William Drake (organ builder)

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William Drake (1943–2014) was the founder of the firm of William Drake, Organ Builder that manufactures pipe organs in Buckfastleigh, Devon, England. He held a Royal Warrant as organ builder to Queen Elizabeth II.


Drake was born 1947 in Baltimore, Maryland to an English father and mother of Swiss-American citizenship. Returning to England in 1952 on the death of his father he was educated at Dartington College of Arts where he learned the organ under John Wellingham.

He was inspired to become an organ builder following a visit as a teenager to the exhibition of newly built organs at St Albans International Organ Festival at St Albans Abbey. After completing an apprenticeship in Austria with Rieger Orgelbau he worked with Rudolf Janke in Göttingen. He built a small award-winning organ as his Meisterstuck in the workshop of Patrick Collon in Brussels.

Drake established the firm of William Drake Ltd in 1974 in Buckfastleigh, Devon. The company was part of the John Loosemore Centre for Organ and Early Music - an entity that taught a number of subjects concerning the organ - such as playing of the organ, history, and organ-building. Eventually that program was discontinued, but Drake's organ-building firm continued in the premises.

William Drake Ltd has built new organs and restored instruments in a number of countries, including New Zealand and the United States. For the design of instruments, the firm takes its inspiration from English organs of the 18th and 19th centuries. Organs built by Drake's company are mechanical action instruments and restorations adhere to high standards of historical accuracy.

William Drake died on 11 January 2014, aged 70. Today the business continues under the direction of Geert Noppers and Joost de Boer, who have been members of the staff for many years.[1]

Selected organs[edit]


  1. ^ outerbridge. "Information about William Drake, Master Organ Builder". William Drake Ltd. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  2. ^ "The National Pipe Organ Register - NPOR". npor.org.uk. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  3. ^ "The Organ". Jesus College, Oxford. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d outerbridge. "Reconstructed & renovated organs". William Drake Ltd. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  5. ^ "The National Pipe Organ Register - NPOR". npor.org.uk. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  6. ^ "The National Pipe Organ Register - NPOR". npor.org.uk. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  7. ^ "Columns No 37" (PDF). The Friends of Christ Church Spitalfields. Spring 2014. Retrieved 23 July 2015.

External links[edit]