Hill, Norman & Beard
- Nicholas Thistlethwaite
English firm of organ builders. It was founded in 1916 with the amalgamation of Wm. Hill & Son (see Hill family) and Norman & Beard Ltd of Norwich. Norman & Beard had been founded as ‘E.W. Norman, Organ Builder, Diss’ in about 1870. Ernest William Norman (1852–1927) had served a part-apprenticeship with J.W. Walker. After a few years he was joined in business by his brother, Herbert John Norman (1861–1936) and a premium apprentice, George Wales Beard. When Beard became a partner (c1886) the firm was known as ‘Norman Bros. & Beard’. By the end of the century they had a purpose-built works in Norwich, and reputedly employed 300 men.
The firm’s work was progressive. During the 1890s they sub-contracted for Robert Hope-Jones’s Electric Organ Co., and when it was obliged to close in 1899 they acquired his electric action patents. H.J. Norman also developed an exhaust-pneumatic action which was extensively used by the firm throughout the first half of the 20th century (its first successful application was in ...