BIRD AMPLIFIERS

A VISIT TO THE FACTORY

By John Beer, Devon, England

 

 

Back in about 1961, when I was 17, my mother bought me a Bird Golden Eagle, 3 speaker type. (Model 2/15)  I built a matching cabinet for it to house a decent single 12 inch speaker. I covered it brown and beige, with very similar material as the original amp. This I could buy from local suppliers. But I could not match the grill cloth. My girl friend at that time (!!) lived in Swanage Dorset; just around the corner from Poole.

I decided a visit to the Bird Organ Works in Poole was in order, and the obvious place to obtain my piece of fret cloth. I had no idea where it was, but thought I would start from the harbour and ask some one. No need, there it was looking at me, with just a hand painted sign-written board outside saying "The Bird Organ Works". As I recall, it was nothing grand, but looked as if it had been, at some time, a coach house or boat yard.

The entrance was a Portland stone archway blocked with 2 huge wooden doors in need of a good coat of paint. In these doors was cut another smaller door that was ajar. I went in, looked around, and eventually a bloke appeared in a brown bib and brace type overall. I told him what I was after and he led me to an office, which was no bigger than my living room, with two or three people at desks etc. I asked at the office whether I could buy some grill cloth, and another chap in a suit said "come with me sir".

Off we went through a court yard with several rooms / workshops around the perimeter . I could see a small workforce assembling organs in one of the areas. In another was obviously a cabinet / carpenters shop with machinery and dust everywhere. It was all very much a relaxed atmosphere; not unlike a builders' yard.

I was taken into a store. I explained what I wanted, and was given sufficient grill cloth to do about 4 amps. I was told it was the same material as was used on some Lesley cabs. I dipped into my pocket looking at my small change, wondering how much the cloth was going to cost me. However, the nice man in the suit said I could have it "free-of charge" and that he was pleased to hear I was using a Bird Amplifier.

That was a long time ago and I never thought it would be history at the time. I wish now I had my camera and took some pictures. I would guess the workforce numbered 20 30 people. It was not a big factory as one would expect today.

John Beer


 

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