American Organ – with original receipt!

Mr. and Mrs. Tom and Iris Billingham have presented an American Organ, which has been in their family for 113 years, to the Centre. The organ was made by Story and Clark in Chicago USA, but was supplied by J. Fry and Son of Reddal Hill Road, Old Hill. The instrument is in perfect condition and what is remarkable is that the family still had the original receipt of purchase (also donated to the centre) showing that the purchasing cost was £19 – 5 – 0 less 15/- discount (Total cost £18-10-0).

The organ belonged to Mrs. Billingham’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Job and Lydia Bird, of Petford Street, Cradley Heath. All four daughters, Mary, Annie, Gladys and Iris learned to play on it, and one sister, Annie, was for many years organist at the Cradley Mission.

Many homes in the Black Country had such American organs in their front rooms. On Sunday evenings after church or chapel, families and friends would gather around them and spend the latter part of the evening singing hymns in four-part harmony. Sankey’s Sacred Songs and Solos very popular.

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