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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Knight Pianos

Alfred Knight was born into a family of piano makers - his great-great-grandfather worked for Broadwoods. While still at school he helped at the Hicks factory where in 1913, he began his apprenticeship. On the completion of his training he worked at Squire & Longson, where, the much respected Cremona piano was built. The pianos that were built under the name of Welmar were based on the Cremona designs.

Alfred Knight was involved in developing further these pianos. Working particularly on the iron frame design. He used a distinctively linear shape - a style he perfected later in his own Knight Pianos. 

In 1929 the Squire factory was destroyed by fire but was soon rebuilt. This was a difficult time for the industry, but despite the unpromising odds, in 1931, Alfred Knight set up a new business at Stoke Newington, Booker & Knight. By 1935, he was able to buy out Booker, calling the business the Knight Piano Co.

1955 the Knight Piano Co. moved to Loughton in Essex.

In the late 1950s, there were, in the UK, only 2 piano action manufacturers: Herburger Brooks, and British Piano Actions who were based in Llanelli in South Wales. The American owners of Herburger Brooks tried to buy British Piano Actions - a move which would have established a virtual monopoly.

It was Alfred Knight who formed an international consortium of piano makers so that the British Piano Actions could remain independent. Of course, a ‘British Piano Actions’ action was fitted to into Knight pianos until BPA was closed down. 

The Knight K10, in my opinion, remains one of the finest modern-style pianos ever made in England. The tone was bright and clear and the robust build-quality, no doubt partly due to the large and heavy iron frame, made it an excellent choice for schools and colleges.

The closure of the Knight Loughton factory was the close of perhaps, the most progressive chapters in the history of British Piano-making - even though, for a while the Knight pianos were made elsewhere.

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