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Sunday, 19 January 2014

Welmar Pianos

The story of the Welmar piano begins at the end of the first world war. The hardships of the post-war economy gave the piano trade an uphill struggle as it sought to re-establish sales and profitability. Whelpdale and Maxwell began business in 1876 importing Bluthner pianos from Germany and until the war, they had built a strong business on the qualities of the Bluthner pianos. In 1919, the public were now unhappy about buying German pianos, and Whelpdale & Maxwell had to find an alternative source of income until the mood against German pianos had softened.

Cremona Ltd. of Camberwell, London, made pianos for the trade and used names like Squire & Longson, Ronson and Paul Newman. In 1919 Whelpdale & Maxwell commissioned Cremona Ltd to make pianos using the trade name Welmar.

The Cremona team continued to develop and improve their pianos - particularly the metal frame and the soundboard. But in 1929, disaster hit when the factory was burnt down. The company never recovered from the catastrophy and closed the business in 1934.

Whelpdale Maxwell & Codd (as it now was), managed to acquire the Cremona designs, jigs and templates and began making Cremona-designed pianos but using the Welmar name at a new factory at Clapham Park Road. 

Production continued at Clapham until 2001, when, at an extremely difficult time for the piano trade, all was moved for a short time, to Stroud in Gloucestershire.

The Welmar piano has always been appreciated by serious piano players and students. They were built with the Bluthner tone in mind, by craftsmen devoted to the art of piano-building. Welmar pianos are unanimously highly thought-of by all piano tuners - which, as tuners are generally hard to please - is no small accolade!


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3 comments:

  1. Always thought Welmar's ok, but have a Guardian article from 70's calling them "the Austin Maestro of pianos!"

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  2. Hi Alan, I looked up the Guardian article - thought the guy's tone was a bit harsh. I agree that the British Piano suffered a massive and swift demise in the face of imported pianos. Good examples of a Welmar or a Knight will be very fine pianos - not really to be thought of as the Austin Maestro of pianos. Good job he didn't compare a Welmar to an Austin Allegro - That would have been an insult!

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  3. I have a 5x5 foot grand from about 1926. It no longer holds its tune but the sound is still good. Is it worth restoring?

    Stephen Taylor

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