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Saltaire

Benevolment and upstanding, Titus Salt was concerned to provide education and diversion for his workers. He would surely have been pleased to know of the harmonium and reed-organ museum now established in his model town.
S/011

I wasn't just pleased – I was delighted to learn that such a specialised museum existed so close to home … or at least, close to where home used to be. Combining a visit to Sheffield with a visit to Saltaire, though, turned out rather more difficult than I had foreseen, and in fact Chris got there first in September 1999. He brought me a couple of wonderful CDs, and said he'd enjoyed his visit more than he'd anticipated: not just things to see, but a welcoming and superbly well-informed curator whose enthusiasm was infectious. Of course, I'd known I wanted to go from the moment I first read about it on the Harmonium Home Page; Chris' endorsement just made me even keener. After several frustrated attempts, we finally we managed to visit the museum in October 2000; special thanks to our kind hosts Chris Lowry and Martin Watson for humouring me and driving us up there.

Every bit as wonderful as Chris had suggested! Harmoniums and other reed organs of all shapes and sizes, from something to take on a hospital visit to a practise-at-home subsitute for a cathedral organ with four manuals and pedals. A combined harmonium and piano for accompanying silent films. A splendid Orchestrel or player-harmonium. Memories of famous people from Queen Victoria to Sir Thomas Beecham. Famous names such as Debain, Estey, Alexandre. Stacks of sheet-music to browse through, and specialised tools such as a stop-stamper to admire. Old adverts and photos from the instrument's hey-day. Anyone with any interest at all in harmoniums should head up to Yorkshire at once.

The museum is in the Victoria Hall, on Victoria Road in Saltaire; normal opening times are Sunday -Thursday 11.00 - 16.00. Call the curators after six in the evening for more information, on +44 (0)1274 585601. If you really need an excuse, remember that Saltaire also has some quite splendid architecture and a Hockney museum. But be careful – was it really coincidence that I found my first harmonium the same weekend I was so looking forward to visiting the museum? When you take longings seriously, who knows what might happen …


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