the Goetze & Gwynn workshop under the close eye of Stuart Dobbs whose background and interest is in this type of instrument.