History

Founded in 1795, James Chapman Bishop’s first workshops were at York buildings in Saint Marylebone. He soon became well established and took on the premises of 250 Marylebone Road.

JC Bishop quickly built a reputation and became widely known as a master organ builder whose attention to detail and expert knowledge, combined with ingenuity and craftsmanship, produced some of the finest English organs of the nineteenth century. 

He insisted from the start of his career that his house used only the finest materials and best quality resources in its manufactory and that this rule was not compromised for expedience or financial economy. He was also responsible for inventing some of the features that we take for granted in organ building today, namely the anti-concussion valve to provide steady wind, the Clarabella stop and the composition pedals to name but a few.


James Chapman Bishop

Charles Augustus Bishop and George Speechley Bishop were JC Bishop’s sons, both of whom were trained as organ builders and followed in their father’s footsteps running the firm alongside him. Charles was more involved in the running of the firm, taking on many of the responsibilities at the workshops while his father was travelling on firm’s business. After his father’s death in 1854, the care of the firm fell largely into Charles’ hands, indeed he was responsible for the partnerships with Starr and Richardson. George decided to spend less time at the workshops and gave his time only as needed.

Charles Kenwick Kenelm Bishop was Charles Augustus’ son, and was put to task in the firm at every opportunity from a young age; he was much loved by all the men and became an excellently skilled young organ builder. CKK was a man of great vision who sadly became ill at a young age and so did not fulfil his dreams and potential. However, in his time at the heart of the firm the young Charles was able to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps showing innovation and attention to detail. The firm saw a new era of ingenuity and creativity during CKK’s time with the registration of many new patents and improvement of techniques and practices, a remarkable achievement in such a small span of time.

Edward Hadlow Suggate was an organ builder at Bishop and Son during Charles KK Bishop’s time. As young Charles became too ill to administrate the firm, E Hadlow Suggate saw the need for certainty in its future and was able to raise the money necessary to purchase the business and its assets. Mr Suggate was subsequently able to take over the entire management of the firm but was keen to keep Charles involved as much as possible. Indeed, Charles was constantly present in the workshop, both in the offices and at the bench. When CKK Bishop died, Mr Suggate insisted upon ensuring financial support for his widow and family.

During Edward Hadlow Suggate’s time as Principal of the firm, Bishop and Son saw some of the most dramatic changes in organ building. He was to oversee its progress through the end of the nineteenth century and its journey through the beginning of the twentieth; this is by many considered to be one of the most important periods of our industry’s history. In his time Mr Suggate was responsible for the purchasing of a new, large works as the firm expanded to Ipswich, and he completely re-tooled twice!

Mr Suggate was keen to maintain the firm’s tradition of best quality whatever the cost and was equally as keen to advance as far as possible the techniques and output of the firm. After the loss during the Great War of his son Eric Suggate, a gifted young man and a brilliant engineer who was responsible for the firm’s electric and hydraulic blowing achievements up to the war, Mr Suggate worked closely with his works manager, Mr “Harry” Holt, to develop any area of the trade possible, and in the 1920s Bishop and Son was responsible for many achievements in developing and introducing electric actions and transmissions, the design and operation of which are still remarkable today. The techniques developed by them were not used by some other firms until decades later and are still in use today, the late RA Williams (Stero) basing much of his electrical equipment on our designs.

Mr Suggate took a keen interest in the building and finishing of every organ the firm worked on and would attend to the finishing himself. This attentiveness produced some of the most musical instruments of the period and was passed on to Mr Suggate’s daughter. Hilda Mary Suggate ran the firm after her father’s death. She was a shrewd businesswoman like her father before her and shared his compassion for the staff as well as the work they carried out. In the last half a century, Bishop and Son has continued to develop the technology and design of instruments with care and pride. It follows closely in the traditions of predecessors while looking forward to the future with continued research and development of work – within its workshops can be seen equipment and tooling that has been here for over 200 years together with new machinery and tooling. This helps it to stay at the leading edge of the market for good quality British organ building.

Meet the Team

Click the links below to find out more about the key members of our team


Simon Pulham - Ipswich Manager

Joined the staff at Ipswich on leaving school in 1973. He is actively involved in the local music scene, including 27 years as choirmaster at his local church.  As a keen librarian, his interests include the history of the Bishop & Son firm and its work, as well as the Theatre organ preservation movement.

Gary Rogers - Ipswich Foreman

Joined the firm shortly after leaving school in 1979. Served an apprenticeship and became a bench hand. Here he learnt the traditional practices and techniques, working on projects both in the UK and in Holland.  During this period, he was pleased to work alongside some "old hands" who's knowledge and expertise proved invaluable. 

1989 saw a mid-term career change, venturing into the world of fibre optics, specialising in laser op amps and receivers. He returned to the fold in 1997 with a renewed interest in electronic switching systems and advances made in technology, particularly those promoting and enhancing the versatility of the instrument. Although not an organist, a keen musical interest has always been a driving force and as a tuner, travelling and meeting customers has always played an important role. 

Daniel Spencer FISOB MIMIT - London Manager (Director)

A musician and chorister from a young age, Daniel has always had an interest in the pipe organ. He came to Bishop & Son from college where he studied IT and served his apprenticeship at the London Works under the watchful eye of a brilliant team led by Maurice Merrell. He took an interest in all areas of the industry and soon after completing his apprenticeship, became responsible for the London tuning rounds.

In 2012 he became the London Manager and company secretary and was then responsible for many of the day-to-day operations of the firm and the oversight of all main contracts run from our London site. He is now a Director of the company and oversees all operations from our Head office in London.

In his early career, Daniel made a special study of the voicing techniques and styles of our firm over its history and has developed that further working closely with Maurice Merrell in our London Voicing shop where he continues to develop our techniques and experiments with new ideas and continued study.

Dr Maurice Merrell FRSA FISOB - Principal

Maurice started his apprenticeship with Bishop & Son in 1951 under the directorship of the Late Hilda Mary “Miss” Suggate with Percy Reed as General Manager. He worked closely with the late Tom Walker (Son of C S Walker), the then London Manager and having spent several years in charge of the firms Midlands and Welsh rounds as well as covering for other reps, he began to take over the responsibilities of the London Manager gradually as Tom Walker’s health deteriorated. He became a joint director of the company under Miss Suggate with John Budgen and has been responsible for the company since her death, he has been in with B&S for 7 decades!

Starting out as a young musician, his first organist job at the age of 14 was at Saint James’ Bermondsey, he moved from there to St. Peters Islington with a boys’ choir of 14. Maurice served as organist at St. Georges Bloomsbury for over 30 years and for much of this time was Churchwarden and Treasurer.

His other interests are many and varied, including a number of years with the Church Lads Brigade as an instructor where he obtained the rank of captain and founding or sitting on the governing bodies of many organisations or examining music students in various disciplines. Maurice has one Music Doctorate and two Honorary Music Doctorates and has spent much of his career in music and organ building promoting the education of young musicians and tradesmen to the highest standards.

Adrian Chang BSc MISOB - London Foreman

Adrian, from a young age, attended his local Methodist Church, where his interest in organs began, singing hymns with the chorus of sounds from the organ. He studied aerospace technology at the university of Hertfordshire and still has a great interest in all kinds of aircraft. During his time at university, he took on piloting studies and continues to fly light aircraft as a hobby.

He enjoys many sporting activities including football and basketball in the winter months and golf and crocket in the summer. Adrian served his apprenticeship under the guidance and knowledge of Maurice Merrell and Daniel Spencer. In early 2020, Adrian became the Foreman of the London branch and oversees the London staff during their daily activities.

Andrew Crawford BA CISOB - Office Manager

Andrew holds a degree in History and Geography from Sunderland University, and worked for the Post Office in County Durham after his studies.  He moved to London in 2010 to work as a Pastoral Assistant at Saint Matthew’s Westminster. Since then, he has been a Parish Administrator, and most recently verger at Saint Stephen’s Westminster. He has worked at parishes in Pimlico, Stepney & North Marylebone.  He joined the firm in 2019 as part time administrator, and in 2021 became full time office manager. Since 2016 he has been the Sunday verger at Saint James’ Church, Paddington, where he is a PCC Member, and a member of Paddington Deanery Synod.  When not frequenting churches, he can be found in one of the many museums and galleries, drinking tea & eating cake, or at one of the many concerts London has to offer. 

Meet the Team

Find out more about the key members of our team


Simon Pulham
Ipswich Manager

Joined the staff at Ipswich on leaving school in 1973. He is actively involved in the local music scene, including 27 years as choirmaster at his local church.  As a keen librarian, his interests include the history of the Bishop & Son firm and its work, as well as the Theatre organ preservation movement.

Gary Rogers
Ipswich Foreman

Joined the firm shortly after leaving school in 1979. Served an apprenticeship and became a bench hand. Here he learnt the traditional practices and techniques, working on projects both in the UK and in Holland.  During this period, he was pleased to work alongside some "old hands" who's knowledge and expertise proved invaluable. 

1989 saw a mid-term career change, venturing into the world of fibre optics, specialising in laser op amps and receivers. He returned to the fold in 1997 with a renewed interest in electronic switching systems and advances made in technology, particularly those promoting and enhancing the versatility of the instrument. Although not an organist, a keen musical interest has always been a driving force and as a tuner, travelling and meeting customers has always played an important role. 

Daniel Spencer
London Manager

A musician and chorister from a young age, Daniel has always had an interest in the pipe organ. He came to Bishop & Son from college where he studied IT and served his apprenticeship at the London Works under the watchful eye of a brilliant team led by Maurice Merrell. He took an interest in all areas of the industry and soon after completing his apprenticeship, became responsible for the London tuning rounds.

In 2012 he became the London Manager and company secretary and was then responsible for many of the day-to-day operations of the firm and the oversight of all main contracts run from our London site. He is now a Director of the company and oversees all operations from our Head office in London.

In his early career, Daniel made a special study of the voicing techniques and styles of our firm over its history and has developed that further working closely with Maurice Merrell in our London Voicing shop where he continues to develop our techniques and experiments with new ideas and continued study.

Dr Maurice Merrell
Principal

Maurice started his apprenticeship with Bishop & Son in 1951 under the directorship of the Late Hilda Mary “Miss” Suggate with Percy Reed as General Manager. He worked closely with the late Tom Walker (Son of C S Walker), the then London Manager and having spent several years in charge of the firms Midlands and Welsh rounds as well as covering for other reps, he began to take over the responsibilities of the London Manager gradually as Tom Walker’s health deteriorated. He became a joint director of the company under Miss Suggate with John Budgen and has been responsible for the company since her death, he has been in with B&S for 7 decades!

Starting out as a young musician, his first organist job at the age of 14 was at Saint James’ Bermondsey, he moved from there to St. Peters Islington with a boys’ choir of 14. Maurice served as organist at St. Georges Bloomsbury for over 30 years and for much of this time was Churchwarden and Treasurer.

His other interests are many and varied, including a number of years with the Church Lads Brigade as an instructor where he obtained the rank of captain and founding or sitting on the governing bodies of many organisations or examining music students in various disciplines. Maurice has one Music Doctorate and two Honorary Music Doctorates and has spent much of his career in music and organ building promoting the education of young musicians and tradesmen to the highest standards.

Adrian Chang
London Foreman

Adrian, from a young age, attended his local Methodist Church, where his interest in organs began, singing hymns with the chorus of sounds from the organ. He studied aerospace technology at the university of Hertfordshire and still has a great interest in all kinds of aircraft. During his time at university, he took on piloting studies and continues to fly light aircraft as a hobby.

He enjoys many sporting activities including football and basketball in the winter months and golf and crocket in the summer. Adrian served his apprenticeship under the guidance and knowledge of Maurice Merrell and Daniel Spencer. In early 2020, Adrian became the Foreman of the London branch and oversees the London staff during their daily activities.

Andrew Crawford
Office Manager

Andrew holds a degree in History and Geography from Sunderland University, and worked for the Post Office in County Durham after his studies.  He moved to London in 2010 to work as a Pastoral Assistant at Saint Matthew’s Westminster. Since then, he has been a Parish Administrator, and most recently verger at Saint Stephen’s Westminster. He has worked at parishes in Pimlico, Stepney & North Marylebone.  He joined the firm in 2019 as part time administrator, and in 2021 became full time office manager. Since 2016 he has been the Sunday verger at Saint James’ Church, Paddington, where he is a PCC Member, and a member of Paddington Deanery Synod.  When not frequenting churches, he can be found in one of the many museums and galleries, drinking tea & eating cake, or at one of the many concerts London has to offer. 

Simon Pulham - Ipswich Manager

Joined the staff at Ipswich on leaving school in 1973. He is actively involved in the local music scene, including 27 years as choirmaster at his local church.  As a keen librarian, his interests include the history of the Bishop & Son firm and its work, as well as the Theatre organ preservation movement.

Gary Rogers - Ipswich Foreman

Joined the firm shortly after leaving school in 1979. Served an apprenticeship and became a bench hand. Here he learnt the traditional practices and techniques, working on projects both in the UK and in Holland.  During this period, he was pleased to work alongside some "old hands" who's knowledge and expertise proved invaluable. 

1989 saw a mid-term career change, venturing into the world of fibre optics, specialising in laser op amps and receivers. He returned to the fold in 1997 with a renewed interest in electronic switching systems and advances made in technology, particularly those promoting and enhancing the versatility of the instrument. Although not an organist, a keen musical interest has always been a driving force and as a tuner, travelling and meeting customers has always played an important role. 

Daniel Spencer FISOB MIMIT - London Manager (Director)

A musician and chorister from a young age, Daniel has always had an interest in the pipe organ. He came to Bishop & Son from college where he studied IT and served his apprenticeship at the London Works under the watchful eye of a brilliant team led by Maurice Merrell. He took an interest in all areas of the industry and soon after completing his apprenticeship, became responsible for the London tuning rounds.

In 2012 he became the London Manager and company secretary and was then responsible for many of the day-to-day operations of the firm and the oversight of all main contracts run from our London site. He is now a Director of the company and oversees all operations from our Head office in London.

In his early career, Daniel made a special study of the voicing techniques and styles of our firm over its history and has developed that further working closely with Maurice Merrell in our London Voicing shop where he continues to develop our techniques and experiments with new ideas and continued study.

Dr Maurice Merrell FRSA FISOB - Principal

Maurice started his apprenticeship with Bishop & Son in 1951 under the directorship of the Late Hilda Mary “Miss” Suggate with Percy Reed as General Manager. He worked closely with the late Tom Walker (Son of C S Walker), the then London Manager and having spent several years in charge of the firms Midlands and Welsh rounds as well as covering for other reps, he began to take over the responsibilities of the London Manager gradually as Tom Walker’s health deteriorated. He became a joint director of the company under Miss Suggate with John Budgen and has been responsible for the company since her death, he has been in with B&S for 7 decades!

Starting out as a young musician, his first organist job at the age of 14 was at Saint James’ Bermondsey, he moved from there to St. Peters Islington with a boys’ choir of 14. Maurice served as organist at St. Georges Bloomsbury for over 30 years and for much of this time was Churchwarden and Treasurer.

His other interests are many and varied, including a number of years with the Church Lads Brigade as an instructor where he obtained the rank of captain and founding or sitting on the governing bodies of many organisations or examining music students in various disciplines. Maurice has one Music Doctorate and two Honorary Music doctorates and has spent much of his career in music and organ building promoting the education of young musicians and tradesmen to the highest standards.

Adrian Chang BSc MISOB - London Foreman

Adrian, from a young age, attended his local Methodist Church, where his interest in organs began, singing hymns with the chorus of sounds from the organ. He studied aerospace technology at the university of Hertfordshire and still has a great interest in all kinds of aircraft. During his time at university, he took on piloting studies and continues to fly light aircraft as a hobby.

He enjoys many sporting activities including football and basketball in the winter months and golf and crocket in the summer. Adrian served his apprenticeship under the guidance and knowledge of Maurice Merrell and Daniel Spencer. In early 2020, Adrian became the Foreman of the London branch and oversees the London staff during their daily activities.

Andrew Crawford BA CISOB - Office Manager

Andrew holds a degree in History and Geography from Sunderland University, and worked for the Post Office in County Durham after his studies.  He moved to London in 2010 to work as a Pastoral Assistant at Saint Matthew’s Westminster. Since then, he has been a Parish Administrator, and most recently verger at Saint Stephen’s Westminster. He has worked at parishes in Pimlico, Stepney & North Marylebone.  He joined the firm in 2019 as part time administrator, and in 2021 became full time office manager. Since 2016 he has been the Sunday verger at Saint James’ Church, Paddington, where he is a PCC Member, and a member of Paddington Deanery Synod.  When not frequenting churches, he can be found in one of the many museums and galleries, drinking tea & eating cake, or at one of the many concerts London has to offer.