John Holt (1876-1946)

holt_name_goughst.jpg holt_nameb.jpg holt_namec.jpg holt_name_ian_small.jpg

John Holt (b.1848-d.14/1/1932) of Birmingham was a builder of high quality reed organs who probably built some of the best and certainly largest ever, including at least one 4MP. John Holt was born in Lymm, Cheshire (only 3 miles far from where I live in Grappenhall) in 1848 and died on 14/1/1932 of pneumonia aged 83 in Birmingham. The Holts were a well known long established local family who had employment and service connections with the Booth family (the Earls of Warrington) which stretched back over centuries. A perusal of the 18th century payments for casual labour at Dunham Massey Hall shows many of the same surnames appearing 100 years earlier. The Holt family appeared on the list of outdoor staff at Dunham Massey in the 1820s [151]. We belive John's wife was Sarah J. (but there is some confusion with Mary), and by 1881 they had three children: Margaret E., George and Wallace (Wallis) Groves (b.1876-d.1967), all born at Upper Gough Street, Birmingham.


John's youngest son John William (Bill) (b.1886-d.1946) took over the firm when John died in 1932 and continued until he died in turn in 1946. He was assisted by his younger sister Doris Mary (b.1891-d.1976), who kept the accounts and looked after correspondence, tuned reeds and helped in the shop. She also looked after the family after the death of her Mother. The family lived, at least around 1885 at 141 High Street, Bordsley. The firm started at 62 Upper Gough Str., Birmingham from 1882-4 then moved to Clarence Works, 33 Fordrough Str., Birmingham from 1884-6, then 81 Latimer Str. South, Birmingham from 1888-98 and 176 Station Rd., Harborne, Birmingham from 1899-1904 and finally Pioneer Works, 12 Station Rd. since 1907, Corner of Clarence Road, Harborne for 1905-45. Harborne is 3 miles south west of Birmingham city centre.

jw_holt_small.jpg doris_holt_small.jpg


The name Royal College Pedal Organ or Pioneer Organ was used for some of Holt's products advertised as a student's model with pedals in 1915 for the price of 45 guineas. Single manual instruments were also available and even pianos, the establishment being for a while called the Pioneer Organ and Piano Works. In 1931 the 1M reed organs cost from 6 guineas but the pianos were 18 guineas.

In 1945 Holt's were advertising as:

                           Complete for 
                   PERFECT ORGAN PRACTICE AND 
   Console as the modern pipe organ, characteristig tone colouring. 
Especially suitable for small churches, etc., as well as for home use.

A note from Bernard Edmonds in BIOS Reporter: [47]: The arrival of the John Holt reed organ papers in the Archive brings back memories of my sitting, as a small boy, between old John Holt and my father in the choir of Harborne Wesleyan Chapel. John was a jovial bearded person and known as ``Mr Dunlop'' to us, from resemblance to a well-known advertisement, and his son as ``John Willy''. Another son, long before, had left his father and gone to Rushworth and Dreaper, but this was rather a sore point and not referred to. The products were very artistic and musical; one for the old ``5IT'' BBC Birmingham broadcasting station was demonstrated in the factory by Gilbert Mills (deputy organist at the Town Hall) [this must have been netween 1922 and 1927 when 5IT bcame 5GB], and other ones went to Dr. Marmaduke Conway and Rev. Dr. George Sydenham Holmes; the magnum opus was a large four manual made in earlier days which turned up out of the blue when a new owner asked for a visit. Old John went along, found only a minor fault, and when asked for an estimate remarked 'Give me a bit of firewood and I'll do it now'. The stop-list I cannot trace, but John told me that the original purchaser wanted the console designed on the lines of that then in Westminster Abbey.

The full article was published in the Journal of the Norfolk Organists Association No.29 Autumn 1999 pp5-6.

The latter organ is described in an article by Phil and Pam Fluke [69] and some details re-produced below.

RFG-2942 - photo of John Holt factory


A lot more information about the layout and internal equipment of the factory is given in the Fluke's article [69]. Unlike Sawyers, they had quite a lot of modern electrical-powered machinery.

Wallis G. Holt (b.1858 [not possible]-d.1967), went to work for Rushworth and Dreaper in Liverpool and assisted them in designing and building the Apollo Organ, see Chapter 21.

2943 - photo of Holts and employees with 2M organ and dog.

John Holt is on the far right and his son William is standing next to him holding the dog's lead.


Business declined before the war, and in fact was operated in the ``red'' for two years. During the war years they survived by doing organ maintenance, tuning and repairs. They were offered a contract to build 65 folding organs for the admiralty, but were unable to accept has they had insufficient capital to get the project off the ground. It was hoped that the situation would improve, but John W.'s health declined and he died in 1946. Doris continued for the next two years but no further organs were built, so she gradually disposed of the business.

Pioneer Works was taken over by L.R. Fleming who had been the local representative for pipe organ makers Hill, Norman and Beard. Doris Holt initially rented the workshop to him after the death of J.W. Holt. Fleming bought the firm of W.J. Bird in Birmingham and moved into Holt's former premises. Geoffrey Morgan of Dorset wrote: Last year (2004) I met a dear old man named Leonard Fleming, who later died aged 100. He had run a small pipe-organ firm, Bird of Birmingham, which had taken over the old Holt workshop in Harborne.

There were several attempts to keep the Holt name going, and indeed there were some orders for re-conditioned organs. Firstly one R.I. Walton was considered as foreman, but did not take up the offer. The resident piano tuner, Robert Birch did so for some time, but could not get enough second hand organs to satify demand.

Papers relating to the John Holt and Co. reed organ business from 1913-14 are in the Birmingham City Archive referenced as MS918.

John Holt's organs were of long-lasting and innovative design. He held a British patent for stop actions in 1885 number 13,069 and for a coupler action in 1900 number 9,824. In my opinion, these really do make a difference in playing. Another key feature of the Holt design is that the lower soundboard was set back under the keyboards allowing the player to get his/ her knees underneath, which make the instruments more like a normal organ. This can actually be quite a problem in instruments like earlier Spencer (sold by Crane) which have a very deep American style action, at least it is for me! However when I tried playing the large 3MP Holt at Saltaire I found the pedals to be too far set under the manuals for my liking. This is not a problem with Holt's 2MP instruments. Many characteristics of the Holt organ were also clearly carried over into the Apollo, built by Rushworths, as shown in Chapter 21.

Holt 14.jpg Holt 24.jpg

Some people have described Holt's stop action as ``gimcrack''. I disagree, and actually think it is a very clever design, having moved the traditional reed organ stop rod cam down onto the main structure. Spencers never moved it, and their later stop action is very heavy. The design of Holt organs is so that every unit can be lifted off, and this means that even the stop jambs separate easily from the rest of the mechanism, as shown in the photos below, taken at Bruce Dracott's workshop. I also find the fact that each main piece of the action can be removed by turning iron latches, very similar to the ones found in harmoniums, or small wooden plates, is an impressive feature. A few of them are shown in the various pictures.

See Ord-Hume [130] Figure 46 p82.

It is also probably John Holt's idea to have the octave and sub octave couplers included with the action on the chest, rather than between the keyboards. This made the instruments a lot easier to work on, and meant that more couplers could be included. The pedal couplers too were moved to a special frame at the rear of the instrument, with special ``splays'' underneath the organ to carry pushrods with the correct spacing to couple with the manual keys.

The abstract from John Holt's patent 9,824 is as follows. 9824. Holt, J. May 29. Organs and like instruments. - The invention relates to coupler mechanism. In order, say, to couple the choir organ keys A to the pedal, the former are provided with levers E pivoted to them at e(1) and extending into notches f(1) in vertical rods F which rest on the pedals. On drawing a stop H, or depressing an equivalent pedal, a hinged rail G is moved so as to occupy the position shown in full lines. When in this position it acts as a fulcrum for the levers E, so that, when one of the rods F is moved upwards by depressing a pedal key, the corresponding lever E is moved by the rod F, and its opposite end being fixed it moves the key A. The great and swell organ keys can be coupled to the pedals by similar means. Rods L, shorter than F, but acting in a similar way, can be used to couple the great or swell organs to the choir organ. In order to couple the choir organ keys to the great organ keys B, the latter have pins b(2), which operate levers V mounted in the former. The keys A will then be depressed by the keys B when a rail W has been moved so as to engage with the levers V.


There is a real creativity, depth of thought and attention to quality here, which means that John Holt could easily have built pipe organs, but to my knowledge he never did. For some reason he preferred reed organs and continued a limited production of around 10 per year, much as Mustel had done with the Art Harmonium in the 19th century.

These are amazing instruments closely following the Royal College of Organists (RCO) recommendations concerning console layout issued from 1881. Holts indeed marketed their products as the ``Normal Organ'' or ``l'Orgue Normal'' in France as well as England. The ROS Quarterly has featured articles on no less than nine 3MP Holt organs, one said to be the 3rd largest reed organ ever made (although there was allegedly a 3M Debain with 50 ranks of reeds which must be hard to beat and several big ones by Sawyer). [These may have been half sets of harmonium ranks.]

Holt exhibited a 4-manual reed organ at the Musical Instrument Exhibition at the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington in 1896. This was just 32'' wide so that it could pass through a normal doorway. There was also a 4MP Holt built in 1938.

Other notable instruments include the 3MP which was built and installed in the Edinburgh War Hospital in 1916. This was until 1915 the Bangour Village Hospital near Broxburn 14 miles from Edinburgh and taken over by the War Office as a military hospital. The numbers of staff and beds were increased substantially to cater for the influx of wounded soldiers who began to arrive in June of that year. By 1918 the hospital had reached a record capacity of 3,000 patients, crammed into wards, huts and specially erected marquees. The Holt incorporated a 32' Pedal stop and Swell Horn Diapason. The hospital recreation hall had a Christie theatre organ from the Lonsdale Cinema, Carlisle from 1972-79. The hospital site is currently un-used but there are photographs including the organ (which?) in collection LHB44 of the Lothian Health Service Archive.

Phil Fluke, proprietor of the Saltaire Museum, has much more information about the Holt firm, including many original plate photographs [69]. Serial numbers of instruments relating to the year of manufacture dates are given by Robert Gellerman [76], and some photographs re-produced here are from his Web site. Papers from the firm are now in the collection of the British Institute of Organ Studies (BIOS). As we did with the Rushworth Apollos, the production numbers are re-produced here for completeness:

Year up to Holt No. Number produced
1876 ?? first year of production ?
1904 1287  
1917 1416 10 per year
1919 1430 7 per year
1922 1454 8 per year
1925 1477 8 per year
1926 1479 2
1928 1504 12 per year
1929 1509 5
1933 1534 6 per year
1934 1540 7
1936 1548 4 per year
1937 1552 2
1938 1554 2

Number 1318 is dated 10/9/1907 which fills a gap in the table.

Number 1476 is dated 19/2/1925 and also written on card in the instrument is ``Overhauled 1937''. Thanks to Chris Hampson for this information.

Number 1544 is signed by John W. Holt and dated 3/5/1935.

The numbers produced per year since 1904 are actually smaller than for the Apollo. It seems that a total of around 270 organs must have been built over 33 years. Putting this in perspective, Phil Fluke told me that Mustel (the premier French harmonium builder) only built between 12 and 15 harmoniums per year as compared to the vast output of the American Estey firm.

However we now know that there were much earlier instruments, for instance number 293 which is a 1M dating from August 1881. This instrument carries the Holt name label from 62 Upper Gough Street. We know that Holts lived at this address from at least c.1876, so they may have built 1M instruments until c.1900. This indicates that a total of over 1500 Holt instruments were built. Where are all the other early ones?

I had a message from Geoffrey Morgan of Dorset: I used to own a 2MP Holt. The swell enclosure was very effective and I seem to remember a clever cam arrangement which ensured that the crescendo was even, as the pedal was moved. (Something similar was built into the R&D Apollo organs.) My Holt had an Open Diapason on the Great, which had harmonium reeds mounted without cavities but with a specially shaped cover over them to modify the tone. It was quite extraordinary, very slow and nothing like an Open Diapason! I wonder if this was a speciality of Holt's? Actually it wasn't, but was indeed quite unusual. Schiedmayer in Germany had something similar called Waldhorn 16'.

Dominik Gückel has sent me information about a copy of a John Holt catalogue he has from c.1929 [212]. Some of the information below is taken from this catalogue and used to confirm the other information that we have about Holt reed organs. Some earlier information is from a French catalogue, see Chapter 10.2.

I have tried to list the instruments described below in chronological order.

Mr. Ellis Dudley's Westminster Abbey 4MP (c.1896)

[some confusion in this section to be clarified]

John Holt Snr. is reputed to have built a reed organ to be used in place of the Westminster Abbey pipe organ while the latter was being rebuilt in 1895, maybe as a consequence of the Islington Exhibition (see note above). It was a 4MP instrument with 45 stops. Rumour has it that this had originally been built for the 1897 Music Trades Exhibition in the early days of the firm, as noted in the article from Bernard Edmonds above. The pipe organ being rebuilt at Westminster was a 4-manual instrument by William Hill originally from 1884 which was eventually replaced by one by Harrison and Harrison in 1937. See article in Musical Opinion [211]. The Holt reed organ almost certainly no longer exists.

4 manuals
45 stops

Swell:                           Great:
Gedackt 16'                      Double Diapason Bass 16'
Posaune 16'                      Double Diapason Treble 16'
Double Diapason 16'              Open Diapason 8'
Tremulant                        Gemshorn 8'
Rohr Flote 8'                    Bass Flute 8'
Voix Celestes 8'                 Dulciana 8'
Oboe 8'                          Super Octave
Clarion 8'                       Forte
Trumpet 8'
Clarionet 8'                     Pedal:
Principal 4'                     Double Open Diapason 16'
Hohl Flote 4'                    Bourdon 16'
                                 Cornopean 8'
Choir:                           Violoncello 8'
Hohl Flote 8'
Lieblich Gedackt 8'              Couplers:
Salicional 8'                    Swell-Great
Dulcet 8'                        Choir-Great
Forte                            Swell-Choir
Principal 4'                     Solo-Swell
Lieblich Flote 4'                Great-Pedal
Solo:                            Choir-Pedal
Campanola (gongs) (prepared only)
Orchestral Oboe 16' (prepared only)
Concert Flute 4' (prepared only)
Posaune 8'
Vox Humana 8'
Dulciana 8'
Cor Anglais 8'

4x 58 note manuals CC-a'' (with 61 note reed ranks)
2x composition pedals to each of Great and Swell

The stop descriptions may be in the wrong order, but this is clearly quite an early instrument with many influences from standard 19th century reed-organ design.

Liz Domett's Holt 1M number 293

This very early 1M instrument bears the black paper John Holt name label with the address 62 Upper Gough Street. It is owned by Liz Domett in New Zealand. After some correspondence and discussion with Louis Huivenaar and others we can confirm that this is a suction instrument of English manufacture. Internally it carries the signature of John Holt: ``J. Holt Aug 1881 62 Upper Gough St. Birmingham''. This fits with the dating information given above, and this is the earliest instrument we know by Holt still to be extant.

holt_293.jpg More Pictures

H.A. Needham's Holt 3MP/13 c.1898

This note appeared in The Organist and Choirmaster Vol.9 Issue 107 (March 1902) p266.

Dear Sirs, - mention has been made in your columns of Mr. John Holt's organs. May I say that Mr. Holt built a three manual organ to RCO regulations for me about four years ago. It contains 13 sets of reeds as follows: Great 3; Swell 4; Choir 3; Pedals (30) 3. It has 8 couplers and 6 composition pedals. The organ tones represented are well imitated. The ``full organ'' is bright and full, and the response, including pedals, all that could be desired. I shall be pleased to show this organ to any of your Midland readers who are interested in the matter. Yours faithfully, H.A. Needham. 27/2/1902, The Coppice, Gravelly Hill, nr. Birmingham.

Could this be the earliest 3MP Holt?

Another column in The Organist and Choirmaster Feb'1902 describes a similar instrument. We do not have proof that this is the same one, but it seems likely, so here is some of the text and possible specification.

I have had two organs of Mr. Holt's maufacture, one a two manual and pedal organ, and the second, a three manual and pedal organ, the latter blown by a Hydraulic Engine, the power being supplied from the town water mains.

The tone of the reeds is as near that of a pipe organ as possible, in fact, the organ has often been taken for a pipe organ. The stops of course are named the same as on a pipe organ, and give the same sound.

In case it may interest your readers I give a specification of the last three manual and pedal organ Mr. Holt built for me, and which is finished up complete with Hydraulic Engine. The floor space occupied by the organ is 6ft by 2ft 9ins, and the pedals project another 9ins making 3ft 6ins. The pedals are detachable from the organ should occasion require.

The specification is either not complete or in the wrong order.

Swell (4 ranks):             Great (3 ranks):
Gemshorn 4'                  Principal 4'         
Horn 8'                      Small Diapason 8'    
Oboe 8'                      Large Diapason 8'    
Horn 8' ?                    Double Diapason 16'  
Echo Gamba 8'                Posaune 16'          
Contra Hautboy 16'           Forte 16'            
Sub Bass 16'                                      
Tremulant                    Pedal (3 ranks):
                             Salicet 8'           
Choir (3 ranks):             Violoncello 8'       
Clarinet 8'                  Bourdon 16'          
Keraulophon 8'               Large Double 16'     
Flute 4'
Gedact 8'
Hohl Flute 8'

Swell to Great
Swell to Choir
Choir to Great
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal
Choir to Pedal
Swell Octave
Great sub-Octave

Stefan Hammermayer's Holt 2MP/12

Stefan contacted me in June 2006. This spectacular instrument belongs to him and he wanted to share the photos. The false pipework and overall appearance is very impressive. There is a YouTube video of Stefan playing Buxtehude's Prelude in D here:


The specification is as follows:

2x 61 note manuals
30 note pedals
Tuned to A=455Hz

Swell:                       Great:
Seraphone 8'                 Diapason 8' 
Oboe 8' (derived from Corn)  Dulciana 8' (derived)
Cornopean 8'                 Principal 4'
Echo Gamba 8' (Gamb + Ser)   Hohl Flute 8'
Flute 4'                     Clarabella 8' (derived)
Gemshorn 4' (derived)        Double Diapason 16'
Tremulant                    Bourdon 16' (derived)
Gamba 8'
Bassoon 16' (derived)        Pedal:
Posaune 16'                  Violoncello 8'
                             Salicet 8' (derived)
Couplers:                    Contra Bassoon 32'
Swell to Great               Open Diapason 16'
Swell Octave                 Bourdon 16' (derived)
Great Octave
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal

Balanced swell pedal
Swell to Great coupler pedal (reversible)
4x combination pedals
Watkins and Watson (Discus) blower

More Pictures

The size of the instrument is 2.2m wide x 1.4m deep with the bench x 2.65m high.

This is obviously also quite an early instrument, a Pioneer Organ from 1905 as we shall see, the Great keys are not overhanging and the stop jamb arrangement reflects the practice in some even earlier pipe organs. The console labels reflect on Holt's early exhibition pieces, and in fact this may be one of them.

Stefan confirmed this in another e-mail: I remember (and have photos of) that inside the windcase of the Pedal 8' is something written, there you can read a hand-signed "John Holt 1905''. And I know the blower is 1905 too, "Watkins and Watson, London".

I bought this instrument in The Netherlands in 1980 from a guy who bought it some months before in Great Britain, probably a dealer. Don't ask me where it was previously, I just remember being told it was in a school.

To transport the organ in 1990 from The Netherlands to my home, I took it apart to make a lot of small parts to be able to put it in my car. Later in Germany, in my home I fixed all together again. I don't really remember if there was any serial number at all, but I did look for it.

This instrument is now listed in Fritz Gellerman's DB as RFG 5766. Stefan eventually sold it in 2007 to Markus Gottswinter in Munich. It is now (2012) shown on the Web site of Dr. S. Günther, Munich, http://dr-gü

Jean-Francois Guy's Holt 2MP/5

Jean-Francois contacted me in May 2006. He had bought a small John Holt organ from an antique shop near Paris a few years previously. He said I repaired some failures (stops broken, mechanical transmission broken, leather cut in the corner of the swell "air bag"...) and now it works well. It looks like the reed organ shown in the French brochure "deux claviers et pédalier", but the words "John Holt pioneer works, Harborne, Birmingham" are written on a white plate, the same as the one you present at the beginning of your study.

The organ has five sets of reeds - two for each manual and one for the pedal. Flute 8' and Oboe 4' Swell, Diapason 8', and Hohl Flute 8' with Dulciana 8' (only one rank reeds for these two stops) Great and Open Diapason and Bourdon (only one rank reeds for these two stops) 16' Pedal. Two ranks have two stops - one which half opens and one which fully opens the shutter. The Swell has an overall shutter controlled by the swell pedal. In my opinion, the Great had a ``Forte'' stop which opened an overall shutter - there is a little square hole near the expression pedal to put an iron pedal (spoon shape?) which doesn't exist any more. There are the usual couplers as well as an octave coupler. The hand pump which originally protruded from the right hand side of the case is still there, but it has an external blower (a vacuum cleaner motor, 200 Volts!) which has been added in 1912, at the same time as the organ has been restored. In my opinion, it has been built near 1900/ 1905.

Swell:                      Great:
Tremulant                   Diapason 8'
Flute 8'                    Dulciana 8' (derived)
Oboe 4'                     Hohl Flute 8'

Couplers:                   Pedal:
Swell-Great                 Bourdon 16' (derived)
Great Octave                Open Diapason 16'

1 swell pedal

The organ is in a medium oak case. It has the Swell reeds above the swell air tank which is above the "claviers". In the base, there is a large air tank for both Great and Swell, and the semi-large air pumps moved with the right handle.

Robert Gellerman's Database

RFG-2938 - 2MP pipe-top instrument shown in the Holt factory.

This is quite an early instrument. Note the early label and stop layout. It can be compared to the full specification of Stefan Hammermayer's instrument below.


RFG-2939 - 3MP see below.

RFG-2941 - 1M parlour organ


Martin Kasparek's 2MP/5 number 1318

When I first heard of it this instrument was owned by Graham Underwood, who wrote to me: Thanks for your enquiry I'll send photos as soon as I get home - they're on my other computer. The organ has five sets of reeds - two for each manual and one for the pedal. 8' and 4' Swell, 8' and 16' Great and 16' Pedal. Each rank has two stops - one which half opens and one which fully opens the shutter. In addition the Great has a Forte stop which opens an overall shutter - the swell has a similar shutter controlled by the swell pedal. The stop mechanism is the weak point of the design but also looks as though it has been modified - the wood around the stops does not match - it may be that as original there was only one stop per rank. There are the usual couplers as well as an octave coupler. The hand pump originally protruded from the right hand side of the case - there is an air reservoir gauge there. It had an external blower (a vacuum cleaner motor) when I bought it but I have managed to fit this inside with a manual speed regulator.

Approximate dimensions: 57" wide 56" High 44" deep including pedalboard.

I enclose a photo taken through the open lid - the swell pedal mechanism can be seen on the right which opens a pair of shutters on the top of the reeds.

Swell:                         Great:
Flute 4'                       Diapason 8'
Gemshorn 4' (derived)          Dulciana 8' (derived)
Oboe 8' (derived)              Posaune 16'
Clarionet 8'                   Bourdon 16' (derived)
Swell-Great                    Pedal:
Great Octave                   Open Diapason 16'
Swell-Pedal                    Bourdon 16' (derived)

Balanced swell pedal on RH side


This organ was sold on e-Bay 21/4/06 for £155 (item number *7670 and bought by Martin Kasparek who lives in France. He contacted me in May 2006 while still waiting to collect the instrument. He told me it has serial number 1318, so probably dates from around 1908. Martin sent me more information in August in stripping down the organ we found this label glued inside the great windchest, dating the instrument precisely to 10/9/1907, presumably the date the instrument left the workshop, or at least the date the great windchest was sealed with its gasket. The swell windchest was dated a month or two earlier and initialled as far as I can tell by John Holt himself directly on the wood, perhaps signing off on the work of an apprentice or assistant, or else as a reminder of when it was completed? The serial number is stamped or written in various places, including the exterior of the case.


St. Michael and All Angels, Martin Hussingtree 2MP

This instrument is recorded in the catalogue with the following photograph.


Chris Hampson noted that the church Web site says that the Holt organ was replaced in 1932 by a barrel organ later converted to keyboard. A photo of the church itself can information about the village can be found here

St. Leonard's Hatfield 2MP/6

Jason told me about this instrument he saw in Hatfield Village Church in 2006. It is another of the smaller 2MP instruments made by Holts, also early one bearing the Normal Organ label, but still eminently useful. It is number 3537 in the ROS DB.

Swell:                        Great:
Clarinet 8'                   Open Diapason 16'
Celest 8'                     Open Diapason 8'
Gemshorn 4'                   Dulciana 8' (derived)

Couplers:                     Pedal:
Swell-Great                   Open Diapason 16'
Swell-Pedal                   Bourdon 16' (derived)

hatfield_console.jpg More Pictures

I was told in 2010 that there is a plan to restore this instrument.

Andrew Cooper's Holt 2MP/5

Andrew Cooper is an organ builder and has a 2MP Holt similar to the one in the French brochure. He says I had my first organ lessons on this particular instrument, some 35 years ago, and was able to purchase it some ten or so years ago and have restored it (I am an organ builder!). I've always had a high opinion of the Holt instruments, despite that gimcrack stop action. It is interesting to find out about John Holt and his business.

Casework is identical to that shown in French brochure.

The feeders, bellows and Swell concussion bellows were covered with leather, rather than rubberised cloth, and these were re-leathered during restoration.

He sent me the following specification:

Swell:                          Great:		     
Salicional 8' (derived)	        Double Diapason 16'  
Gemshorn 4'                     Open Diapason 8'     
Clarionet 8'                    Dulciana 8' (derived)

Couplers:                       Pedal:		     
Swell to Great                  Open Diapason 16'    
Swell to Pedal                  Bourdon 16' (derived)
Great to Pedal
Great Octave

Trigger swell pedal.
Pedal for foot blowing and a handle at the side for hand blowing.
The organ is electrically "blown" via a Discus suction unit.

Mr. Penberthy's Holt 2MP/5

Here is another one with the same specification as Andrew Cooper's and which is also electrically blown. It was advertised for sale (e-Bay *5938) Feb'2010.

This instrument was originally in Camborne Methodist Chapel, Cornwall. It was removed in 1950 by Mr. K. Penberthy and installed in his music room in Hayle. It was for sale on behalf of his son.

Interestingly, this instrument carries the Murdoch and Murdoch label, but is noted as a Pioneer Organ with John Holt's patent couplers. It measures 58'' long, x55 1/2'' tall, x28'' deep.


Wim Kamp's 2MP/9 Holt

A very similarly styled but slightly larger Holt organ is used as a practice instrument by Dutch organist Wim Kamp, now living in Norway, Web: He says it was built in 1910.

Swell:                      Great:
Bourdon 16'                 Open Diapason 8'
Gamba 8'                    Clarabella 8'
Principal 4'                Dulciana 8'
Cornopean 8'                Principal 4'
Tremulant                   Clarinet  8'

Couplers:                   Pedal:
Swell Octave                Bourdon 16'
Swell-Great                 Open Diapason 16'
Great Octave


We are sad to note that Wim Kamp died at a young age in 2005.

Mr. York Bowen's 2MP

A 2MP with a 32' pedal stop was noted in Musical Opinion March 1917 and December 1935. Edwin York Bowen (b.22/2/1884-d.23/11/1961) was a composer living in London and had suggested using a 32' stop as an experiment. The instrument was probably built by Holts, but this is not confirmed in the 1935 article [224].

Mr. Heath J. Haviland's 2MP

A 2MP with a 32' pedal stop noted in Musical Opinion March 1917. Maybe the same instrument as above.

Reed Organ and Harmonium Workshop 2MP/?

This is a 2-manual instrument from the Web site of the Reed Organ and Harmonium Workshop in Hebden Bridge. It has a sound opening above the console, so probably has a full width soundboard for both Great and Swell, giving capacity for more reeds. It is also of extra-large width, so may have large-scale reeds. It is finished in dark oak, and is probably very load. Guessing at the stop layout it may possibly have up to 12 ranks of reeds.

2 manuals, 20 stops

Couplers:                    Pedal:
2 stops                      1 stop

Swell:                       Great:
10 stops                     7 stops

1 swell pedal
2 combination pedals


Organ for the ``5 IT'' broadcasting station

Details of this organ are not known. It was said to have been played at the Holt factory by Gilbert Mills prior to installation. Mills was from Birmingham and also oversaw the installation of the 4MP Compton theatre organ in the Wolverhampton Civic Hall in 1926 [check].

Birmingham University Catholic Chaplaincy 2MP/12

This organ in Edgebaston was advertised on the Reed Organ and Harmonium Workshop Web site, it was sold in early 2004:

Holt organ two manual and pedal reed organ. Height 5 ft x Length 5 ft 11" x width 3 ft. The pedal board sticks out a further 1ft 6 in and the electric suction unit needs at least 1ft 6 in space behind it.

Both Ian Thompson and I contacted the seller, but unfortunately we were unable to obtain further information at the time. However the specification of this organ had previously been recorded by Ian [181] who overhauled it in 1986. It is as follows:

Swell:                    Great:
Bourdon 16'               Diapason 8'
Lieblich Gedacht 8'       Dulciana 8'
Echo Gamba 8'             Hohl Flute 8'
Voix Celeste 8'           Principal 4'
Gemshorn 4'               Clarinet 8'
Cornopean 8'
Couplers:                 Open Diapason 16'
Great-Pedal               Bourdon 16' (derived)
Great Super Octave
Swell Super Octave

Balanced swell pedal
Two combination pedals:
    1) Dulciana and Pedal Bourdon
    2) Full Great and Pedal Open Diapason
1/6 HP BOB blower

Ian also noted that the Swell Voix Celeste is a set of reeds which are tuned slightly sharp and beat against the Echo Gamba which sounds simultaneously. The pedal Bourdon and Open Diapason are very effective. A lot of additional details of the construction and layout of this instrument are given in his excellent article. He particularly notes the use of wide Mason and Hamlin style reeds for the Great Open Diapason and the use of resonating boxes for some of the ranks to promote a more pipe-like sound quality. Clearly Holts were evolving their ability to control free reed voicing.

One of these ``qualifying boxes'' is shown in a photo in the ROS Bulletin of November 1986, page 10. It is held by Geoff Fanner who gave a talk at the Saltaire Reed Organ Convention that year on his work in restoring several Holt organs.

Saintbury Parish Church 1M/5

This is the one-manual Holt also described by Ian Thompson [181] who overhauled it in 1986. Saintbury is in Gloucestershire near to Aston Subedge where the organ was in use until around 1985. Its six stops are Bourdon 16', Open Diapason 8', Octave, Dulciana 8', Principal 4', Clarinet 8'. The manual is the usual 5-octave CC-c''' and Ian re-tuned it to A=440Hz from 442Hz during the overhaul. The left hand knee lever operates full organ and the right hand opens swell shutters which cover all the reeds except the Open Diapason. The latter was a set of harmonium reeds arranged in the way described by Geoffrey Morgan, and with its own set of backfalls and pallets. Many more details of this arrangement and the difficulties he had restoring it are given in Ian's article.

NPOR N16038 2MP/11

Searching for Holt in the NPOR revealed this interesting record N16038 of an organ, said to be from the Holt Reed Organ Co. Birmingham from a survey of 1934. It was in the Baptist Church, Station Road, Church End, Finchley. We are not completely certain if it is a reed organ, but the specification is included until proven otherwise as it is not unlike the other specifications, so probably has 11 ranks and would indeed be a fine instrument for a small church. The original source is CD Vol. 88 p121. Based on our analysis of Holts stop names it almost certainly is one!

2x manuals 58 notes CC-g''
30 note pedal board

Swell:                  Great:
Bourdon 16'             Open Diapason 8'
Lieblich Gedact 8'      Hohl Flute 8'
Echo Gamba 8'           Dulciana 8'
Voix Celeste 8'         Principal 4'
Gemshorn 8'             Clarinet 8'
Cornopean 8'

Couplers:               Pedal:
Swell-Great             Open Diapason 16'
Swell-Pedal             Bourdon 16'
Swell Octave            Violone 8'
Great Octave

5 combination pedals

This is very similar to the Edgebaston instrument.

ROS Bulletin August 1986, 2MP/10

Another very similar instrument featured in Ian Thompson's article in ROS Bulletin, August 1986 [181].

Swell:                         Great:                          
Bourdon 16'		       Diapason 8'                     
Lieblich Gedacht 8'	       Dulciana 8'                     
Echo Gamba 8'		       Hohl Flute 8'                   
Voix Celeste 8'		       Principal 8'                    
Gemshorn 4'		       Clarinet 8'                     
Cornopean 8'		                                       
Couplers:		       Open Diapason 16'               
Great-Pedal		       Bourdon 16'                     
Great Super Octave
Swell Super Octave

Great unenclosed
Swell balanced pedal
Two combination pedals: 
   a) Dulciana and Pedal Bourdon
   b) Full Great and Pedal Open Diapason

St. Nicholas, Beaudesert

Now Henley-in-Arden, a Holt reed organ is listed by Haycraft p009 and NPOR entry SP1566.

Holt Organs in New Zealand

This note was posted by Michael Cox of Auckland on Noel Mander's organ discussion Web forum in August 2005.

I'm a great fan of John Holt reed organs as I owned one for quite a while and several were exported to NZ in the 1920s. There are several two manual and one three manual preserved here. These 3 manual models have pedal 32's. The full Swell effect on my Holt was most appealing as was the Great Clarinet. The engineering was very creditable.

We also have an interesting ``compensating'' reed organ in the Roman Catholic Church of Lyttelton near Christchurch. Reeds plus one Open Diapason 8' rank.

Holt was advertising in the New Zealand press in 1924. The ad of 3/12/1924 from the New Zealand tablet mentions the instruments in St. John's Lyttleton, residences in Canterbury, one being built for St. Andrew's Church, Stratford (2MP), the Masonic Temple, Christchurch (3MP), the Christchurch Anglican Cathedral (2MP) and the Temuka Presbyterian Church (2MP). The agent for Holts in NZ was at 21a Dyers Pass Road, Cashmere Hills where an instrument could be heard.

What happened to some of these instruments is explained below.

Holt 2MP/13 in Offenbach, e-Bay *4398

This previously unknown instrument was for sale on e-Bay in Dec'2014. It is said to have 13 ranks of reeds and built in 1923. It is in need of restoration - it was playable until Nov'2010 but then dismantled. The Swell Gamba was said to be particularly good and it has large scale Pedal reeds.

2x 61 note manuals, 
concave and radiating 30 note pedals

Swell:                 Great:
Cornopean 8'           Clarionet 8'
Gemshorn 4'            Principal 4'
Echo Gamba 8'          Dulciana 8'
Voix Celeste 8'        Clarabella 8'
Lieblich Gedacht 8'    Open Diapason 8'
Bourdon 16'

Couplers:              Pedal:
Swell Super Octave     Violone 16'
Great Super Octave     Bourdon 16'
Swell to Great         Open Diapason 16'
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal

balanced swell pedal
2x combination pedals



ROS-3818 2MP/12

This 2MP instrument is now in the Woodville Organ Museum, Woodville, New Zealand. It is listed together with the photograph in the ROS database and a little of its history was published in ROS Quarterly [184]. It is one of the now rare pipe top instruments similar in style to the 2MP example in the Netherlands, was built in 1925 and probably has around 12 ranks.

This organ was originally installed in Dunedin until it was purchased by one Frank Hay and moved to Pahiatua Methodist church, New Zealand. When no longer used at the church c.1980 it was purchased by Brian Collet for home use and fitted with a Kinetic blower (it now has BOB blower). He played it for around 26 years until finally selling it to the Woodville Museum.

2x 61 note manuals
30 note concave radiating pedalboard
oak case

Swell:                     Great:
Oboe 8'                    Clarinet 8'	
Echo Gamba 8'		   Principal 4'	
Voix Celeste 8'		   Dulciana 8'	
Tremulant		   Hohl Flute 8'
Gemshorn 4'		   Diapason 8'  
Lieblich Gedact 8'
Bourdon 16'                Pedal:
                           Bourdon 16'	     
Couplers:		   Great Bourdon 16'
Swell Octave		   Diapason 16'     
Great Octave
Swell to Great
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal

1x balanced swell pedal
5x combination pedals
BOB electric blower and hand blower

You can see more of the instrument and appreciate its sound on the Woodville Youtube video


3MP/20 in The Netherlands

This instrument is listed in Fritz Gellerman's picture database reference RFG-2940. It is a large 3MP instrument with a pipe top and is located in The Netherlands. Details were sent by Frans van der Grijn, 20/9/06, who said it is a Holt model number 8 recently-restored by a Dutch organ builder. It was built in 1921 and has 20 ranks.


3x manuals CC-c'''
straight flat pedalboard CC-f
30 stops

Swell:                     Pedal:			 
Tremulant                  Double Diapason 32'		 
Bourdon 16' (enclosed)     Open Diapason 16'		 
Horn Diapason 8' (enclosed)Stopped Diapason 16' (derived)
Gemshorn 4'                Bourdon 16' (enclosed)	 
Cornopean 8'               Bass Flute 8' (enclosed)  
Echo Gamba 8'              
Voix Celeste 8' (sharp)    Great:			   
Octave Coupler             Open Diapason 8'		   
                           Small Diapason 8'		   
Choir:                     Clarabella 8' (sharp, enclosed)
Dulciana 8' (enclosed)     Open Diapason 16' (enclosed)	   
Lieblich Gedackt 8' (enclosed) Trumpet 8'			   
Clarionet 8'               Principal 4'			   
Wald Flute 4'                                
Swell to Choir		   Octave Coupler
			   Swell to Great
Swell to Pedal		   Choir to Great
Great to Pedal		   
Choir to Pedal             

1x balanced swell pedal
4x combination pedals

I am not completely sure of the stop layout here, it is interpreted from the photographs and list of stops sent to my by Frans van der Grijn, but is probabably wrong.

The original pitch is said to have been Diapason Normal A=435Hz common in pipe organs at the time, and has subsequently been re-tuned to A=440Hz which is modern Concert Pitch.


A full article for the Dutch reed organ publication Vox Humana is being prepared for Autumn 2006.

2MP/10 number 1434, eBay *2945

This one appeared for sale in Polegate in Dec'2016. It carries the serial number 1434 and the paper label which reads 19/2/[19]20 F.B. John Holt extablished 1876. Pioneer Works, Station Road and Clarence Road, Harborne, Birmingham. Builder of the ``Pioneer Pedal Reed Organ'' to Royal College of Organists' Rules and to the Organist's own Specifications.

Swell:                  Great:
Gemshorn 4'             Clarionet 8'
Cornopean 8'            Principal 4'
Tremulant               Open Diapason 8'
Gamba 8'                Hohl Flute 8'
Bourdon 16'             Dulciana 8'

Couplers:               Pedal:
Swell Super Octave      Open Diapason 16'
Great Super Octave      Bourdon 16'
Swell to Great
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal

It was sold by Harmston and Fickling of Cardiff and bears their label.

The appearance of this instrument resembles the one from St. Martin's Hussingtree.


Dr. Bradshaw's 2MP in New Zealand, 2MP/11 number 1454

The instrument shown in Fritz Gellerman's pictorial database RFG-0342 is the organ exported to Christchurch Cathedral organist, Dr. John Christopher Bradshaw in 1922. He praised it very highly and on his recommendation, acting as Holt's agent, a further 12 instruments were built and exported to New Zealand.

Bradshaw's letter to Holts appeared in their advertising literature as follows:

Dear Mr. Holt,

Before placing an order with you for the construction of one of your reed organs, I saw four instruments of your make, and also several of three other builders.

I have chosen yours primarily on account of the far greater tonal variety it affords, but in constructional details also I consider your instrument leads the way. The tone you obtain from reeds for such stops as Hohl Flute I consider a remarkable achievement. I am looking forwards to make pleasurable and profitable hours spent at my little instrument.

Yours faithfully, (Signed) Dr. John C. Bradshaw, Organist and Choirmaster, Christchurch Cathedral, and Lecturer in Music, University of New Zealand.

Dr. Bradshaw was in fact born in Lancashire, and was for a time assistant organist at Manchester Cathedral [10]. He suffered from asthma and therefore applyed for the job in Christchurch and emigrated in 1902. He visited England again in 1922 for a year's sabbatical at Southwark Cathedral and made his acquaintance with Holt instruments. Upon his return to NZ he took number 1454 with him as a practice instrument.

His cathedral organ was re-built during 1926-7 and the Holt was used for accompanying hymns. This 2MP instrument had 15 stops, so probably around 12 ranks of reeds.

Swell:                       Great:
Echo Gamba 8'                Diapason 8'
Gemshorn 4'                  Hohl Flute 8'
Oboe 8'                      Dulciana 8'
Tremulant                    Lieblich Gedacht 8'
                             Echo Flute 4'
Couplers:                    Suabe Flute 4'
Swell-Great                  Pedal:
Great-Pedal                  Open Diapason 16'
                             Bourdon 16'

2x 61 note manuals, 30 note pedals
balanced swell pedal
2x combination pedals

His new house ``Suncot'' had a special music room in which he installed a piano, a second Holt (number 1509) and later a small pipe organ. Fritz Gellerman's book [78] Figure 38 shows Holt organ number 1509 owned by Mrs. Muriel Bradshaw, his second wife. It was photographed at ``Suncot'' in Christchurch, New Zealand. Dr. Bradshaw died in 1950.


Knowle United Reformed Church 3MP

A brief history of the church and its congregation is given on Graham Tall's Web site


A 3MP Holt reed organ was bought for the non-conformist United Reformed Church in Knowle in 1946. This is on Station Road, Knowle in SE Birmingham. The purchase was agreed at a special Church meeting on 7/11/1946. The organ had originally been installed at Lansdowne House, a large house at the foot of Stripes Hill. The cost in 1946 was £375 plus £25 for dismantling and re-erection. The following picture from the Web site shows the dedication service with Rev. J.W. Sharp vicar of Knowle playing and Rev. Stead of Knowle Congregational church looking on.


Because of the similarity in console layout to the one at Otaki College we assume that it is similar in date, thus being originally built around 1926 or slightly earlier.

Organists of this instrument have been: Mr. Franch from 1942-1950's - Mr. Franch was married at Knowle UR Church in 1945 and moved to Solihull in 1950, however he still continued to play at Knowle for some time. Mrs. Kathleen Greenaway from c.1950-1987. Mrs. Jean Porteous from 1987-1997. Mrs. Juanita Watson from 23/2/1997.

The specification was sent to me by Jason Fisher. He said: I didn't spend long enough with it to work out which stops were derived from others, but my feeling was that not many were, they pretty much all seemed to have slightly different tones. The Swell Gamba was not bad, the flutes throughout were pretty poor, but the Great Open diapason was excellent, if a little slow to speak. The 4' stops were all quite bright. The ``reed'' stops were all quite good and added brilliance to the chorus. The pedal department was really nice, the various 16' stops all had a different character. It was not in perfect order when I visited [in Feb'2017], but most of it was working and it was a complete joy to play.

YouTube video is here:

Three manuals and pedals
32 stops

Swell:                        Great:               
Tremulant                     Trumpet 8'           
Cornopean 8'	              Principal 4'         
Gemshorn 4'	              Small Diapason 8'    
Lieblich Gedact 8'            Hohl Flute 8'        
Voix Celeste 8'	              Open Diapason 8'     
Echo Gamba 8'	              Violone 16'          
Bourdon 16'	                                   
Couplers:                     Tremulant            
Blanked stop hole             Clarinet 8'            
  (Swell Octave??)            Wald Flute 4'          
Choir to Great                Dulciana 8'          
Great Octave                  Clarabella 8'        
Swell to Choir                                     
Choir to Pedal		      Pedal:               
Swell to Great		      Bass Flute 8'        
Swell to Pedal		      Bourdon 16'	     
Great to Pedal                Violone 16'	     
                              Sub Bass 16'	       
                              Open Diapason 16'    
                              Double Diapason 32'  

Balanced swell pedal
4 composition pedals
1 reversible action pedal (Gt-Ped)
Pedals radiating and concave
Electric blowing

A recital was given by Anne Page on the newly restored John Holt reed organ in the church on 16/6/2001.

knowle_anne_small_2.jpg knowle_anne_small_1.jpg

Thanks to Graham for the pictures and other information.

Otaki College, NZ 3MP/23 number 1479

This important instrument is mentioned in Nick Berridge's article []. A little more of its history was published in ROS Quarterly [184]. It is a substantial 3MP that was for some time hosted until c.1990 in the Music Room at Otaki College. It has serial number 1479, so would have been built in 1926 by John Holt Snr. Prior to its acquisition for the College it was in an Anglican church and then in storage when no longer required. The organist at Otaki was Bill Gordon, and when he retired the 3MP was moved to a purpose built shed at his home. Following Bill's later death it was bought by George Deans, an organ builder of Ashurst, NZ. He fitted a BOB blower and repaired the bellows and used it for some time at his own home before selling it in a dismantled state.

This instrument is now number ROS-3654 (previously 1783a) in the ROS database and was preserved in the Woodville Organ Museum, Woodville, New Zealand where it was used for regular recitals. In October 2009 we heard that the organ museum had run out of space. George had regretted selling this instrument, so had bought it back and carried out repairs befor re-constructing it in his living room.

3x 61 note manuals
30 note radiating concave pedalboard
33 stops
oak case with bevelled glass doors

Swell:                        Great:
Lieblich Bourdon 16'          Open Diapason 8'
Horn Diapason 8'              Hohl Flute 8'
Echo Gamba 8'                 Small Diapason 8'
Voix Celeste 8'               Dulciana 8'
Gemshorn 4'                   Wald Flute 4'
Oboe 8'                       Principal 4'
Tremulant                     Trumpet 8'
Couplers:                     Choir:                        
Great Octave                  Salicional 8'                   
Swell Octave                  Clarabella 8'                 
Swell-Great                   Flauto Dolce 4'               
Swell-Choir                   Clarinet 8'                   
Choir-Great                   Tremulant                     
Swell-Pedal                   Pedal:		   
Choir-Pedal		      Double Diapason 32'
			      Open Diapason 16'  
                              Bourdon 16'	   
                              Violone 16'	   
                              Sub Bass 16'	   
                              Bass Flute 8'      
1x balanced swell pedal
5x combination pedals
BOB electric blower

This organ measures 9' high, 4' deep and 7' wide. The first picture is from the ROS database, the second with panels removed showing the complex system of reservoirs is from the ROS Quarterly, Autumn 2009.

ros-3654.jpg holt_3mp_reservoirs.jpg

You can see more of the instrument and appreciate its sound on the Woodville Youtube video

Edward Lukasek's 2MP/7 number 1518

This Holt number 1518 from 1931 looks very similar to Wim Kamp's, but is slightly smaller. I would guess Wim's and also the one from the CRO site are of around the same date. Edward is a ROS member and lives in Palo Alto, California. He sent details of the instrument to be published in ROS Bulletin, November 1990.

Swell:                      Great:
Gemshorn 4'                 Principal 4'
Cornopean 8'                Hohl Flute 8'
Bourdon 16'                 Dulciana 8'
                            Open Diapason 8'
Swell-Great                 Pedal:
Swell-Pedal                 Bourdon 16'
Great-Pedal                 Open Diapason 16'

This is entry number 2944 in Fritz Gellerman's database.


It is not certain if this organ has 9 or 7 ranks, but I suspect the latter.

Christadelphian Hall, Gloucester 2MP/9, number 1476

A very similar instrument appeared on e-Bay *7634 in June 2012. This instrument was in regular use in a chapel in Gloucester until 2010. This had been a Quaker Mission Hall founded in 1880 and seating 150 people. It was purchased by the Christadelphians in 1959. The organ matches one of the instruments from the catalogue, see below. This instrument was purchased by Chris Hampson in Oct'2012. He sent the following information.

Swell:                        Great:
Gamba 8'                      Dulciana 8'
Lieblich Gedacht 8'           Hohl Flute 8'
Cornopean 8'                  Diapason 8'
Gemshorn 4'                   Principal 4'

Couplers:                     Pedal:
Great Super Octave            Open Diapason 16'
Swell Sub Octave              Bourdon 16' (derived from OD)
Swell to Great
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal

2x 61 note manuals, 30 note pedals, usual Holt style
1x balanced swell pedal
1x pedal for RH treadle
hand pump handle
electric blower

Chris later told me: Date inside the instrument = 19 Feb 1925. Also written in on card is ``Overhauled 1937''.

Note the older style of stop layout is still being used.


Malcolm Bennett's Holt 2MP/8 number 1532

This organ was purchased by Malcolm at the end of 2005. He contacted me to see if I knew where he could obtain a blower, as it was purchased without one. I visited him on 12/5/2006 and found a very nice 2MP/8 Holt numbered 1532 in original condition apart from a few small areas of damage and some dust. We do not know the history of this instrument, but the specification is as follows.

Swell:                              Great:
Oboe 8' (derived?)                  Principal 4'
Flute 4'                            Dulciana 8' (derived)
Cornopean 8'                        Open Diapason 8'
Lieblich Gedacht 8'                 Hohl Flute 8'
                                    Stopped Diapason 8'
Swell Super                         Pedal:
Swell-Great                         Bourdon 16' (derived)
Swell Sub                           Open Diapason 16'

2x 61 note manuals, 30 note pedals, usual Holt style
1x balanced swell pedal
1x pedal for RH treadle (not connected)
hand pump handle
wind regulator, but electric blower missing, switch on LH side under manuals

This has a stop name I had not seen before, the Stopped Diapason 8'. It seems to have its own set of reeds, and is not borrowed from the Hohl Flute (the Dulciana however is probably borrowed from the Hohl Flute).


The organ has a nice light oak case as seen in the photos. It has hinged panels on the lid which can be propped open. Whilst most of the stop names (with the exception of the Stopped Diapason) are normal for a Holt of this period (around 1933), the Swell suboctave coupler is very unusual. There is no 16' manual rank, which is also most unusual for a reed organ. The next picture shows the rear of the instrument, the Swell key action, pedal coupler action, LH stop action and secondary reservoir for Swell reed chest. The Swell super and sub octave couplers are at the front, above the Swell reed chest, super at the front and sub at the rear pushing down on the pitmans.

I found the ``emergency'' RH treadle a bit surprising, but looking back at some pictures, Edward Lukasek's also seems to have one. It may have been a feature of these instruments in between hand blowing and electric.


The instrument was purchased and moved to Norfolk by Mike Walker in early 2014.

Ian Smith's 2MP/11 number 1542

This organ was for sale in 2001 and Joop Rodenburg published a detailed description in ROS Quarterly winter edition of that year. Its present owner was having to sell it and provided its history. Organ number 1542 (medium-coloured oak case) was built in 1931 for John Dodd, organist at Allens Rough Methodist Church in Essington, Staffs. When he died the organ was moved to the church Sunday School and then taken over in 1979 by the W. Hawkins and Son organ company of Walsall whose 2MP pipe organ was in the church. Mr. Dodd had specified that the reed organ should be as close as possible to the same specification.

Swell:                      Great:
Tremulant                   Principal 4'
Cornopean 8'                Dulciana 8'
Flute 4'                    Open Diapason 8'
Voix Celeste 8'             Hohl Flute 8'
Gamba 8'                    Double Diapason 16'

Couplers:                   Pedal:
Swell Octave                Bourdon 16'
Swell-Great                 Open Diapason 16'
Great Octave

2x swell pedals
2x combination pedals

It was then purchased by Alan D. Jones who kept it until 1994 when it passed to Ian J. Smith.

Four other instruments are registered in the ROS database:

ROS Database entry 2676 Roll Player 2MP/8

This organ probably has 8 ranks of reeds.

Swell:                           Great:
Flute 4'                         Principal 4'
Voix Celeste 8'                  Dulciana 8'
Gamba 8'                         Hohl Flute 8'
Cornopean 8'                     Open Diapason 8'
Tremulant                        Double  Diapason 16'

Couplers:                        Pedal:
Swell Octave                     Bourdon 16'
Great Octave                     Open Diapason 16'
Swell to Great
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal


The organ is in an oak case and clearly has the Swell reeds above. It is said to be serial number 7 built in 1931 [serial number cannot be correct, but date may be]. Vacuum supply is by handle or blower. This is very similar in style to Malcolm Bennett's organ which is from 1933.

Holt 3MP/12

The specification of this instrument was noted by Phil and Pam Fluke in the May 1983 edition of ROS Bulletin.

19 stops

Swell:                                Great:
Flute 4'                              Hohl Flute 8'
Celeste 8'                            Open Diapason 8'
Open Diapason 8'                      Principal 4'
Oboe 8'
Tremolo                               Pedal:
                                      Bourdon 16'
Choir:                                Violone 16'
Clarinet 8'                           Open Diapason 16'
Dulciana 8'

Swell Octave

Berriedale Church, Caithness, Scotland 2M

ROS Bulletin of Aug'1988 contained an article by Edgar Munroe Fisher on the restoration of a Holt reed organ in Berriedale Church. At that time it had been unused for 25 years. Together with two friends he was able to return the instrument to playing condition.

Berriedale Church is an historically important building in Caithness and built in 1826 is one of 32 Parliamentary Churches commissioned and built by Thomas Telford. Berriedale Church is one of the few that remains furnished and laid out as it was originally built. Sadly it is no longer used, the last service being held in Oct'2006.

Chris Hampson found some further details from the church officials in 2017 and confirmed that the organ is still there. Photographs show the following general specification.

Swell:                   Great:
??                       ??
??                       ?? 
??                       ??
??                       ??
Tremulant                Sub Bass 16'

Swell Octave
Swell to Great

2x knee swells
2x treadles


Another 2MP with 32' pedal stop

Another 2MP with a 32' pedal stop was noted in the same Musical Opinion article December 1935 [224]. It had the following specification.

Swell:                     Great:
Bourdon 16'                Open Diapason 16'
Lieblich 8'                Diapason 8'
Gamba 8'                   Dulciana 8'
Salicional 8'              Principal 4'
Cornopean 8'
Gemshorn 4'                Pedal:
Tremulant                  Bourdon 16' (derived)
                           Open Diapason 16'
Couplers:                  Double Diapason 32'
Swell suboctave
Swell superoctave
Great superoctave

Double swell box above the console

Lind Road Primitive Methodist Church 2MP/15

A letter from A.N. Matthews to The Organ, Oct'1962 mentioned a large Holt with a pipe front that he maintained and played at the time in Sutton, Surrey. He noted that it had 13 full ranks of reeds and two half ranks, making 809 reeds in total. It had the usual RCO layout, a single balanced Swell pedal and folding glass doors to the console. It also had a pipe front.

An Echo Diapason had been added to this instrument around 1944. This was playable from the Swell manual and controlled by stop keys under the music desk. R.D. Clements, who added this stop, replied in the April 1963 edition of The Organ. He stated that it had been a standard Holt reed organ up until that time, but that for such a small church they required very quiet stops, and the Swell Lieblich was too loud for the Communion. He had an old American organ which he dismantled and added to the Holt, with keys connected by fine wires. He placed the new wind chest above the original action. It was enclosed in a box of thick wood with a flap at the back controlled by the existing swell pedal.

In addition to the wind chest, Mr. Clements also incorporated the reservoir from the old organ and connected it to the Holt wind trunk which was supplied by a Discus blower. He placed a knob on the left stop jamb by which the pressure could be regulated between about 1'' and 3'' water gauge.

Mr. Matthews finally also notes that the power of this instrument was more than adequate for a small church seating 100 people.

Dr. Marmaduke Conway's 2MP/9

A 2MP was noted in Musical Opinion August 1934. This had 4 ranks on Swell and Great and one for the Pedal.

Rev. Dr. G. Sydenham Holmes 2MP/17

This instrument was second hand when bought by Dr. Holmes in 1934 as a practice instrument for his rectory. It was however later in the small church in Northolt. He described it [102] as having the following specification:

2x 61 note manuals
30 note pedalboard

Swell:                         Great:
Contra Gamba 16'               Dulciana 8'
Lieblicht Gedackt 8'           Hohl Flute 8'
Violin Diapason 8'             Diapason 8' (large scale)
Echo Gamba 8'                  Principal 4' (enclosed)
Voix Celeste 8'                Clarinet 8' (enclosed)
Gemshorn 4'                    Trumpet 8' (enclosed)
Cornopean 8'
Tremulant                      Pedal:
                               Double Diapason 32'
Couplers:                      Open Diapason 16' (large scale)
Great-Pedal                    Bourdon 16'
Swell-Pedal                    Contra Fagotto 16' (very soft)
Great Octave
Swell Octave

2x composition pedals to each of Great and Swell
Great-Pedal on/ off pedal
2x balanced swell pedals
external Discus 3/4 HP blower

Several changes had been made to this instrument since it was originally built, mostly at Dr. Holmes' instigation. He had the 32' pedal stop installed instead of a Trombone 16' which had been there previously. He had the Great Trumpet and Clarinet enclosed in a swell box, and explains that this meant the Principal was also enclosed for structural reasons. This is also true of a number of the instruments listed here. He later had a loud speaker installed on the west wall of the church with a microphone, amplifier and control box inside the organ to give a stronger effect to support the singing of his 130 strong congregation. They must have been more enthusiastic singers than the ones in Lind Road!

Holt 3MP/15 number 1544

This instrument, formerly unknown, appeared for sale on e-Bay July 2011. I contacted the seller to ask for more details and Ian Ball visited to play it and assess the condition. It was located in St. Peter's Masonic Lodge, Yenton Assembly Rooms, Erdington, Birmingham B23. From the case style and some of the stop names, we thought that this instrument was made in 1935 or slightly later. It is actually quite similar to the practice instrument of Dr. Sydenham Holmes. It is also almost identical in style to the one illustrated in the Oxford Dictionary of Music, but with an extra manual.

The serial number and date was confirmed by Dominik Gückel who purchased the instrument and moved it to his home in Stuttgart. The internal maker's label is numbered 1544, signed by John W. Holt and dated 3/5/1935. The same number is stamped on the woodwork internally.

3x 61 note manuals
30 note pedals
21 stops

Swell:                            Great:
Octave                            Octave
Tremulant                         Clarinet 8'
Trumpet 8'                        Principal 4'
Gemshorn 4'                       Claribel Flute 8'
Hohl Flute 8'                     Double Diapason 16'
Echo Gamba 8'                     Dulciana 8'
Contra Salicional 16'             Swell to Great
Voix Celeste 8'
Couplers:                         Bourdon 16'
Swell to Pedal                    Open Diapason 16'
Great to Pedal                    Violone 16'
                                  Sub Bass 32'

balanced swell pedal
two combination pedals
external blower


This specification is very strange in that it contains absolutely no reference to the so called Solo manual. It also has only one swell pedal rather than two. Ian's picture of the console clarifies that the top manual is indeed ``prepared'' but has no stops. It also shows that the instrument has previously been maintained by Ward and Shutt, organ builders of Stoke-on-Trent.


Along with the photos, Ian sent me the following note: although mildewed and unloved, it was in every way superior to my R&D Apollo. The action was less spongey and the voicing superior, with particularly fine Trumpet, Clarinet and Hohl Flute stops, and a luxurious pedal division (very powerful in tutti) with the most beautiful purring 32'.

David Liddle's 2MP (1935)

David Aprahamian Liddle is a blind concert organist who has used this Holt as a practice instrument. This is what he told me about it.

I understand it was built for a 14 year old boy in Mansfield in 1935 who wanted it to look like a pipe organ; it was then bought by a Mr. Jeffery, a dentist in Devon; and I bought it in 1976. In 1987 it was thoroughly restored by Geoff Fanner, a brilliant blind man, with assistance from Phil and Pam Fluke. Unfortunately, it does not get played much nowadays.

Having dug out my old Braille diaries, I discover that I acquired my Holt 2-manual reed organ in 1975, from a Mr. R.C. Jeffery, a dentist in Cullompton, Devon. Mr. Foster (I presume Charles Foster) came to our house in North London and set it all up for me in about Sep'1975. I imagine therefore that details of it would be recorded in Charles Foster's paperwork of 1975. I wonder how accessible these papers are, now that the Flukes no longer run their museum?

It has a very smart Greek key pattern and roses carved round the top edge on three sides. The Violone 8' was originally another 16', but I had it converted into an 8' thanks to Geoff Fanner and the Flukes.

2x 61 note manuals
30 note pedals

Swell:                       Great:               
Tremulant                    Clarinet 8'          
Cornopian 8'                 Dulciana 8'          
Gemshorn 4'                  Principal 4'         
Lieblich Gedackt 8'          Clarabella 8'        
Echo Gamba 8'                Open Diapason 8'     
Bourdon 16'                                       
Voix Celeste 8'              Pedal:               
                             Violone 8'           
Couplers:                    Bourdon 16' (derived)
Swell Octave                 Open Diapason 16'    
Swell to Great
Great Octave
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal

- Two composition pedals operating on Great and Pedal stops; 
- Balanced Swell pedal in standard central position; 
- A little weight hanging on a cord to indicate level of bellows.

There is no provision for hand pumping, and I believe it always was electrically exhausted.


Note that this instrument is very similar in appearance to the one illustrated in Percy Scholes' Oxford Companion to Music p885 [158].

Fritz Gellerman DB entry 3725 2MP/15

This is a large 2MP Holt, probably still in Germany. It was sold via e-Bay in 2003 from a German owner. Some information was provided by Claus Seiler.

It was claimed to be a pressure instrument and has 15 ranks of reeds. The specification is given and interpreted from the photographs as follows:

2x 61 note Manuals CC-c'''. 
30 note pedalboard CC-f.

Swell:                        Great:
Cornopean 8'                  Principal 4'
Gemshorn 4'                   Echo Flute 8' (derived)
Salicional 8'                 Hohl Flute 8'
Vox Celeste 8'                Dulciana 8'
Lieblich Gedeck 8'            Diapason 8'
Contre Gambe 16'              Violoncello 16' 
Tremulant                     ???
                              Clarinet 8'
Couplers:                     Hautboy 8' (derived)
Swell Octave                  
Great Octave                  Pedal:
Swell to Great                Dulciana 16'
Swell to Pedal                Violone 16'
Great to Pedal                Bourdon 16' (derived)
                              Open Diapason 16'

Balanced Swell pedal.
Four combination pedals: 
  forte and piano combinations for each of Great and Swell.

rfg-3725.jpg 1_Manubrien_links.jpg 2_Manubrien_rechts.jpg

The style of case on this instrument, e.g. as compared to the one shown in the Oxford Dictionary of Music and Marmaduke Conway's organ, suggest it is c.1935 or slightly later (given the high upper windchest). However the Holt catalogue of c.1929 shows an instrument of this model and notes that it has specially large bellows. It is referred to as Model A, Specification No.7.

I note the few ``borrowed'' stops on this organ. It was thought to be actually quite rare that Holts did not give every stop its own rank of reeds, but I have found a few which are commonly met with such as the Great Dulciana 8' which is derived from the Hohl Flute 8'. However it would be particularly rare on pressure instruments. I attempt to document this in Section 10.3 but some conclusions are still speculative. Personally I believe that Holts were no different from any other reed organ builder in this respect, but used them judiciously.

Dr. Marmaduke Conway's 2MP/18

A second 2MP owned by Dr. Conway was noted in Musical Opinion December 1935 [34]. He wrote a letter to Holts on 23/10/1935 expressing his pleasure in having this instrument [69]. The specification given is:

2 manuals
25 stops

Swell:                             Great:
Echo Bourdon 16'                   Violone 16'
Lieblich Gedackt 8'                Dulciana 8'
Violin Diapason 8'                 Hohl Flute 8'
Echo Gamba 8'                      Geigen 8'
Voix Celeste 8'                    Large Diapason 8'
Flute 4'                           Wald Flute 4'
Gemshorn 4'                        Principal 4'
Cornopean 8'
Couplers:                          Open Diapason 16'
Great-Pedal                        Bourdon 16' (derived)
Swell-Pedal                        Salicional 16'
Swell-Great                        Violoncello 8'
Great Octave                       Solo Flute 4'
Swell Octave

2x double acting combination pedals to great and 2x to swell
balanced swell pedal for each manual
3/4 HP Discus blower
solid oak case 5'9'' wide, 3'3'' deep, 5' 1/2'' high

The Pedal Solo Flute must have been very useful - I used to use Great Principal connected to Pedal for certain Bach passages.

Rev. Dr. G. Sydenham Holmes 3MP/27 (1936-7)

This organ was built under the direction of John Willy Holt. It is described in letters from Dr. Holmes to Musical Opinion, Dec'1936, Jan'1937 [103] and July 1937 [104]. The latter contains the specification and explanation given below. It is also described in an article in MO March 1963 and is said to be the second largest Holt built (Dr. Conway's being the largest). The July 1937 article also shows a photograph of the console, which is very similar to Conway's 3MP/27 shown below.

Holmes was priest and organist at St. John the Evangelist in Upper Norwood, London from around 1920-36. He became rector of Northolt, Middlesex in or before 1939. Perhaps he could no longer accommodate such a large instrument for his personal use. He died in 1946. [he was writing from Northolt Rectory on 16/6/37 has now been installed in my small church in Northolt] The organ was later owned by T.A.W. Gifford at Chillington Hall, Staffordshire who had bought it second hand from Holts in 1938 [is this date correct?]. This is the one that was sold to the Bishop of Worcester, removed to Hereford and re-built by Michel Jacot.

Michel Jacot himself told me he had restored this very large 3MP Holt at Chillington Hall, Wolverhampton which he later installed in the residence of a retired bishop in Hereford.

What happened to it later? I was told via David Liddle that it was moved to the Cathedral Choir School.

3 manuals
39 stops

Swell:                             Pedal:
Violin Diapason 8'                 Double Diapason 32'
Lieblich Gedact 8'                 Open Diapason 16'
Echo Gamba 8'                      Bourdon 16' (derived)
Celeste (sharp) 8'                 Salicional 16'
Gemshorn 4'                        Violoncello 8'
Flute 4'                           Trombone 16'
Contra Fagotto 16'                 Solo Flute 4'
Horn 8'                            Great-Pedal
Tremulant                          Swell-Pedal
Swell Octave                       Choir-Pedal

Choir:                             Great:
Contra Dulciana 16'                Double Diapason 16'
Claribel Flute 8'                  Open Diapason I 8'
Dulciana 8'                        Open Diapason II 8'
Vox Angelica (flat) 8'             Wald Flute 8'
Suabe Flute 4'                     Principal (encl) 4'
Clarinet 8'                        Fifteenth 2'
Tremulant                          Trumpet (encl) 8'
Swell-Choir                        Swell-Great
Choir Octave                       Choir-Great
                                   Great Octave

3 balanced swell pedals: Choir, Great (Principal and Trumpet), Swell
5 composition pedals
dark stained oak case 6' wide, 3' deep, 6'3'' high
Discus blower

Dr. Holmes noted that the Pedal Trombone stop was added prior to the end of 1936. This was done by by replacing the Choir reservoir with an extra channel for the reeds which were mounted upside down. The Double Diapason 32', Open Diapson 16' and Trombone 16' were thus all large scale ranks.

We see again the Solo Flute and the important appearance of a Great Fifteenth.


The Pedal Trombone 16' with large scale reeds was added at the end of 1936 to supplement the original specifcation. A wind channel was substituted for the Choir reservoir and the reeds installed in an inverted wind chest. The Open Diapason 16' and Double Diapason 32' were also of large scale, and this was the first time that Holts had installed three such stops in one organ.

The Choir division was also enlarged at this time. It was said to be less brilliant and more reposeful than the Swell overall.

To comment on some features: such stops as the Dulciana and Vox Angelica on the Choir are extraordinarily delicate and pleasing, as are the Echo Gamba and Céleste on the Swell. The contrast in coming from the Swell Céleste (which is tuned sharp) to the Choir Vox Angelica (which is tuned flat) may be described as reposeful. The flute stops are sweet and full in character - they sound extremely like good pipe organ flutes - the various ``reeds'' are characteristic, and the Great Diapason I (large reeds), though not loud, posesses a ``body'' which is very satisfying, giving a fullness of tone when used with other stops, while the second Diapason is brighter and keener.

The Great to fifteenth sounds very weighty and telling, and the Trumpet, when added, is extremely effective. The Swell organ is what one would expect from a well designed and constructed organ, while the same may be said of the Choir and Pedal organs. The range of tonal combinations and effects are as numerous and satisfactory as on a pipe organ of similar specification, from soft delicate stops and pleasing contrasts of tone to the full organ, which in its own way is quite ``cathedral like''. In fact, my expectations of the usefulness and scope of such an organ have been more than realised. With regard to the Pedal department, this, as will be seen, is pretty complete; to mention most of the stops - the Violoncello is full, strong and characteristic, the Trombone is a bright heavy reed, the Salicional a very soft bright stop, the Diapason bold and heavy, and the 32' gives an effect which is most satisfying both with full organ and with quite soft combinations.

Dr. Marmaduke Conway's 3MP/27, ROS Database entry 407 (1938)

This Holt, serial number 1554, build under the direction of John Willy Holt and signed by him, dates from 16/9/1938 and is a very large organ, one of the largest ever built and probably the largest by Holts (but see above). It is also possibly the last one built by the firm after the Second World War. It has three manuals and a soundboard with swell opening high up above the performer's head. It was built for Dr. Marmaduke Percial Conway (b.1885-d.1961), who was organist of Ely Cathedral from 1931 until 1949 [35]. Conway had a great empathy for reed organs and he suggested some of the special refinements himself. There is an article praising his other 2MP instruments in Musical Opinion [34]. Conway actually owned three Holt organs, an earlier one being a 2MP/9 as noted in a Musical Opinion article of August 1934 and another 2MP described in his longer article [34]. He sold his second 2MP when he bought number 1554 which he owned until his retirement in 1949.


I played this 3MP organ briefly on 16th February 2003 at the Saltaire Museum. It is fantastic, I wished I had a bigger house (much bigger, it measures 79'' x55'' x77'') - there is something very special about it.

3 manuals
41 stops

Swell:                         Pedal:
Tremulant                      Trombone 16'
French Horn 8'                 Solo Flute 4'
Cornopean 8'                   Octave Diapason 8'
Contra Fagotto 16'             Salicional 16'
Gemshorn 4' (derived?)         Bourdon 16' (derived)
Flute 4'                       Open Diapason 16'
Echo Gamba 8'                  Double Diapason 32'
Violin Diapason 8'             Sub Bass 32' (derived)
Lieblich Gedact 8'
Lieblich Gedact (flat) 8'      Great:
                               Trumpet (encl) 8'
Couplers:                      Fifteenth 2'
Swell Octave                   Principal (encl) 4'
Swell to Pedal                 Clarabella 8'
Swell to Great                 Geigen 8'
Great to Pedal                 Large Diapason 8'
                               Violone 16'
Choir:                         Sub Octave
Hohl Flute 8'
Clarinet 8'
Wald Flute 4'
Vox Angelica 8'
Dulciana 8'
Double Dulciana 16'

Choir Octave
Swell to Choir
Choir to Great
Choir to Pedal
3 swell pedals
6 combination pedals:
  1: Great Claribel Flute and Dulciana, Pedal Bourdon 
30 notes RCO-style pedalboard
6'5'' high x4'7'' deep x6'7'' wide

This organ, which has 1461 reeds, also features in Robert Gellerman's database number 2939 which shows an early photograph of it.


Specification of a similar but smaller ``Normal Organ'' model 15 was given above.

The specification is very interesting and sophisticated. I found the position of the couplers on the console a little odd however, making specific ones hard to find. It was however specified to be as close as possible to the Ely Cathedral pipe organ. I think they should ideally be associated with stops of the department on which they speak, e.g. Choir to Great underneath the other Great stops.

Much of the internal arrangement is quite unusual as described in Phil Fluke's article [69]. This included such things like a row of Estève harmonium reeds for the Great Large Diapason 8'. The wonderful Pedal Sub Bass 32' was described as being similar to the very large brass reeds used in the Mason and Risch vocalion, with the longest un-weighted tongue being 6 1/2 inches.

It is actually amazing that this organ has survived as Phil Fluke found it advertised in 1984 and standing in a yard behind a house in London which could not accommodate it. Another large Holt, probably the third largest built, indeed did not survive, as when Phil found it dismantled in a barn in Scotland around 1985 it proved to be beyond repair. This is briefly mentioned in ROS Bulletin of May 1986 and was said to have had 21 ranks of 1126 reeds. The owners had gone on holiday after promising the organ to the museum, but having a burst pipe during their absence the organ had been soaked in water for 3 days. [Are they actually the same?] There is still a rumour of another surviving in Gloucestershire.

This Holt number 1554 was bought by Patrick Cameron of London later in 2003 and Cambridge Reed Organs were commissioned to move it and give it a complete overhaul in May 2004. You can see photos of it being moved, dismantled and re-assembled for testing on their Web site This is a tribute to two dedicated reed organ enthusiasts and restorers! Patrick needed the room for another purpose in late 2009 so this magnificent instrument was sold to Izak Lindhout in Tholen, the Netherlands, who moved it in Mar'2010 and will carry out his own restoration.

More Pictures

[I note that the specification given by Phil and Pam Fluke in the May 1983 edition of ROS Bulletin is slightly different, but is probably the same instrument. Maybe Dr. Holmes'?]

3MP/?? in The Netherlands

Louis Huivenaar told me that there is a 3MP Holt with 22 speaking stops in The Netherlands. This must be similar to the 3MP/12 instrument recorded by the Flukes, but may have around 22 ranks of reeds.

It was in the private collection of Jan Verschoor in Hillegom. It was housed in a conservatory along with several other large instruments but was moved in early 2007 to the Barger-Compascuum Harmonium Museum Nederland.

The following information was to be kept confidential until released in the Vox Further magazine, information was sent by Frans van der Grijn. A restoration is being carried out by museum restorer Mannes Welleweerd.

Following information ©Vox Humana.

3x manuals CC-c'''
30 note concave radiating pedalboard
34 stops

Swell:                              Choir:
Tremulant                           Tremulant
Cornopean 8'                        Clarinet 8'
Gemshorn 4'                         Waldflute 4'
Vox Celeste 8'                      Dulciana 8'
Echo Gamba 8'                       Hohlflute 8'
Horn Diapason 8'                    Octave
Bourdon 16'                         Swell to Choir

Pedal:                              Great:
Bass Flute 8'                       Trumpet 8'
Salicional 16'                      Fifteenth 2'
Violone 16'                         Principal 4'
Bourdon 16'                         Clarabella 8'
Open Diapason 16'                   Small Diapason 8'
Double Diapason 32'                 Open Diapason 8'
Swell to Pedal                      Octave
Choir to Pedal                      Sub Octave
Great to Pedal                      Swell to Great
                                    Choir to Great
2x balanced swell pedals
6x combination pedals

The specification recorded is as above but I have changed the order to reflect my usual listing style which conforms to the functional grouping, so may not be exactly as on the console. This one has a Great Fifteenth, but the 4' Pedal stop is missing which I think is a shame.

It was recorded and photographed by Ivan Furlanis


The following photographs, ©Vox Humana, show this instrument just after the move. More Pictures from Museum Web site

3MP/20 in The Netherlands

Fritz noted there is also a similar instrument with no pipe top.

Sarah Harnden's 1M

I am discussing this instrument with Sarah to determine its age and provenance. The specification is: Bass Coupler, Bass Bassoon, Principle Bass, Diapason Bass, Forte, Diapason Treble, (Missing), Clarionet, Hautboy, Principle Treble

In the meantime the 1M instrument number 293 acquired by Liz Domett came to light as described above.

1M from Pausaune on e-Bay

This is another interesting 1M reed organ for sale - it had been owned by one family for most of its life.

Although not marked, it is thought to be the work of John Holt or one of his employees. It has his patent (British patent no.13,069 ) stop action and is a high class instrument which is very compact for its specification. The reed voicing is also said to be superb and in John Holt's style.

The case measures 40'' wide; 22'' deep; and 39'' high (excluding the music rest). It is of light walnut with a fretwork design on the music rest.

The stops are: Sub Bass 16', Principal 4', Bass Coupler, Viola 8', Diapason 8', Vox Humana, Forte, Treble Coupler, Clarinet 8', Melodia 8', Voix Celeste 8'.

There are also two knee levers: one general swell and one full organ - full organ can be adjusted to bring on whatever stops are desired.

I contacted the seller who said that he could find no numbers or any more information about the instrument.


1M Parlour Organ

This one appeared for sale at Wotton Aution Rooms in Mar'2016 and was mentioned to me by Rob Lucas. It only has 5 stops, but likely is 4 full ranks of reeds, Double Diapason 16', Diapason 8', Super Octave, Clarinet 8', Principal 4'.


Register of known organs by Holt.

It should be noted that because of the importance of Holt's instruments and their diversity I am listing all known to have been produced whether or not they still exist. If any were destroyed, this will be noted.

Size Date Serial Number Comments
Very Early - Upper Gough Street
1M Aug'1881 293 L.Domett, NZ
Early - ``horizontal'' stop arrangement up to 1910?
2MP     RO and H Workshop
4MP 1896   Musical Instrument Exhibition Islington; Westminster Abbey
3MP/13 c.1898   H.A.Needham, Birmingham
2MP/5 1900-5?   J.-F.Guy, Tournus, Burgundy
2MP/12 1904   S.Hammermayer, Germany sold e-Bay *3071; 2007 Markus Gottswinter, Munich
2MP/5 10/9/1907 1318 G.Underwood; M.Kasparek, France; 2009 for sale
2MP/5 1909   A.Cooper
2MP/5     Camborne Methodist Church, Cornwall; 1950 Mr.Penberthy, Hayle; Feb'2010 e-Bay *5938
Middle - ``diagonal'' stop arrangement
2MP/9 1910?   W.Kamp
3MP 1916   Bangour Village Hospital (later Edinburgh War Hospital); later history unknown *
2MP c.1916   Y.Bowen
2MP c.1916   Y.Bowen
2MP c.1917   Mr.H.J.Haviland, maybe same as above
2MP 1918   R.Pacey, Lincolnshire (? info from B.Styles); 2008 for sale
2MP/10 19/2/1920 1434 Polegate; sold e-Bay *2945 Dec'2016
3MP/20 1921   RFG-2940, in The Netherlands
3MP/20     another in The Netherlands
    c.1922-27 ``5IT'' BBC Birmingham broadcasting station
2MP/10 1922 1454 Dr.Bradshaw, Christchurch, NZ
2MP 1923 1463 St.John's Presbyterian Church, Lyttleton, NZ *
2MP 1923 1465 Hamilton, NZ
2MP/13 1923   Offenbach, Germany; sold e-Bay Aug'2015;
2MP/12 1925   ROS-3818, Presbyterian Church, Dunedin; Pahiatua Methodist, NZ; Brian Collet's house; Woodville Organ Museum, NZ *
3MP (2MP ?) 1925 1471 St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Stratford; then private residence Lower Hutt, NZ *
3MP 1925 1472 NZ; destroyed to make a 4MP electronic
2MP 1925 1473 Ferrymead Historic Park, Christchurch, NZ
2MP 1925 1474 unknown
2MP/9 1925 1476 Christadelphian Hall, Gloucester; e-Bay *7634 June 2012; C.Hampson
2MP 1925 1477 Palmerston North, NZ
3MP 1926?   Lansdowne House; 1946 Knowle UR Church
3MP/23 1926 1479 Anglican church, NZ; in storage; Otaki College, NZ; Bill Gordon's shed; Ashurst; Woodville Organ Museum, NZ
2MP 1927 1495 NZ, destroyed to make an electronic
2MP 1928 1502  
2MP/11 1929 1509 Dr.Bradshaw, Christchurch, now Auckland, NZ
2MP/7 1931? 1518 E.Lukasek, Palo Alto, California, USA
2MP/? 1931   ROS-2676
2MP/8 1931 7? ROS DB 2676 roll player (?)
2MP/8 1933 1532 2005 M.Bennett, Wirral; 2014 M.Walker, Norfolk
2MP/9 c.1934   Dr.M.Conway
1M/5 1934   Aston Subedge; 1985 Saintbury Church, Glos.; overhauled by I.Thompson 2002
2MP/11 1935? 1542 J.Dodd, High Hill, Essington; Allens Rough Methodist Church Sunday School; A.D.Jones; I.J.Smith; 2001 for sale
3MP/15 3/5/1935 1544 Masonic Temple, Yenton Rooms, Erdington; 2011 D.Gückel, Stuttgart *
2MP/18 c.1935   Dr. M.Conway
3MP/21     P.Fluke saw the remains of this which was another very large instrument
2MP/12     Edgebaston, Birmingham Uni Chaplaincy; 2004 sold
2MP/17     Dr.S.Holmes
Late - ``neo-classical'' case style with straight fluted sides, c.1935
2MP/12     Nettlestone Hill Methodist Church, IoW (note from I.Thompson 1986)
2MP/12     Catholic Chaplaincy, Edgbaston (note from I.Thompson 1986)
2MP/11     NPOR survey 1934 Station Rd. Baptist Church, Finchley; later history unknown
2MP/15     c.1962 Lind Road Methodist Church, Sutton, Surrey
3MP/22     Hillegom, The Netherlands; 2007 Dutch Harmonium Museum
2MP c.1935   photo in Oxford Dictionary of Music
2MP 1935   Mansfield; Devon; 1976 D.A.Liddle, N.London
3MP/27 1937   Dr.S.Holmes, Norwood; later Chillington Hall, Wolverhampton
4MP 1938   ??
3MP/27 1938 1554 Dr.M.Conway; Saltaire Museum; 2003 P.Cameron, London; 2009 I.Lindhout, Netherlands
Still TBD
2MP     RFG-2938
1M     RFG-2941
2MP/15     RFG-3725 in Germany?
2MP/10     noted by I.Thompson
3MP/12     noted by the Flukes
2MP     Berriedale Church, Caithness
2MP/6     ROS-3537, St. Leonards, Hatfield
1M     Sarah Harnden
2MP c.1910   a UR church in Surrey; P.Moore (York Minster); G.Morgan; I.Stewart, Basildon.
2MP     NPOR ?
2MP     near Burgh le Marsh, Lincs. seen by R.Pacey
2MP     Stoneham Road Baptist Church Hove, played by T.Newnham c.1966
2M     Winchelsea Methodist Church played by T.Newnham early 1980s
2MP     K.Johnson 2017
      Thorington, Suffolk mentioned by B.Edmonds
      St. Michael and All Angels, Martin Hussingtree, Worcs.*
      St. Nicholas, Beaudesert, Henley-in-Arden, NPOR SP1566 *
      St. Catherine de Barnes, Solihull *
      Harborne Young Men's Bible Assoc., Harborne *
      Sir Josiah Mason's Orphanage, Erdington *
      Assy. Hall of George Dixon School, City Road, Birmingham *
      Nautical Training School, Heswall *
      Eastville Church, Boston *
      All Saints, Steetly, Workshop *
      Heanton Church, Braunton *
      Lanteglos by Fowey Church *
      Weslyan Church, Kenilworth *
      Weslyan Church, Prestwood *
      Weslyan Sunday School, Whitwell nr. Mansfield *
      Weslyan Sunday School, Brunswick, Pendleton *
      Weslyan Sunday School, Astley Bridge, Bolton
      Chapel of the Star and Garter Home for Disabled Soldiers and Sailors, Richmond *
      Congregational Church, Four Lane Ends, Blackburn *
      Congregational Church, Bishop's Castle, Salop *
      Congregational Church, Philiphaugh, Selkirk *
      Congregational Church, Crawley *
      Congregational Church, Brynton, nr. Swansea *
      Old Chapel, Maenclochog *
      Welse Weslayan Chapel, Mountain Ash *
      First Prebyterian Church, Greyabbey *
      Woolston Mission, Warrington *
      Risley Independent Methodist Church, Fearhnead, Warrington *
      St. Andrew's Mission, Smethwich *
      Bridgend Chapel *
      Pentre Chapel *
      Maiden Bradley Chapel *
      Primitive Methodist Church, Ackworth, nr. Pontefract. *
      Primitive Methodist Church, Castleford *
      Primitive Methodist Church, Egremont *
      Primitive Methodist Church, Moor Road, Chorley *
      Baptist Church, Finchley Church End, Finchley *
      Baptist Chapel, Oldbury *
      Baptist Church, Crawley *
      Baptist Church, Lossiemouth *
      Baptist Church, Tiercross *
      Ebenezer Baptist Church, St. Peter's Lane, Leicester *
      Bethany English Baptist Chapel, Waunarlydd, Gowerton *
      Zion Baptist Church, St. Clears *
      Ballymackey Church, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary *
      Catholic Church, Mullinahoe, Co. Tipperary *
      Catholic Church, Wolverton *
      Port Brillet Church, Brillet, France *
      Estrees Church, France *
      Popyan Church, South America *
      Bahia Church, Brazil *
      Archbishop, Santo Domingo, West Indies *
      Christchurch Pro-Cathedral, Lagos, Nigeria *
      Presbyterian Church, Penang, Federated Malay States *
      Serembak Church, Federated Malay States *
      Church at Kuala Lumpur, Federated Malay States *
      Baptist Church, Calcutta *
      Université Laval, Quebec, Canada *
      Church of England, Geraldton, W. Australia *
2MP     Presbyterian Church, Temuka, New Zealand *
      Baptist Church, Ashburton, New Zealand *
      Darfield Church, New Zealand *
      St. John's, Westfort, New Zealand *
      Methodist Church, Eltham, New Zealand *
      Chapel of Girl's School, Havelock North, New Zealand *
      Masonic Hall, Wellington, New Zealand *
3MP     Masonic Temple, Christchurch, New Zealand *
2MP     Anglican Cathedral, Christchurch, New Zealand *
      Masonic Lodge, Budleigh Salterton *
      Masonic Lodge, Leighton Buzzard *
      Masonic Lodge, Derby *
      St. Faith's, Harborne *
      J.W.Beaufort, Solihull *
      ? Farm Street R.C. (Immaculate Conception), Mayfair, London *

Key: * indicates information is taken from original Holt publications or other historical source, in some cases current status of this instrument is unknown.

Styles and Specifications of Holt Organs

A brochure exists in French showing a number of typical models as advertised at the time. [Note about the French brochure... and Web site.]

The John Holt Normal Organ

Normal Organ Model 7: 2MP/5-7


This is a relatively small instrument from the French brocure, probably with conventional soundboard layout. Probably 7 ranks, but maybe only five, see the entry on Andrew Cooper's instrument.

Normal Organ Model 15: 3MP/22

Specification of this 3MP organ model 15, which was available for sale at the time of the French brochure for FF 6,500, is given below. Recitals on an Orgue Normal were given monthly by well known organists in the Salle de la Procure, 24 Rue Jeanne d'Arc, Arras.

Grand:                          Pedalier:
Flute 8                         Bombarde 32
Petite Flute 8                  Soubasse 16
Clarabella 8                    Bourdon 16
Trompette 8                     Violoncelle 16
Principal 4                     Flute 8
Quintaton 2
Recit:                          Recit-Grand
Bourdon 16                      Positif-Grand
Flute 8                         Grand-Pedale
Salicional 8                    Recit-Pedale
Voix Celeste 8                  Positif-Pedale
Basson 8                        Grand super octave
Hautbois 8                      Recit super octave
Cornet 4
                                Pedales de combinations:
Positif:                        A Grand Jeux Grand+Pedals
Flute d'Amour 8                 B Petit Jeux Grand+Pedals (sans 32')
Dulciana 8                      C Grand Jeux Recit                
Clarinette 8                    D Petit Jeux Recit
Fifre 8                         E Grand-Pedale

Thanks to Jason Fisher and Dominik Gückel for some of the following pictures from the Holt catalogues.

Model 7:


John Holt Catalogue c.1929

The following description of the basic styles and specifications available for Holt instruments is taken from the catalogue c.1929 [212]. There were however many variations on these made to order for Holt's customers.

Case Styles

high top with large bellows as described below - 6'10''h x3'0''d x5'6''w
ditto with pipe top - 8'6''h x3'0''d x6'2''-6'5''w
low height but wide case to accomodate improved action - 6'10''h x3'0''d x6'2''-6'5''w
low height narrow case - 5'0''h x2'10''-3'0''d x5'3''-5'6''w

Model 7A:


This organ is built on the same lines as the 3MP organs and is provided with especially large bellows of ample capacity. It is readily and easily erected and taken down for transport. It also permits the addition of a 32' stop.


Class 1B 1M/4
Class 2B 1M/5
Class 3B 1M/6
Class 4B 2M/7
Class 5B 2M/11
Model 1 2MP/5
Model 2 2MP/6
Model 3 2MP/7
Model 4 2MP/8
Model 5 2MP/9
Model 6 2MP/12
Model 7 2MP/12-15
Model 8 3MP/14-20
Model 9 3MP/18-20
Model 15 3MP/22

Model 8B:


Model 7D:


The Oxford Dictionary of Music, plate 149(7) shows a 2MP reed organ said to be English, 1935. This is probably a model 7D.


Specification Class 1B: 1M/4

Basic price £68. Double Diapason 16', Diapason 8', Clarinet 8', Principal 4', Super Octave plus full organ knee lever, crescendo knee lever and 2x treadles.

Specification Class 2B: 1M/5

Basic price £83. Bourdon 16', Open Diapason 8' (large scale reeds), Dulciana 8', Clarinet 8', Principal 4', Super Octave Coupler plus full organ knee lever, crescendo knee lever and 2x treadles.

Specification Class 3B: 1M/6

Basic price £90. Double Diapason 16', Diapason 8', Dulciana 8', Voix Celeste 8', Clarinet 8', Principal 4', Super Octave Coupler plus full organ knee lever, crescendo knee lever and 2x treadles.

Options: sub octave instead of super octave.

Specification Class 4B: 2M/7

Basic price £145.

Swell:             Great:
Bourdon 16'        Diapason 8'
Gamba 8'           Dulciana 8'
Cornopean 8'       Principal 4'
Flute 4'           

Swell to Great
Great Super Octave

crescendo knee lever for Swell
full organ lever for Great
2x treadles
hand blowing lever

1. add a borrowed stop on Great -> Diapason, Dulciana, Clarinet, Principal;
2. octave coue
pler on Swell; 3. extra row of Great reeds -> Diapason, Dulcinana, Clarinet, Principal;
4. extra scale ``E'' reeds to Great making same as spec 5B;
5. sub bass to Great with octave of low reeds.

Specification Class 5B: 2M/11

Basic price £200.

Swell:             Great:
Bourdon 16'        Open Diapason 8'
Lieblich Gedact 8' Hohl Flute 8'
Echo Gamba 8'      Dulciana 8'
Voix Celeste 8'    Clarinet 8'
Cornopean 8'       Principal; 4'
Gemshorn 4'           

Swell to Great
Great Octave
Swell Octave

crescendo knee lever for sewll
full organ lever for great
2x treadles
hand blowin lever

1. tremulant to Swell.

Specification number 1: 2MP/5

Basic price £145.

2x 61 note manuals, 30 note pedals. 
weight 4cwt

Swell:                   Great:
Oboe 8'                  Diapason 8'
Flute 4'                 Dulciana 8'

Couplers:                Pedal:
Swell to Great           Open Diapason 16'
Great to Pedal           Bourdon 16' (derived)
Swell to Pedal

balanced swell pedal
one treadle plus hand pump

1. octave coupler to great or swell, sub octave coupler also available;
2. tremulant to swell;
3. borrowed soft stop on Great -> Hohl Flute 8', Diapason 8', Dulciana 8' (derived).

Specification number 2: 2MP/6

Basic price £155.

2x 61 note manuals, 30 note pedals. 
weight 4cwt

Swell:                   Great:
Bourdon 16'              Diapason 8'
Oboe 8'                  Dulciana 8'
Gemshorn 4'

Couplers:                Pedal:
Swell to Great           Open Diapason 16'
Great to Pedal           Bourdon 16' (derived)
Swell to Pedal

balanced swell pedal
one treadle plus hand pump

Specification number 3: 2MP/7

Basic price £167.

2x 61 note manuals, 30 note pedals. 
weight 4cwt

Swell:                   Great:
Bourdon 16'              Diapason 8'
Oboe 8'                  Dulciana 8'
Flute 4'                 Principal 4'

Couplers:                Pedal:
Swell to Great           Open Diapason 16'
Great to Pedal           Bourdon 16' (derived)
Swell to Pedal

balanced swell pedal
one treadle plus hand pump

1. octave coupler to great or swell, sub octave coupler also available;
2. tremulant to swell;
3. borrowed soft stop on Great -> Hohl Flute 8', Diapason 8', Dulciana 8' (derived).

Specification number 4: 2MP/8

Basic price £183.

2x 61 note manuals, 30 note pedals. 
weight 4cwt

Swell:                   Great:
Bourdon 16'              Diapason 8'
Gamba 8'                 Dulciana 8'
Cornopean 8'             Principal 4'  
Gemshorn 4'

Couplers:                Pedal:
Swell to Great           Open Diapason 16'
Great to Pedal           Bourdon 16' (derived)
Swell to Pedal
Great Octave

balanced swell pedal
one treadle plus hand pump

A. Voix Celeste 8' instead of Bourdon or Cornopean;
B. Lieblich Gedact 8' instead of Gamba.

1. octave coupler to great or swell, sub octave coupler also available;
2. tremulant to swell;
3. borrowed soft stop on Great -> Diapason 8', Dulcianan 8', Clarinet 8', Principal 4';
4. 2x combination pedals (i) Dulciana + Bourdon, (ii) full Great and Pedal.

Specification number 5: 2MP/9

Basic price £200.

2x 61 note manuals, 30 note pedals. 
4 1/4 cwt

Swell:                   Great:
Bourdon 16'              Diapason 8'
Gamba 8'                 Dulciana 8'
Cornopean 8'             Clarinet 8'  
Gemshorn 4'              Principal 4'

Couplers:                Pedal:
Swell to Great           Open Diapason 16'
Great to Pedal           Bourdon 16' (derived)
Swell to Pedal
Great Octave
Swell Octave

balanced swell pedal
one treadle plus hand pump

Lieblich Gedact instead of Gamba.

1. one row of large scale ``E'' reeds on Great making 5 rows: Open Diapason 8', Hohl Flute 8', Dulciana 8', Clarinet 8', Principal 4';
2. 2x composition pedals: Dulciana and Bourdon, (ii) full Great and Pedal;
3. double acting pedal for Great-Pedal;
4. larger bellows in a wider case.

Specification number 6: 2MP/12

Basic price £245.

2x 61 note manuals, 30 note pedals. 
6-1/2 cwt

Swell:                   Great:
Bourdon 16'              Open Diapason 8'
Lieblich Gedact 8'       Clarabella 8'
Echo Gamba 8'            Dulciana 8'
Voix Celeste 8'          Clarinet 8'  
Cornopean 8'             Principal 4'
Gemshorn 4'

Couplers:                Pedal:
Swell to Great           Open Diapason 16'
Great to Pedal           Bourdon 16' (derived)
Swell to Pedal
Great Octave
Swell Octave

balanced swell pedal
one treadle plus hand pump

1. tremulant on swell;
2. 2x composition pedals: Clarabella, Dulciana and Bourdon, (ii) full Great and Pedal;
3. double acting pedal for Great-Pedal;
4. larger bellows in a wider case.

Specification number 7: 2MP/12-15

Basic price £335.

2x 61 note manuals, 30 note pedals. 
Weight between 8 and 9-1/2 cwt depending on style.

Swell:                      Great:
Bourdon 16'                 Diapason 8' (enlarged scale)
Lieblich Gedacht 8'         Hohl Flute 8'
Echo Gamba 8'               Dulciana 8'
Voix Celeste 8'             Clarinet 8'
Gemshorn 4'                 Principal 4'

Couplers:                   Pedal:
Swell to Great              Open Diapason 16'
Great to Pedal              Bourdon 16' (derived)
Swell to Pedal              Violone 16'
Great Octave
Swell Octave

balanced swell pedal
composition pedal 1: Great Hohl Flute and Dulciana plus Pedal Bourdon
composition pedal 2: full Great and Pedal
composition pedal 3 (optional): Lieblich Gedact, Echo Gamba and Voix
composition pedal 4 (optional): full Swell minus Voix Celeste
double acting pedal (optional): Great to Pedal coupler

A: Violoncello 8' in place of Violoncello 16'
B: soft Bourdon 16' instead of Violoncello and playing on both Great (borrowed) and Pedal

1: extra pedal rank of 8' or 16'
2: extra pedal rank of 32'
3: extra Great rank of 16', 8', 4' or 2' (latter 4' only for top octave)
4: Swell Tremulant

Specification number 8: 3MP/14-20

Basic price £415.

Swell:                      Great:
Bourdon 16'                 Diapason 8'
Gamba 8'                    Clarabella 8'
Cornopean 8'                Trumpet 8'
Gemshorn 4'                 Principal 4'
Choir:                      Open Diapason 16'
Hohl Flute 8'               Bourdon 16' (derived)
Dulciana 8'                 Violone 16'
Clarinet 8'
Fulte 4'

Swell to Great
Choir to Great
Swell to Choir
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Choir to Pedal
Great Octave
Swell Octave

balanced swell pedal
composition pedal 1: Clarabella and Bourdon
composition pedal 2: full Great and Pedal

1: additional large scale Open Diapason 8' on Great (original re-named Small Diapason 8')
2: two extra 8' ranks on Swell instead of Tremulant (same specification as number 9)
3: extra pedal rank of 8' or 16' [check]
4: extra pedal rank of 32' [check]
5: extra Great rank of 16', 8', 4' or 2' (latter 4' only for [check] top octave)
6: Swell Tremulant [check]
7: ivory keys

Specification number 9: 3MP/18-20

Basic price £485.

Swell:                      Great:
Bourdon 16'                 Diapason 8' (enlarged reeds)
Horn Diapason 8'            Small Diapason 8'
Echo Gamba 8'               Clarabella 8'
Voix Celeste 8'             Trumpet 8'
Cornopean 8'                Principal 4'
Gemshorn 4'
Choir:                      Open Diapason 16'
Hohl Flute 8'               Bourdon 16' (derived)
Dulciana 8'                 Violone 16'
Clarinet 8'                 Bass Flute 4'
Wald Fulte 4'

Swell to Great
Choir to Great
Swell to Choir
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Choir to Pedal
Great Octave
Swell Octave

balanced swell pedal
composition pedal 1: Small Diapason , Clarabella and Bourdon
composition pedal 2: full Great and Pedal
composition pedal 3: Horn Diapason, Echo Gamba dn Voix Celeste
composition pedal 4: full Swell except Voix Celeste
double acting pedal for Great to Pedal

A: substitute a soft Bourdon 16' for the Violone or Bass Flute giving also a Great Bourdon 16' (borrowed)

1: 32' stop in place of Violone
5: extra Great rank of 16', 8', 4' or 2' (latter 4' only for [check] top octave)
6: additional Pedal Double Diapason 32'
7: Swell Tremulant

Known Instruments

In the table below, we attempt to match known instruments from the register to the published styles and specifications.

Specification Standard Style A Style B Style C Style D
1 J.-F.Guy, Paris; no.1318; S.Leonard's, Hatfield; A.Cooper; Pemberty, Hayle        
3 no.1518        
4 no.1532; ROS-2676        
5 Gloucester     W.Kamp, Norway; Hebden Bridge no.1434 (with option E)
6 no.1509; I.Smith   no.1479    
7   Germany      
8   Knowle Netherlands   no.1544
9   Netherlands      
15   Woodville, NZ; no.1554      


An Analysis of Stops in Holt Organs

The numerous specifications and anecdotal evidence we have been given and collected allow a partial analysis of the stops with their diverse sounds and reeds which were developed by the Holt family.

The dates given are from the earliest specification that can be verified featuring this stop. Remember that John Holt Snr. died in 1932 and John William in 1948, so we can determine who developed the particular example. We have not included the models from the French brochures, but have included the specification of the very early Westminster Abbey organ which has slightly unusual stop names.

Stop name Year Description
Double Diapason 16' 1896  
Bourdon 16' 1905 may be derived from Posaune
Posaune 16' 1908  
Open Diapason 16' 1921 may be enclosed
Violoncello 16'    
Violone 16' 1935  
Open Diapason 8' 1896  
Gemshorn 8' 1896  
Bass Flute 8' 1896  
Dulciana 8' 1896 may be derived from Diapason
Diapason 8' 1905  
Clarabella 8' 1905 may be sharp, enclosed
Hohl Flute 8' 1905  
Lieblich Gedacht 8' 1929  
Echo Flute 8'   derived from Hohl Flute
Small Diapason 8' 1921  
Stopped Diapason 8' 1933  
Geigen 8' 1935  
Large Diapason 8' 1935 Estève Harmonium reeds outside the windchest and with a resonating chamber. Also called ``Open Diapason''
Wald Flute 8' 1926  
Claribel Flute 8' c.1935?  
Open Diapason I 8' 1937 large scale reeds
Open Diapason II 8' 1937  
Principal 4' 1905 may be enclosed
Echo Flute 4' 1929  
Suabe Flute 4' 1929  
Fifteenth 2' 1937  
Hautboy 8'   derived from Clarinet
Trumpet 8' 1921 may be enclosed
Clarinet 8' 1931  
Gedackt 16' 1896  
Posaune 16' 1896  
Double Diapason 16' 1896  
Contra Hautboy 16' 1902  
Sub Bass 16' 1902  
Bassoon 16' 1905 derived from Posaune?
Bourdon 16' 1921 may be derived
Lieblich Gedacht 16'    
Lieblich Bourdon 16' 1926  
Contra Salicional 16' c.1935?  
Contra Gamba 16'    
Echo Bourdon 16' 1935  
Rohr Flöte 8' 1896  
Voix Céleste 8' 1896 sharp
Echo Gamba 8' 1902  
Gamba 8' 1905  
Salicional 8' 1909 may be derived from Clarionet
Horn Diapason 8' 1916 may be enclosed
Celeste 8' 1926 tuned sharp
Gemshorn 8' 1929  
Lieblich Gedacht 8' 1933  
Violin Diapason 8' 1935  
Lieblich Gedacht 8' 1938 Estève Harmonium reeds outside the windchest with a resonating chamber
French Horn 8' 1938  
Principal 4' 1896  
Hohl Flöte 4' 1896  
Gemshorn 4' 1902 may be derived from Flute
Flute 4' 1905  
Contra Fagotto 16' 1937  
Oboe 8' 1896 may be derived from Clarionet
Clarion 8' 1896  
Trumpet 8' 1896  
Clarionet 8' 1896  
Horn 8' 1902  
Cornopean 8' 1905  
Double Diapason 32' 1921 large scale
Open Diapason 32' 1938 very large reeds similar to vocalion
Sub Bass 32' 1938 or c.1935? very large reeds similar to vocalion, possibly derived from Open Diapason
?? 32' 1916  
Double Open Diapason 16' 1896  
Bourdon 16' 1896 derived from Open Diapason
Large Double 16' 1902  
Open Diapason 16' 1908 large scale reeds
Stopped Diapason 16' 1921 derived from Open Diapason
Violone 16'    
Dulciana 16'    
Bourdon 16' 1908 may be derived from Open Diapason, may be enclosed
Sub Bass 16' 1926  
Salicional 16' 1935  
Salicet 8' 1902  
Violoncello 8' 1902  
Bass Flute 8' 1921 may be enclosed
Octave Diapason 8' 1938  
Solo Flute 4' 1935  
Trombone 16' 1936 large scale
Cornopean 8' 1896  
Violoncello 8' 1896  
Double Dulciana 16' 1938 very narrow tongues
Contra Dulciana 16' 1937 may be same?
Hohl Flöte 8' 1896  
Lieblich Gedackt 8' 1896 may be enclosed
Salicional 8' 1896  
Dulcet 8' 1896  
Keraulophon 8' 1902  
Gedact 8' 1902  
Dulciana 8' 1921 may be enclosed
Vox Angelica 8' 1937 tuned flat
Claribel Flute 8' 1937  
Principal 4' 1896  
Flute 4' 1902  
Lieblich Flöte 4' 1896  
Suabe Flute 4' 1937  
Wald Flute 4' 1921  
Clarinet 8' 1902  
Clarionet 8' 1921  
Campanola (gongs) 1896  
Orchestral Oboe 16' 1896  
Concert Flute 4' 1896  
Posaune 8' 1896  
Vox Humana 8' 1896  
Dulciana 8' 1896  
Cor Anglais 8' 1896  

Please note that there is some variation in the stop names, as is the case in pipe organs, depending on the country for which the instrument was intended. We have not listed the names from the French brochure.

Rob Allan