50 Years

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John Nixon

John Nixon was born in Biddulph Moor and educated at Biddulph Moor Primary School and Knypersley Hall Secondary School. He showed an early aptitude for mechanical engineering and joined the staff at Polarcold in Congleton. However, a serious work-related accident in 1988 left him disabled and effectively ended his career but he found light work at a Congleton fitness centre where he was employed to assemble and service equipment.

Being a confirmed bachelor, however, he was able to give full rein to his passion for so-called mechanical music machines. He had badges commemorating steam rallies all over the country dating back to 1962. He purchased his first wind-up gramophone in 1973 - and never stopped acquiring more and more examples of devices to produce music from the days before electricity.

From 1977, John was a familiar sight at steam rallies, charity events and weddings dressed in flat cap, waistcoat, red neckerchief and clogs with his 19th century street barrel piano, becoming known as "Cloggy" and "The Music Man".

He built his own organ shed in 1986 to house his ever-growing collection and began inviting friends from around the country to enjoy the music. On the Good Friday bank holiday in 1992, John staged the first of his Open Days, which proved so popular that it became an annual event, many visitors saying that it was through him that they first became interested in mechanical music.

Following his accident, John started touring the country to attend rallies and shows, later becoming a regular traveller as a crew member with the Show Organ Society's Whites Mammoth Gavioli fairground organ. In recent years, although still a regular at events, he spent more time in his workshop, where although only a hobby, he was an accomplished blacksmith.

A stalwart member of the Fair Organ Preservation Society, John was a great worker for charity and was well know for his wry sense of humour and his catch phrase "Just be good".


It is with great sadness we have to report that mechanical music enthusiast and collector, John Nixon died on the 4th July 2009. A private family funeral was held on the 11th July.

A memorial event was held on Saturday, 26th September 2009 at Biddulph Moor Village Hall. A large gathering of over 200 people attended throughout the day, where pictures of John's life were displayed around the hall and John's favourite fair organ and mechanical music were played.

Just before 7pm, a 30 minute video was shown of John's Open Day in March 2005 and the evening was concluded by playing "God be with you", recorded on Whites Gavioli, on which John spent many happy hours travelling as a crew member.

John's family would like to thank everyone for their kind words, prayers, cards, flowers and many offers of help.

His collection was auctioned on the 21st November 2009. An information sheet can be downloaded HERE.

Download Memorial Poster (800Kb PDF)

View John's open day DVD information