Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Stroud Piano Co

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of Woodchester Mills, Stroud, Gloucs. Telephone: Amberley 3243. Cables: "Piano Works, Woodchester"

1906 Production began in London. [1]

The enterprise, which was to become the Bentley Piano Co, was founded in London by Douglas Grover, already the third generation of Grover piano makers, as his father and grandfather also produced Grover and Grover pianos.

1911 Douglas Grover moved his fledgling business to a well-known landmark in the Cotswolds, Woodchester Mills near Stroud.

The company became known as the Stroud Piano Co Ltd, and production expanded in the 1920s, as construction of keyboards began in 1921.

1930 Douglas, now joined by his son Richard, launched a fresh overstrung design to be sold under the new Bentley name, followed four years later by a 4' 6" (1.37 m) grand. The Bentley models were an immediate success, so that during the 1930s the company became a major producer, with an annual output exceeding 3000 pianos.

1938 following a fire, the mill was rebuilt on a smaller scale and a further factory was acquired, which enabled the firm to become virtually self-sufficient for several decades, making actions, keys, hammers, soundboards, tuning planks and covered strings for its own pianos.

WWII. During the Second World War, production was switched to aircraft components and the first jet, the Gloster Meteor, contained parts made at the piano works.

Post-WWII. After the war, the national interest demanded that the complete output be exported. Richard Grover swiftly developed world-wide markets for Bentley pianos.

1947 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of "Bentley" Pianofortes of Modern Design small in size and of attractive appearance. Bentley "Studio-Minor" and "Bungalow" Models in Walnut, Mahogany, Oak. Bentley 4ft. 6in. (1.37m) Horizontal Grands in Walnut and Mahogany. (Olympia, Ground Floor, Stand No. C.1557) [2]

1962 David Grover, grandson of the founder, joined the business and spent a period training in the German piano industry.

1969 Richard Grover was awarded the MBE by Her Majesty the Queen for services to exports.

1979 A new building was added adjacent to the original mill, making possible later concentration on one site.

The 1980s witnessed Bentley pianos playing a full part in the reintroduction of period stylings, as the taller piano returned to favour.

1989 forty percent of the production area was destroyed by fire. The new building built on the historic site was opened by Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent in 1991. The traditional exterior recalls local mill architecture, while the interior facilitates modern production techniques, for the company has always been forward-looking.

1993 the Bentley Piano Co Ltd was acquired by another prestigious company, Whelpdale, Maxwell and Codd. Production was moved to the Clapham Park factory, where Bentleys were made, and follows the original specifications that create that unique Bentley sound.

2001 Bentley pianos moved back to Woodchester Mills to form part of the British Piano Manufacturing Company Ltd, along with Broadwood, Knight, Welmar, and Woodchester pianos.

2003 April: the British Piano Manufacturing Co. Ltd. went into voluntary liquidation, taking with it Bentley pianos. InterMusic of Pool Dorset, England have bought the Bentley piano name.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [2] UK Piano Page
  1. [1] The Virtual Pianoshop
  2. 1947 British Industries Fair p266