LOCAL HISTORY & COMPANY DETAILS
Mechanical Music - A Local Tradition since 1816.......
The Music Box Shop is the retail music shop, of the family business Dean Organ Builders.
Our small retail shop in Whitchurch, nr Bristol, was established to sell new music boxes, musical jewellery boxes, music gifts and musical instruments.
We were also one of the first companies in England to offer new music boxes and musical jewellery boxes, for sale by mail order, from our web site www.themusicboxshop.co.uk .This is our original web site, brought to you by the original Dean Organs Company.
The Bristol / Bath area has a long tradition of musical instrument manufacturing.
The first organ builder to have his works in Bristol is believed to be Robert Tanton, establishing his business in 1660. So followed a succession of organ builders, including manufacturers and hirers of barrel organs and pianos etc, dealers and shops selling all kinds of instruments, both mechanical and manual players.
By the middle of the 18th century, the area could boast such firms as Elizabeth Chew, the Bristol Harpsichord makers, and Brice Seede Organ Builders. As the music industry grew, apprentices to these firms started their own businesses.
One of the areas closely linked to the music industry was Castle Street in Bristol, which at one time could boast music box sales, pipe organ dealers & manufacturers and other musical instrument shops.
By circa 1805 the famous Bristol cabinet making family of Hicks had turned their attention to the building of musical instruments and are credited as inventing and building the very first street barrel piano in Bristol around this date. So by 1816 the firm of Joseph Hicks was well established as a leading supplier of barrel street pianos and organs. The Hicks pattern of street piano was so popular that other firms copied the design, including the German builders in the Black Forest area.
Following the success of the Hicks street piano, Hicks style pianos continued to be built in Bristol by his ex apprentices. At this point the firms of Henry Distin and Taylors were established and continued the tradition.
Not only were pipe and string instruments popular, also reed playing organs were sought after. Bristol was not to be left behind in this field, with George B Briffett establishing his reed organ manufacturing business in Hulbert Street circa 1883, producing fine quality reed organs.
By 1909 the mechanical music businesses were well established in the area and it was in this year that Arthur Oram was to found the Bristol Showmans Stores in Bedminster which went on to become sole agent for the Paris firm of fair organ builders, C H Marenghi & Cie. Today this historic name can still be seen as the brand name on some of the products and organ music supplied by Dean Organs the last remaining Bristol family business still repairing and building fairground and street organs.
It was Bedminster that was to become the first home for the Dean family when Walter Thomas Dean brought his family to the area from Dorset following his marriage in 1899 to Agnes Wyatt the daughter of a local dealer, William Wyatt.
The son of Walter Dean, Edwin Dean moved his business to Whitchurch in 1939.There is a long tradition in the Dean family in joinery, woodworking, carpentry, and cabinet making. Under the direction of Edwin Dean's son, Michael, the family turned its attention to the building of new traditional style fairground and street organs. It was at this time that the name Dean Organs was born.
Mike and Pat Dean were joined by son Richard in the early 1980s and some years later by son Nicholas. The company has produced a large number of new organs over the years. Following Mike and Pat Dean's retirement from the business in the late 1990s, the organ building business continued in the hands of their sons, who added extra scope to the business by opening the retail music shop, "The Music Box Shop", the shop stocks general musical instruments and Swiss music boxes by both Reuge and Jobin as well as our own range of musical jewellery boxes.
Later Nicholas Dean decided to leave the company and today the business continues in the hands of Richard and Sue Dean. Richard still continues with the mechanical organ building, as he is now one of the few trained and experienced mechanical organ builders left in this country.
Sue is the manager of "The Music Box Shop", with her friendly and helpful staff they are always on hand to offer advice on your new music box or musical instrument purchase and to ensure that your order arrives promptly if purchased by mail order, or if you are visiting the retail shop that your visit is a pleasant one.
In January of 2006 Richard and Sue opened a music tuition office for keyboard and piano which has complimented the services that the company offers, so whatever aspect of music you are interested in, whether it be mechanical organs, music boxes, or electric guitar you can be sure whether you purchase a Dean made product or an externally sourced product, that the same care and pride has been used to manufacture or source it as is expected of a traditional firm.
"Dean Organ Builders, keeping The Tradition Of Mechanical Music Alive".