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Organic growth in Bayswater

IF you believe craftsmanship no longer has any place in the business lexicon, pay a call on John Larner and Graham Devenish.

Among the benches in their cluttered Bayswater workshop the talk is of wind chests and valves, reeds and registers. The partners painstakingly restore and create pipe organs by hand for churches, schools or your own lounge room. Their skills include metal work, graphic design and cabinet making. The timbers they use range from jarrah and Tasmanian oak to King Billy pine and rare Malaysian woods.

John Larner has been building organs for 40 years. Graham Devenish gave up fulltime music teaching to join him last year.

Why not strike a blow against the throwaway society and buy one of their continuo organs with three “stops” or sets of pipes? The instrument is smaller than a piano, can be lifted by two people, and would set you back about $29,000. A pipe organ, not to be confused with amplified electronic mimics, is likely to appreciate in value, perhaps outpacing the stock market.

In fact, if you sold your Newscorp shares closer to $28 than the more recent $18, run do not walk to the workshop, where a brace of larger second hand organs are going for a Baroque song at $90,000. Better yet, have them custom build you a $200,000 plus job for the Dalkeith drawing room.

Anyone with keyboard skills – that’s musical not computer – can play the organ.

There has been something of a renaissance in pipe organs in recent years, particularly in Japan and South East Asia. Messrs. Larner and Devenish hope to clinch some export orders while the Aussie dollar is at its pianissimo level.

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