- Margaret Cranmer
English firm of piano makers. It was founded by Robert Stodart (b Walston, Lanarks., bap. 19 July 1748; d Edinburgh, 10 March 1831) in 1775 when he set up his own harpsichord- and piano-making business in Wardour Street, London. He was tuning harpsichords for John Broadwood before 1772 (he was previously apprenticed to an engineer in Dalkeith) and had assisted Broadwood and Americus Backers in inventing the English grand action (see Pianoforte, §I, 4 and fig.); in 1777 he patented a combination instrument, which included the earliest patent for this action (see Harpsichord-piano). Some of his grand pianos survive including one from 1781 at Heaton Hall, Manchester, which is five octaves in compass with an undivided, single-pinned, harpsichord-type bridge and three metal gap spacers to strengthen the gap between the soundboard and the wrest plank. One square piano by him survives with a five-octave compass and the English single action....