Barker, Charles Spackman

1806-1879

A famous English organ-builder. He was intended for the medical profession, but became interested in watching the erection of an organ under the direction of Bishop, the celebrated London builder, and decided to become an organ-builder himself. After a period of instruction under Bishop, he established himself in the town of Bath, his birthplace. Pondering on the difficulties experienced by players in overcoming the resistance of the keys, Barker thought out a way by which the resistance might be lessened, and brought forth the invention of the pneumatic lever. This invention received little consideration from English builders to whom it was offered, and in 1837 Baker journeyed to Paris, and presented himself to the celebrated organbuilder, Cavaille-Col. The worth of the invention was immediately recognized, and it was at once adopted. In France it. was soon put to use in various large organs, but came into use in England very gradually. Barker, in 1839, took out a patent for the pneumatic lever, and later a patent for electric action. In France, where he remained till 1870, he repaired and built many organs. At the Paris Exhibition of 1855 a gold medal was bestowed upon him and the Cross of the Legion of Honor. The war caus- ing him to leave France, he went to Dublin, and in this period built organs for cathedrals at Cork and Dublin. Barker's invention of the pneumatic lever brought about a revolution in the whole art of organ building.