Since starting organ building in 1795, James Chapman Bishop’s first workshops were at York buildings in Saint Marylebone. He soon became well established and took on the premises of 250 Marylebone Road as his workshops.
J. C. Bishop quickly built a good reputation and became widely known as a master organ builder whose attention to detail and expert knowledge, combined with ingenuity and craftsmanship, produced some of the finest English organs of the nineteenth century.
The master organ builder insisted from the start that the firm used only the finest materials.
James Bishop was responsible for inventing some of the features that we take for granted in organ building today, namely the anti-concussion bellows to provide steady wind, the Clarabella stop and the composition pedal.
Charles Augustus Bishop and George Speechley Bishop followed in their father's footsteps and ran the firm alongside him. Charles was more involved in the running of the firm, taking on many of the responsibilities at the workshops while his father was travelling on firm’s business. After his father’s death in 1854, responsibility for the firm fell largely into Charles’ hands, and indeed he was responsible for the partnerships with Starr and Richardson.
Charles Kenwrick Kenelm Bishop was Charles Augustus’ son, who was put to task in the firm at every opportunity from a young age, he was much loved by all of the men and became a highly skilled young organ builder. C. K. K. was a man of great vision who sadly became ill from a young age and so didn’t live to fulfil his dreams and potential. However in his time at the heart of the firm the young Charles was able to follow in his grandfather's footsteps showing innovation and attention to detail. The firm saw a new era of development during C. K. K.’s time with the registration of new patents and improved practices.
Owing C. K. K. 's illness the business was in a parlous state and Edward Hadlow Suggate, having raised the necessary funds, was able to purchase the firm thereby ensuring it's future.
During Edward Hadlow Suggate’s time as Principal of the firm, Bishop and Son saw some of the most dramatic changes in organ building. Indeed he was to oversee its progress through the end of the nineteenth century and its journey through the beginning of the twentieth, this is by many considered to be one of the most important periods of the trade’s history. In his time Mr Suggate was responsible for the purchasing of a new large works at Westbourne Mill as the firm expanded to Ipswich. Mr Suggate was anxious to keep alive the traditions of the Bishop family but was not afraid to embrace new ideas and established at Ipswich a well equipped factory, that included, by repute, the largest pipe metal casting bench in the trade.
Sadly his son Eric, a skilled engineer, was killed in a First World War.
Mr Suggate took a keen interest in the building of every organ the firm worked on and would attend to the finishing himself. This attentiveness produced some of the most musical instruments of the period.
His daughter, Hilda Mary Suggate, ran the firm after her father's death in 1946 until her own death in 1981. She took great pride in the firm and was determined it should continue, and in the early years relied upon her late father's loyal staff. Even in old age she maintained an interest in the work carried out.
The firm is now a limited company with Dr Maurice Merrill as Principal.
Head Office - London:
58 Beethoven Street
Phone: +44 (0)208 969 4328