- [1930s]-1997 (Creation)
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Extent and medium
0.34 cubic metres
17 boxes, 1 roll and 2 compact cassettes.
Name of creator
Maurice Ivor Forsyth-Grant was born at Ecclesgreig Castle near Montrose on 2 August 1917, the son of Captain Maurice Cecil Forsyth-Grant. He was educated at the Elms School at Colwall in Worcestershire and then at Wellington College, before going on to study electrical engineering at Faraday House Electrical Engineering College.
After graduating he spent a year working as assistant to the Chief Acoustical Engineer at the Gramophone Company (later EMI) and then spent five years with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. In 1946 he began working for International Aeradio, developing communications equipment such as radar, radio beacons and air field control tower systems. In 1951 he was promoted to Chief Engineer. In 1954 he joined the new company Racal Engineering, working as Technical Director there until 1978.
Throughout his life Forsyth-Grant had an abiding interest in organ building. He took organ lessons whilst at Wellington School and became a regular visitor to the John Compton Organ Company whilst studying at Faraday House. It was through his link with Comptons that he met Ted Rippin, who he credited with his ‘real apprenticeship’ in organ building. He soon built his first organ, using secondhand parts, which was installed at St Mark’s Church, Hitchin, in 1939. In the 1950s he designed and built an electric organ which he subsequently sold to developers. He contributed to a number of specialist journals and also travelled widely, making contact with and visiting organ makers in Austria, Germany, Canada and the USA in particular and attending the congress of the International Society of Organbuilders at Strasbourg, London and Hamberg.
In 1959, while still working at Racal, he was contacted by Ted Rippin to ask if he would consider investing in a new organ building firm to be set up by Rippins, John Degens, and Eric Atkins, two more Compton employees. He agreed and in 1960 became the chief investor in Degens and Rippin Ltd, who were based in Glenthorne Road in Hammersmith, London. The firm began by rebuilding old organs but soon moved on to designing and building their own, creating their first entirely new organ at St John the Evangelist Church in Fareham in 1964. In 1963 Forsyth-Grant added his name to the firm, making it Grant, Degens and Rippin Ltd. Then in 1967 Rippins retired from organ building and was replaced by Frank Bradbeer, making it Grant, Degens and Bradbeer Ltd.
The firm built twenty more organs over the next seven years, including the first three-manual mechanical action organ built in the UK and the electric organ in the Jack Lyons Concert Hall at the new University of York. The business relocated to Northampton in 1970 and Forsyth-Grant subsequently became less involved, stepping down as Director in the early 1970s and retiring completely from the firm in 1981. He wrote a history of the company, and of his own lifelong interest in organ building, in 1987, published as ‘Twenty One Years of Organ-Building: The History of Degens and Rippin Ltd; Grant, Degens and Rippin Ltd; and Grant, Degens and Bradbeer Ltd.’
Maurice Forsyth-Grant retired to Wales and died in Rhydspence, Herefordshire, on 3 November 1992.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
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Personal papers of Maurice Forsyth-Grant, including correspondence, articles, notes, journals, press cuttings and photographs relating to organ building around the world, 1930s-1980s; papers and photographs concerning his home, Hawthorn Lodge, and the organ rebuilt there by Forsyth-Grant, 1950s-1960s; manuscript and typescript drafts, notes, correspondence concerning his autobiography ‘Twenty-One Years of Organ Building,’ 1980s, together with a copy of the published work, 1987; and magnetic audio tape labelled ‘Huddersfield O.C’, n.d.
Papers of Reverend F. G. Hunter concerning Forsyth-Grant, 1960s-1997, including correspondence; draft and published articles; advertisements; newspaper cuttings, audio recordings and papers relating to Maurice Forsyth Grant Memorial Weekend at the University of York.
Records relating to organ building firm of Degens & Rippin Ltd; Grant, Degens & Rippin Ltd; and Grant, Degens & Bradbeer Ltd, comprising foundation papers, including memorandum of Articles of Association of Degens & Rippin Ltd, 1960, special resolutions, 1962-1964, and company policy, 1967; accounts, 1960-1979; papers of Frank Bradbeer’s secretary, comprising business correspondence arranged alphabetically, 1960s-1970s; papers concerning relocation of firm to Northampton, 1969-1970; advertising materials, 1962-1983; production records, comprising project files for organs restored and built by the firm, including specifications, estimates, correspondence, blueprints, invoices, and photographs, 1957-c.1984, production diagrams by Grant, Degens and Bradbeer, and by other organ building firms, n.d., correspondence, brochures, and price lists by manufacturers of organ components in the UK, Europe and the USA, 1961-1967, and files concerning unsuccessful job tenders, 1961-1979; papers concerning recitals, dedications, and recordings of organs by the firm, 1962-1979; articles concerning organ building around the world, 1948-1974; visitors’ book of Grant, Degens & Bradbeer Ltd, 1964-1972; and other business papers.
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