The Beale Piano

When, 25 years ago, the present managing director founded the Beale Piano Company, little did he anticipate the fame which that modestly started firm would in the near future acquire; that it has done so, that the firm has risen from such modest beginnings to the position it now occupies, capitalised for nearly half a million sterling, and enjoying a world-wide reputation, must be taken as an eloquent testimonial as to the value of the products of the hive of industry, situate near Sydney.

Mr. Octavius Charles Beale, managing director of the present company, was the founder of the original firm of Beale and Company. He has lived to see his life-long ambition fulfilled – has lived to see his sons trained to carry on the work which he started – and in the same spirit. For there are ideals of humanitarianism incorporated in the Beale ideas of efficient management. Always has it been the aim of the directors to have the Beale products manufactured in healthy surroundings by contented craftsmen. Such ideal conditions must result in superior products, and at all times the superior product is the one in which this concern is interested.

There is probably no piano factory In the world so completely self-contained as the Beale factory at Annandale, New South Wales. Certainly there is none in the British Empire that produces nearly so many of the original parts used in piano making. Owing to the absence of those piano – supply houses which, in Europe and America, supply spare parts to all the so-called piano factories, it has never been possible for Beale and Company to buy ready-made parts such as these houses furnish, and consequently they were, and are, manufactured on the spot. The desirability of this latter course is self-evident. From raw material to highly finished product, every stage of manufacture can be checked. Experimental alterations, special models, and a general cohesion of design and craftsmanship are permitted by such a policy – all things which tend to the constant improvement of the final product. The present Beale factory comprises a group of ten large buildings, two of which have each a floor space of 43,200 square feet, the main building standing back on a sloping lawn planted with giant Cocos Island palm trees and scarlet hibiscus. It is a mammoth place, looking more like an industrial college than a factory. So efficient is the company’s organisation that they have their own fleet of motor lorries, complete with a garage and a vast under-ground bowser system for storing petrol. Other departments include timber mills, joinery works, power houses, paint shops, a pattern shop, foundries, cabinet works, keyboard and veneer works, special drying kilns, dust-proof, polishing rooms, machine shops, an electro-plating department, player-piano work-shops with a foundry and experimental laboratories. The typical size of these various departments may be gauged by the size of the foundry alone – a department which is incorporated in only one other piano factory in the world. There are over 20 employees in the Beale foundry, producing every piece of cast work used in over 50,000 instruments made so far by the firm. The total staff includes over 500 operatives.

In the construction of the Beale piano many things are done in the ordinary way which most piano firms consider special processes. It is the only factory in the world which cuts veneers from the raw log. The company makes a big feature of working Australian timbers, although many woods not grown in Australia are imported, including walnut, spruce, English oak, etc. In the machine shop are to be seen many wonderful automatic machines, some of which have been designed and manufactured in their entirety by the company. The pianos themselves are constantly being sent off to Tasmania, New Zealand, China and Japan, to Java, India, and Africa. Most of them, however, have been sold in Australia, and it is a significant fact that the merit of the Beale instrument has been such that every passing year sees a larger number of Australians willing to give to their own countrymen that recognition which their craftsmanship deserves. Constant improvements, with continual efficiency and thoroughness, must be accounted as being in great measure the reasons back of the great success which this company has achieved within a brief quarter of a century.

The Beale Piano

Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), Thursday 6 July 1922, page 26

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About Scott

Scott spends most of his time as a piano tuner and technician. He enjoys playing with his band, "Short and Horny" for weddings and other celebrations. On Sunday morning, he can usually be found playing pipe organ for a local church service.