Dedicated to L
You’ll remember I recently got some details about my grandmother’s life to add to my meagre stock of family history. I sent a copy of the post to my cousin, and yesterday she sent me a selection from the treasure trove of story she’s been patiently building for years.
You’ll remember too that the father of my grandmother, Eunice, forbade her from falling in love with her first cousin, Percival. This is he, my great-grandfather. His name is James Robert Kilvert and that’s his son, Walter, my grandmother’s brother.
James was born in 1861 and died in 1939, aged 78. His son, Walter, must have been born in 1897, and the date of his death is unknown.
Walter, returning from four years’ service in World War One aged 21, with an artificial leg and a jingle about being gassed, continued in the family tradition of piano-making.
In a newspaper article, Walter is called a “Musical Philosopher” and described as making hammers for pianos that “have power without clang” and “are sharp on the nose to bring out a bright tone”.
In the article he offers his view on the reasons for the decline of the piano business, a decline that coincided with the end of the war: the “wireless” and “hire purchase”. He also offers his remedy for recovering “Merrie England”:
You know, I walk round the streets at night listening for the sound of a piano, but the only time I hear it is inside a pub on a Saturday night … We’ve got to get back to the home life! Why has it gone down? Because the piano is going down.
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