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From churchyard bench to big business - booklet tell story of Stratford firm

Ian Hughes 26th Dec, 2017

MANY may be unaware that Stratford has a rich tradition of organ building.

Craftsman Thomas Hewin started an organ building business from a modest dwelling in Old Town in 1856, and for the next century the family business established a country-wide reputation for making high quality instruments.

The firm was sold in 1958 to a Worcester-based company, but more than 100 organs built by Hewins are still in use in churches and chapels up and down the country.

Richard Mallison, the great great grandson of the founder, has researched the firm’s history and has produced a booklet titled ¬†Hewins, Organ Builders of Stratford-Upon-Avon 1856-1958.

Thomas, an accomplished musician himself, was born in 1822. His career as an organ builder was largely the result of his friend, one Mr Hayward, who lived at The Hermitage in Old Town. He had an organ in the house which he allowed Thomas to play, and which inspired him to build one of his own.

Thomas so enjoyed making the organ he decided to make it his full-time occupation, and so started the firm Thomas Hewins, Organ Builder.

His second commission was to build a new organ for Stratford Philharmonic Society, and the resulting instrument won widespread praise.

The firm’s story moves from the shores of the Gallipoli peninsula during the First World War to a bench in the churchyard of Stratford’s Holy Trinity Church.

The booklet is available at Warwickshire libraries. Anyone wanting to purchase one, at printing cost, can call Richard on 01789 269714.

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