Saturday, 13 November 2021

Danemann

The beginnings of the Danemann Piano Co. is a refreshingly different story from the usual. W. Danemann was not a talented piano builder who wanted to set up his own factory. W. Danemann was a young German Architect who had taken British Citizenship sometime during the 1890s. He was in business as a furniture maker at Alderney Street, Pimlico.

His furniture generated wide approval and respect, so that a firm of piano makers asked him to design piano cases for a series of pianos. He gave the work his customary detailed attention and produced the commissioned drawings and submitted them along with his account for the work. Meanwhile the company had gone out of business and he was never paid.
After meeting with the liquidators, he agreed to buy the failed business for a price that reflected his unpaid-for work. With no prior knowledge of piano construction, he, almost overnight, made himself a piano manufacturer.

W. Danemann established the business in 1893 at Northampton Street, Islington. For the first 55 years of business they made pianos for the music trade. Music shops would put their own name on the fallboard, a very common practice in the early 1900s.

In 1934, an agreement between the Halifax based firm of Poulmann & Son, and the Danemann Co. whereby all the Poulmann designs, jigs etc. were moved to the Danemann factory and Poulmann pianos would now be made in London. 

The Poulmann pianos were highly regarded - especially the stringing scale, which became the template for the Danemann pianos. After the war, Danemanns decided no longer to make pianos for the trade but rather to make pianos with their own name on them. 

During the 1970s, 80% of their output was pianos for schools! These solidly-built, large oak pianos were ruggedly reliable and were by far, better than any of the pianos made for schools at the time.

1982 Tom Danemann sold the business to Broadwoods but even they could not make the Northampton Street premises profitable. July 1984 the Official Receiver was called in. And then the Gardner family from Cardiff offered to buy the Danemann name, designs and goodwill. Everything was transported to Cardiff and production continued there until 1994. 



©Steve Burden




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