Orchestrion in Kinloch Castle, Isle of Rum, Report by Douglas King

This instrument was originally constructed by Imhof & Muckle of Vohrenbach near Baden in the Black Forest in or around 1900. Apparently it was built for Queen Victoria who planned to install it in Balmoral Castle, but she died before it was complete. It was then erected in the manufacturer's showroom in New Oxford Street, London until it was purchased and installed under the stairs at Kinloch Castle in 1906. Because it was altered to fit under the stairs, nothing of the original cabinet remains.

In addition to numerous organ pipes, the instrument has a bass and snare drum, triangle and cymbal, giving the impression of a full orchestra. The era of the orchestrion, which began slowly in 1852, reached its height by 1900. This was only terminated by the effects of the First World War, and the invention of the gramophone.

Kinloch Castle Friends Association arranged for the Organ Builder, Michael Macdonald of Glasgow to inspect the orchestrion, and report on its condition. Michael is the leading expert on such instruments in Scotland, having just restored an older orchestrion in the Kelvingrove Gallery in Glasgow. This work was only completed at the beginning of July, 2006.

Despite the fact that it has had minimal maintenance over the past 100 years, the orchestrion was found to be in excellent overall condition. The most serious problem is an outbreak of woodworm infestation which will necessitate it being dismantled and the affected areas treated. It also requires to be thoroughly cleaned, brittle leather replaced, windtrunks of wood and cardboard overhauled, and leakages made sound. Once all this is done, it will have to adjusted, pipework regulated, and finely tuned. Some parts will have to be removed to the mainland for overhaul.

It is hoped that this work can be done as part of the castle restoration, if not beforehand.

Douglas King, Honorary Secretary, Kinloch Castle Friends Association, 18 July 2006.