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History

Richard Bower has been an organ builder since 1969, when he joined a small firm in Norwich after graduating from the Royal College of Music.

He became a partner in the firm during his apprenticeship to E & W Storr and became sole proprietor after three years.

After building his first completely new organ in the mid 1970's, the name of the business was changed to R. A. J. Bower & Company. In 1986, the firm moved from a small workshop to much larger premises in Wroxham, Norfolk. Ten years later, we moved again to Weston Longville  10 miles west of Norwich. Our name we simplified to Bower & Company.

Our 6000 sq. ft. workshop is larger than before and is a purpose conversion of a long barn built in the 1950's. It has a separate section for our woodworking machinery, a main workshop and a large storage and erection area. Voicing is done in an adjoining building.

In recent years we have built more than a dozen new mechanical organs, carried out major renovations of three organs of around fifty stops each & undertaken mechanical reconstructions of up to 35 organs. This website features some of our work done since 1990, a period which includes the restoration of three substantial Hill organs from the 1870's and the construction of three Chair organs.

 

Richard

Richard Bower like Benjamin Britten before him, was educated at Gresham's School in Norfolk and at The Royal College of Music. But he did not become a composer of music but rather one of organs. After studying piano with Anthony Hopkins and Alan Rowlands, and organ with John Birch and Denys Darlow, Richard embarked on a path of being both organ builder and organist.

Unable to get a standard apprenticeship with the large organ building firms of the day, because of his now being overqualified and too old at 21, he joined the Norfolk partnership of E. & W. Storr. Seeing the aptitude for the work and the enthusiasm of their newest partner gave Edward the impetus to retire. His example was followed by Wilfrid a couple of years later and the business was continued in Richards' capable hands.

By this time Richard had learned the basics of the trade and gained voicing skills (which is now his his personal forte) with Dennis Thurlow.

Since those early days, the business of RAJ Bower & Company has developed considerably, with new organs now incorporating Richard's own house style of wind control and wood key coverings being among the more obvious features.

He incorporates his unique voicing style with bright mixtures and warm and exciting diapason tones. On the restoration front, he has developed a wealth of knowledge regarding Holdich instruments, particularly again in the area of voicing.

The business became IBO accredited with the formation of that organization.

Richard has been described as 'a perfectionist in the musical and mechanical arts which combine in organ building' and as 'a fluent exciting and implacable professional for whom the objective is all'.

Despite his continuingly busy schedule, Richard still makes time for several recitals each year; he particularly enjoys giving recitals not only in his home county of Norfolk, but especially on his 'own' instruments whether built or restored or just on the tuning round of his own Company.

Service, Tuning and Maintenance

Our slogan “Always at your Service” was much used in the 1990s but is still as alive today with several hundred organs being played every Sunday that have been tuned and worked on by us.

We are familiar with of all kinds of organ systems, mechanical, pneumatic and electrical, both with traditional and with solid state switching.

Maintenance

This service includes a full technical check-up of the organ inclusive of the motor, an adjustment of all tracker actions, tuning and, if necessary, re-voicing of certain pipes.

Repairing

This service includes cleaning the organ and all pipes, replacement of broken parts, enlargement of your memory system and carefully re-voicing and tuning.

Tuning

Our modern policy is that regular tuning contracts are a thing of the past though we do expect loyalty from our customers and our guarantees are normally tenable only if we are the sole tuners of the organ.
To use our services is simple. Call us when you need us. If you wish us to repair, tune or service your organ, ring and arrange a date for us to visit. If you want us to come every so often ring us every so often.
The reason is simple – organs only go out of tune for a reason – such as dirt, disturbance, or a change in temperature or humidity. Tuning an organ at a non sensible temperature is silly – unless for a specific occasion or reason; and if so done it will need retuning when the normal temperature or condition returns.
We prefer to tune and maintain when required for that special occasion, or when the conditions are right and the tuning has begun to wander and musical ears feel it needs attention. When we do tune we prefer to take the time necessary to make the tuning as correct and tuneful as is practical so to do, adjusting pipe speech when sensible so to do. A visit of 2 hours once every third year should yield far better tuning and adjustment that annual or more visits of 1hr.

Reed stops of course move from Summer to Winter and so need more regular attention. We have many places we visit 2, 3 and 4 times a year when so asked to do.

Our tuning and maintenance is done under the name of Bower Organ Tuning and most visits are now made personally by Richard Bower to ensure customer satisfaction.
We can also tune your instrument to different temperament and give further information about it. Our regular tuning customers use not only Equal Temperament, but also Young’s Temperament , Valotti, and also our rediscovered “Holdich” temperament. We have tuned to Werckmeister III and Kirnberger II and are always willing to use other temperaments when correct so to do.

For further information and questions please contact us.

Contact

Institute of British Organ Building

We are a business member of the Institute of British Organ Building who accredited us in all categories of organ building at the time of our assessment. Since then they have introduced a specific Pneumatic category. We do of course undertake pneumatic restoration when required and are highly familiar with most Victorian systems and especially with what we consider to be the finest, the "Norwich"  exhaust pneumatic action developed by Norman and Beard. We have overhauled, re-leathered and restored many pneumatic organs.

Reference

We have  a special interest in the organs of G. M. Holdich and his organs at Easton on the Hill, Wiveton, Frilsham, Laxton and Framlingham Pigot have been restored by us.
George Maydwell Holdich

Concerts

Tuesday 6th September  Cromer Parish Church 8 p.m.




Saturday 17th September
St Nicholas Church, Dereham

Organ recital by



Stephen King, Organist at Brentwood Cathedral

includes music by Mendelssohn, Wolstenhome, Gigout, Guilmant and Henery Smart

Addmission, including interval drink and light refreshment, Tickets £4.00 in advance from the Dereham Parish Office 01362 693143 or £5.00 on the door