Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

In 1935 Challen, one of Harringay's several piano manufacturers, built the largest piano in the world at their Hermitage Road factory. At 11 feet 8 inches long and weighing over one and quarter tons, the piano held its record till early this century.


Built to mark the King's 1935 Silver Jubilee, the piano was finished in silver and named the "great silver piano". It was first shown at the British Industries fair in the Jubilee year, where it was inspected by Queen Mary, and was played for her by Billy Mayerl.



The piano was acquired by Lord and Lady Montrous of Manchester and was used at a garden party for the Royal Family in 1936. However, because of its excessive weight apparently it sunk into the boggy ground and was later used as a garden.

See Billy Mayerl playing the piano here.

Tags for Forum Posts: challen silver jubilee piano, harringay pianos

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for stopping by to share, Julian. Great to hear the piano. 

Here's the factory site in 1934 (Click the picture to enlarge). So, Challen's "Most Modern Factory" must have been built just after. I wonder if the 1935 piano was in part a celebration of their new Harringay factory, part corporate boast.

An interesting thought! There’s a dearth of information on the web about the locations of Challen’s factories- I’ve just been looking - so this photo puts another piece in the jigsaw. Thanks!

Challen expanded to Kingsbury Works, Kingsbury Road in 1932 (Hyde area), but the factory was only really known for their Broadwood side of production. In this 1934 Omega factory picture you can see 'British Woodcrafts' painted on the Hermitage road wall, this was also a Challen holding and by 1938 a complete move had been made, with a new construction block finished where that sign is and as we know it today. The Broadwood arrangement also ended in 1938 and I reckon the No. 1 piano was Hendon in 1934/5 and ours (No. 2) at Omega a little later, as we know it was not delivered to Liverpool until WW2. What becomes confusing is where Challen were still using their old Archer Street, Camden factory address for general enquiries right through to 1938, then everything went to the single Omega address - consolidated! 

Thanks for all the extra info!

I see there is a petition to save the historic works, a hive of activity, signed!



After seeing your drawing last week, and before I knew about the petition, I wrote to the curator of Bruce Castle Museum, asking her opinion about whether we might get the building listed either locally of nationally. 

Super, would be nice to take the piano there (with Julian...) for an evocative recital. I see on google books: The Estates Gazette, Volume 174, July 1959 has an advert for the sale of the Challen piano works of 60,000 sq ft.

I’d love to go there and play!

I'd have thought that could be arranged! It would be a wonderful string to their campaign bow!

I've heard back from the Bruce Castle curator and, lest I end up immersing her in any political hot water, probably best keep her reply off the airwaves, but let's say she wasn't at all discouraging and has given me avenues to follow-up.




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