Machines made for music

PUBLISHED: 01:16 20 July 2012 | UPDATED: 21:38 20 February 2013

Machines made for music

Machines made for music

Caroline Fitton tunes into the wonderful world of Suffolk's Mechanical Music Museum

Caroline Fitton tunes into the wonderful world of Suffolks Mechanical Music Museum

With old vinyl 78s pinned to every rafter, sheet music stretching across ceilings and music playing from myriad whirring machines, the Mechanical Music Museum at Cotton is a truly eccentric delight. From curious old automata, accordions and barrel organs to a mighty Wurlitzer rising up from below the floor, intriguing sights and sounds lie in every direction.

Fairground and caf dance organs line the walls, from a multi-coloured massive 1924 Mortier caf organ to garishly painted fairground organs by Limonaire, Bruder and Gavioli, each of which lights up as it plays.

The 1926 cream Wurlitzer was originally made for an American cinema, but was installed for years in Londons Leicester Square Theatre and has an extraordinary network of connecting tubes linked to 11 ranks of pipes and instruments from oboes, flutes, violins and percussion which produce the sound effects.

This wonderful collection was amassed by Robert Finbow who had a house clearance and furniture business in nearby Finningham from the 1950s. He gradually acquired a sizeable collection of instruments, which were eventually housed at Cotton. Now run by enthusiastic volunteers, a tour reveals the history behind the full collection from the evolution of early instruments tiny music boxes, polyphons, nursery toys, wind up pianolas, culminating with demonstrations from resident organists David Ivory or Tom Horton. Fascinating, quirky and playful, as familiar tunes ring out through the walls this place leaves everyone smiling.


Theres a treat in store for mechanically minded musicians with a Fairground Organ enthusiasts Day at the Mechanical Music Museum on Sunday, October 7.

The day comprises the largest annual gathering of mechanical organs in East Anglia and visitors can look forward to seeing the museums own collection of mechanical, street and cafe organs, along with 20 visiting organs.

Other attractions will include a vintage traction steam engine on the museum forecourt and a sales stall in aid of museum funds. A dealer in mechanical music related items will also be in attendance and light refreshments will be available. Gates open at 10 am with entry priced at 5 for adults and 1 each for children.

Mechanical Music Museum, Blacksmith Road, Cotton, nr Stowmarket, IP14 4QN. Open Sundays, 2pm-5.30pm, June 3 to October 7. Two tours available. Tel: 01449 613876

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