Saving our Albert

Albert, as he came to be named, turned up about 55 years ago in a pile of fire salvaged timber. The figure was completely smoke-blackened with blistered paintwork and missing both hands, but with with no sign amongst the pile of any parts of an organ on which I presumed he once stood. Looking much unloved he came to stand in my workshop for ages while I decided what to do.

I eventually set to work and he was stripped back to the bare wood. All joints were now visible but required loads of wood filler to restore the profile. From the large cavity carved into his back, and some existing rusty linkage extending down the left arm, it was clear that this hand was intended to be animated. I wondered if he could be a left handed bandmaster as he was in military style uniform. Some organs have male left handed bell ringers but not usually in this military style of dress, and I did so want him to be a bandmaster.

Examination of similar figures gave me some indication what the missing hands should look like so two pieces of wood were selected and after several hours work reasonable results were achieved and fitted in place. Now came the painting plus a few other adornments; braid pinched from the wife’s old dress, some brass studs, gold paint and a small moulding from a DIY shop. He was mounted on a round base and given his baton, so now he was the bandmaster I always wanted.

From Issue 4, Spring 2016 of Mechanical Music World. To read this article in full become a member and receive a copy. Full details on “Membership” page.