MANDER ORGANS was founded by NOEL MANDER MBE FSA in 1936. There have been organ builders in his family since the 18th century. From modest beginnings, the firm expanded in the 1940s, undertaking the reconstruction of many organs which had been damaged in the Second World War. A number of important contracts had been completed by 1960, and Noel Mander's affection and appreciation for old organs gained the firm an unequalled reputation for their restoration. This was also the period when the classical revival in organ-building brought about many changes in the design and voicing of new organs including the re-introduction of mechanical action which had been all but abandoned. The crowning achievement of Noel Mander's work was the reconstruction of the organ in St Paul's Cathedral which set new standards in the approach to the rebuilding of large romantic instruments in Britain.
In 1978, Her Majesty the Queen made Noel Mander a Member of the Order of the British Empire in recognition for his services to organ building for over 50 years. He retired in 1983, leaving examples of his work in the Middle East, America and Africa, as well as closer to home. He also bequeathed an experienced team of organ builders, well able to further the high standards for which the firm had become known.
JOHN MANDER, who became managing director on the retirement of his father, served his apprenticeship with Rudolf von Beckerath of Hamburg in 1968 where he was instructed in all aspects of organ building including voicing and pipe-making. Following his three and a half year apprenticeship, that included the organ builders' course at the technical college dedicated to musical instrument making at Ludwigsburg, he remained with Beckerath to further his knowledge in voicing and organ design, culminating in the design of a choir organ for the Petrikirche in Hamburg. Following his return to London after five years in Hamburg, he worked in the drawing office where he was responsible for the conception and design of a number of small mechanical action organs. In 1979 he directed the historic reconstruction of the early 18th century organ at Pembroke College, Cambridge, spending many hours in painstaking research into the history of the organ.
In 1980 he returned to Germany to prepare for the Master Organ Builders' examination which he completed successfully in that year, making him one of the handful of builders with that qualification outside Germany. As managing director, he still takes an active part in the conception and realisation of the firm's work, frequently directing the tonal finishing of organs on site all over the world. For six years he served on the board of the International Society of Organ Builders and he is also a founder member of the Institute of British Organ Building which has been formed to further the education of organ builders in Britain. He lectures on a wide variety of topics associated with organ building, and is often called upon to advise on unequal temperaments, of which he has made a special study.