Q: What is it?
A: It is a Fairground Organ, or ‘Fair Organ’.
Q: What does it do?
A: It plays music!
This is how music was played in the days before electronic recording and amplification.
Its primary use was at the fairground to accompany the rides.
In Holland they are still played in the streets. They are called ‘Street Organs’.
Q: Where was it made?
A: In England by the Dean Organ Company from Bristol.
It has been decorated in a traditional style to give it a more ‘Continental’ look.
Q: How old is it?
A: Not as old as it looks. It was made in 1982.
Its traditional decoration makes it look older!
Q: Where is the organ based?
A: In Manchester.
Q: Were organs ever run from steam?
A: In the early days, organs would have been powered by a small steam engine. But there
was a steam whistle organ called a ‘Calliope’, primarily used on American Steamboats,
which could be heard for miles!
Q: Are organs sometimes referred to as a ‘Hurdy-Gurdy’?
A: No. A Hurdy-Gurdy is a string instrument played on a small keyboard, with a rotating crank that vibrates the strings. However, in the 18th century the term was applied to portable ‘Hand-Turned’ barrel organs but is not used any more.
Q: Is it a ‘Barrel Organ’?
A: No. A barrel organ uses a cylindrical barrel with pins that activate the individual instruments of the organ, whereas this one uses a cardboard ‘book’ of punched music, where each hole corresponds to a musical note or percussion instrument.