Local Groups


There are currently 4 Local Groups,

The following gives more details and latest reports from each group

MIDLANDS Group (meets at a variety of locations across the East Midlands)
Next meeting - 14th October 2017, Derby 11:00 am

Latest meeting report

The meeting started with a non-musical mechanical object, this being a vintage tinplate toy by Lehmann of Germany.  The ‘Tut-tut’ is a particularly collectible toy comprising a man driving a car whilst blowing his trumpet, and dates from 1903.  The car moves erratically along, steering this way and that whilst the man blows his trumpet. Two Polyphons, were demonstrated, both playing 11½” discs, but sounding completely different, showing the difference between the single and double comb models.

A rare 4½” Symphonion manivelle was demonstrated which played a 20 note disc.  These looked similar to the more usual 30 note discs used by the similar model, often found as part of the Symphonion carriage clock, but obviously are not interchangeable. Two larger cylinder boxes were played, the first a sublime harmony box by Conchon with an 11” cylinder.  It plays six operatic tunes, including La Traviata and Carmen, then a Nicole Freres with a 13” cylinder playing eight operatic tunes.   It plays favourites from Verdi, Bellini, Rossini and Gounod. Our host demonstrated his Hupfeld Helios orchestrion, which he has spent the last three years working on.  This was bought from a guest house in Bavaria, where it was installed new, sometime around 1920. Other instruments in the collection were also played.

TEME VALLEY WINDERS (Based in Worcestershire but also covering surrounding areas)
Next meeting 16th June 2018, 11:00 a.m.

Latest meeting report

Several cylinder boxes were demonstrated including a “Super” mandolin box. The “Super” identity was defined by Anthony Bulleid as being mandolin boxes with groups of at least 8 teeth tuned to the same note enabling the note to be sustained for as long as required. The box demonstrated had groups of 9, 8, 7 and less and played 4 tunes on 186 teeth. Another cylinder box had an unusual speed governor which was circular with 3 vanes. A 20th century Reuge item was shown which has two dancing dolls which twirl to the music. This effect is achieved by the dolls being lifted up and down by the mechanism, and twirling because of their uneven leg lengths, a frequently found Swiss innovation.

An interesting Jungens musical clock was shown which had a small Symphonion disc playing movement mounted vertically below the clock. These clocks usually have the movement mounted horizontally under a lid at the top. Aspects of the clock also indicate that it may have originally been lever wound but later changed to key wind.

A large singing bird in a cage which was undergoing restoration was shown enabling everyone to see the (now working) mechanism for the song, as well as the original feathering of the bird which was awaiting new feathers. A nightingale box was also demonstrated (these are plain boxes which play the song of a nightingale). Music was also provided by piano rolls during the day.

WESSEX (Hampshire and surrounding area)

Next Meeting: 21st October 2017, 10.00 a.m. - 3.00 p.m.

Venue: Gilbert Room, Twyford Parish Hall, Hazeley Road, Twyford, Winchester, SO21 1QY

Doors open just after 10.00 for refreshments, etc.

Once again we are expecting about 20 members and guests for a fun day of looking at, listening to and talking about mechanical music, with the opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones. Bring your own packed lunch, and anything you wish to show/talk about. Hot drinks & squash provided. The theme for this occasion is ‘America’ (any item made in America, or featuring American music, or any other connection) - or any topic or item of your own choice.

Further information from: info@mbsgb.org.uk

Latest meeting report

The suggested topic for the day was ‘early music.’ This was featured on a fine Nicole 12 air, two-per-turn ‘oratorio’ box, and included an exceptionally fine arrangement of the Hailstone Chorus; a four-air piano forte Nicole Frères ‘sacred airs’ box, and a piece from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro on a Paillard mandolin box. (This last box is the one playing on the ‘Home’ page of the MBSGB website.)

Other featured cylinder boxes include a fine example of a Nicole Frères cylinder box in a walnut case, with the comb stamped ‘F. Nicole’ and with the serial number 22165. This suggests that surplus François Nicole combs were being used by other makers after he ceased production of boxes. Another unusual feature was the tune sheet, which appeared to be the box’s original sheet, but had all the appearance of belonging to Lecoultre rather than Nicole. Also an ‘alternate tip’ Paillard, playing 10 airs of a very random selection of tunes popular from throughout the 19th century.

Disc musical boxes presented were an exquisitely sounding 13 ½ inch Orpheneon, a Kalliope 7 5/8 inch with bells (demonstrated with and without the bells engaged), a small Celesta and a 15 ½ inch Regina.  By way of contrast, a 24 note street harmonium (reed barrel organ) was also demonstrated and discussed. As usual, there was a lot of catching up with friends and exchanging of ideas during the refreshment breaks.

Meetings held alternately at: 
The Musical Museum, 399 High Street, Brentford. TW8 0DU
And St Marks Church Hall, Colney Heath, Hertfordshire, AL4 0NH (See here for directions)
Next meeting - 7th April 2018 - EXCLUSIVE all day event at St Albans Organ Museum - open to all

Latest Meeting Report - September 2017

The meeting was held at the home of two Society members instead of the normal venues. A garden railway provided some initial entertainment before members moved in to the new organ studio. Some members had brought cylinder and disc musical boxes so these were demonstrated first. After listening to the quieter instruments the entertainment was provided by an Aeolian Pipe Organ, Opus 1124 (built by MrPerrins of Lea & Perrins sauce), originally installed in Ardross castle. The organ has two manuals and pedals and is able to play 58/116 note rolls on the main console and specially recorded 176 note Duo-Art Organ rolls via a separate player unit which controls the stops and swell shutters automatically. These rolls were recorded by famous organists of the period 1915 – 1930. We really enjoyed “The Whistler and his Dog” by Arthur Prior which was recorded by Lew White and re-played to us via the roll. Lew White was a well-known theatre organist of the period.

A buffet lunch was provided as members sat outside on a warm day with plenty of discussion and stories to hear. The final instrument in the afternoon was a 3-manual Wurlitzer cinema organ of 12 ranks from the Ritz cinema, Barnsley. The various sound effects which were used when accompanying silent films were demonstrated as these instruments were originally marketed as a 'Unit Orchestra', rather than an organ, to replace the orchestral musicians used at silent cinemas. Our host played a selection of tunes by hand but also demonstrated a rare, fully automatic, Moller Artiste roll player unit which reproduced “In a Monastery Garden” by Albert Ketelbey, and “When Evening Shadows Gather” by Stoughton.