John Blaber's Family - The English Years: 1906 - 1988

Page last updated: 23 January 2015


John Arthur Blaber

My father, Edward William, was born in Cranbrook, Kent, on 22 February 1906 (His father, Amos, was born in Lewes, East Sussex, England). He died aged 93, on 1st July 1999.

My mother, Edith, was born in Acton, London, on 29 December 1910. She died of cancer on 3 June 1979

My parents were married at Christ Church, Reading, Berkshire, on 29 July 1933.

My older brother was Gordon Stuart Blaber. He married Barbara Ann, and they had two daughters, Sara Jane and Carol Ann. Gordon sadly passed away very unexpectedly on Friday 14th May 2010, peacefully in his sleep.

I was born in the south west of England. We lived there until 1949 when the family moved to Slough, Berkshire, where my father had started a new job at ICI Paints Division.

At the age of 11 I was appointed organist at St. John's Church, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire (also choirmaster from age 14) and assistant organist at St Giles' Church, Stoke Poges (famous for Thomas Gray's Elegy in a Country Churchyard) where the organ was built by Spurden Rutt in 1938, and rebuilt by John Conyers in 1963 with additional stops and improved action. Click here for full specification.

My organ tutors were Miss Georgie Gibbons (organist and choir mistress of St John's, Stoke Poges until she retired and I was appointed to the position), Ernest Marshall ARCO (organist and choirmaster of St Giles', Stoke Poges); Tom Gascoigne FRCO (Royal School of Church Music Commissioner, and organist and choirmaster of Beaconsfield Parish Church); and Philip Moore FRCO (then organist and assistant music master at Eton College, now Director of Music at York Minster). My choral training was at the Bucks School of Music, High Wycombe, and various courses at the Royal School of Church Music.

New organ at St John's, FC

In 1967 I was appointed organist and choirmaster at St. John's Church, Farnham Common, and presided over the design and installation of a new 2-manual pipe organ in the church in 1969, built by Robert Slater & Son. Click here for full specification. The Inaugural Recital was given by Philip Moore (who was by then sub-organist at Canterbury Cathedral). Myrtle was a member of the choir.

(Picture to left: John Blaber at the console on the dedication of the new organ at St John's Church, Farnham Common, October 1969. To the left is the Bishop of Buckingham, and on the right is Mr Edwin Charles Jubb, who paid for the organ, in memory of his wife, Emily).

I married Myrtle in St. John's, Farnham Common in February 1970.

(Photograph on the right shows Myrtle and myself, with the choir, after our wedding - note the snow!).

John & Myrtle's wedding
St Mary's Church, Slough

I was appointed organist and choirmaster of St. Mary's Parish Church, Slough, February 1976. St. Mary's is a very large church with a superb 3-manual Hill, Norman and Beard pipe organ with pneumatic action, originally built in 1912, but rebuilt with additional stops in 1968. Click here for full specification

(Photograph to the left: St Mary's Church. Slough).

RadioI played this organ both on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Television. The church had an all-male choir at that time. During this period, I also played services at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, during summers when the resident organist and choir were on holiday.

(Photograph to the right: John Blaber at the console at St Mary's Slough in 1979).

John Blaber at St Mary's Slough

In 1980 the family moved to Kidderminster, Hereford & Worcestershire and I was appointed organist and choirmaster at Hartlebury Parish Church (St. James), where there was an interesting 'three-manual' tracker action pipe organ built by Nicholson of Worcester. Click here for full specification.

Organ at St Mary's Disley

1984 we moved to Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, when I became Sales Manager of John Crane UK Ltd. in Wythenshawe, Manchester. I was appointed organist and choirmaster of the beautiful parish church of St. Mary's, Disley, Cheshire, where there was a lovely 3-manual mechanical action pipe organ, on the west end gallery, built originally by Samuel Renn in 1836. I had this organ rebuilt by Rushworth & Dreaper, Organ Builders from Liverpool. Work was completed in June 1985. Click here for full specification.

(Photograph to left: the organ at St. Mary's, Disley, taken after completion of the 1985 rebuild. The red pipeshades were also added, to match the beautifully carved wooden ceiling).

In 1988 we moved to Scotland.

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2015 John Arthur Blaber