Records of Forster and Andrews (L DBFA)

The new catalogue of the Forster and Andrews Organ Builders collection is now available to view via our online catalogue! Although the catalogue previously existed it has been edited and revamped to make the collection as accessible as possible. The collection holds a wealth of information, giving insight into the work of Forster and Andrews, which built, maintained and repaired organs for customers locally, nationally and overseas. A brief history of the firm is also available.

What records will I find in the collection?
The collection mainly comprises of records created by Forster and Andrews in the day to day running of the business. The collection includes organ ledgers (1844-1951); organ specifications (1854-1966); publications, including those promoting Forster and Andrews, as well as presscuttings (1845-1987); drawings of organs (1876-1919); photographs, including photographs of staff, family and workshop buildings, as well as photographs of the organs worked on by Forster and Andrews (1860-c.1980s); and the collection also includes the correspondence and research of Laurence Elvin in relation to Forster and Andrews (1936-1982).

Organ Ledgers
The organ ledgers contain details of work undertaken by Forster and Andrews and the costs including tuning, cleaning, and repairing existing machinery. In cases where new orders were placed the entries provide more details, though not a full specification, including information about casing and other work required. Each page or entry is for a named church, though some are filed under a named individual, allowing researchers to see work carried out over a series of years. Many entries also include information indicating the date the organ was installed and opened.

Forster and Andrews organ ledger 1 (Ref L DBFA/1/1) p30 Holy Trinity, Hull

The organ ledgers are indexed. An alphabetical list of entries for most of the ledgers is also available through the online catalogue, which means that you will be able to search for the name of a church and discover which ledger it is held in as well as the year work was completed and the page number to turn to.

The organ ledgers held in L DBFA/1 are only available to view on microfilm. To book a microfilm reader in advance please call us on 01482 317500.

Drawings and Photographs
The collection holds an array of drawings and photographs of organs that Forster and Andrews worked on. Included is a photograph of Cyril Forster, son of James Forster Junior (L DBFA/6/2/1), a small number of photographs of the organ workshops and the main assembly hall (L DBFA/6/3/1-5), a reprint of an old photograph showing Mr. Corner, who worked at Forster & Andrews for many years as a tuner, seated at an organ (L DBFA/6/3/6), and copies of a portrait of Philip Selfe who joined Forster & Andrews in 1897 (L DBFA/6/3/7).

Publications mainly comprise pamphlets (L DBFA/4/1), organ lists (L DBFA/4/2) and newspaper cuttings (L DBFA/4/3) but also include a scrapbook of personal and business records (L DBFA/4/4/1) as well as a number of ephemeral items, including service programmes to celebrate the opening of new organs. These records help to build a picture of the importance of Forster and Andrews work as well as highlighting the different ways in which the business was advertised.

Are there any other materials relating to Forster and Andrews?
There are a number of items held in the records of the Fish Street Congregational Church (L DCFS), as Forster and Andrews’ were commissioned to build the church organ. Plans of the Hull City Hall organ, manufactured by Forster and Andrews and installed in the City Hall in 1911, are held at C DMX/212. There are also two books written by Laurence Elvin relating to Forster and Andrews:  ‘Forster and Andrews: Their barrel, chamber and small church organs’ (L.786.63) and ‘Forster and Andrews, Organ builders, 1843-1956: A chapter in English organ building’ (L.786.63)

How do I access the Collection?
The collection is available for anyone to use and has been given the unique reference number L DBFA. The collection has also been added to the History Centre's online catalogue and a paper version of the catalogue is available for use in the searchroom at the Hull History Centre.