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November 19, 2019 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Park gramophone & its discs

Family of W O Foster (1814-1899) family sledging in Apley Park

Kämmer & Reinhardt toy gramophone, c.1890

Its 15 five inch discs

I really only now have the time to write my blog very rarely & when something really extraordinary happens.

I work on a few things at once & the Apley Archives is an ongoing & never-ending project.

This is our latest archival discovery: In a recent clear out, we found [in a workshop, waiting to be fixed] a very early gramophone used in Apley Park (the house, now known locally as Apley Hall), with 15 discs.

I’ve recently visited the Bate Collection of Musical Instruments in Oxford, so asked them who could play the discs.

I finally found an expert (Norman Field*) who lives relatively locally, who is very knowledgeable on this subject. We met, I handed over the gramophone & discs, he took it away, made the recordings & handed it back to me. I came away knowing 100% more than I did at the beginning of the day & delighted to hear these very rare & almost globally unique recordings which I’m sharing here.

We have lots of photos, paintings & belongings of the house & its residents over the centuries, but silence. No recordings of either the sounds they made (speaking, singing, playing) or the sounds the heard. So I was keen to get these 15 discs played. Naturally, I thought it would have been in the drawing room & therefore the discs would have been of music recordings. But actually the very early gramophones of which this is one, were toys, played in nurseries.

A big THANK YOU, MR FIELD ! This is such valuable research & so interesting !

Click HERE to hear God Save the Queen (Queen Victoria), Auld Lang Syne & Rule Britannia. Other recordings are listed below which I’ll add asap.

Below I’ve pasted Mr Field’s “Final Report on [the Apley Park] Kämmer & Reinhardt toy gramophone ca.1889 – 1892, and the fifteen 5″ Berliner discs which accompany it.”

The above hand-wound machine is generally agreed to be the first ‘gramophone’ to be marketed in the U.K. The concept of sound recorded on a disc had been patented in the U.S.A. in 1887 by Emile Berliner, a young German engineer who had gone there around 1850. However, his brother had a factory back in Germany (Hanover) which was involved in making technical equipment, mostly electrical & to do with telephones. Therefore it made sense to do marketing development & early production work in Germany. As a consequence, the above machine was evolved. It was intended as a children’s toy, rather than the serious ‘musical instrument’ it was later to become. The discs were just under 5″ diameter, and bore a spiral groove in which the sound waves had been laterally impressed. It was manufactured by the toy company Kämmer & Reinhardt, between late 1889 and 1892. British examples, such as the one above, were imported by Parkins & Gotto of Oxford Street, London, W.

Toy it may have been; but since the ‘Gramophone outfit’ cost £1 including 12 discs, it was essentially a toy for the children of the upper classes. £1 was more than a week’s wages for e.g. a factory worker at the time. Nevertheless, some quantity of these machines were sold, so they do figure in museum collections of the higher order.

There is an on-line resource in France which has compiled an extensive listing of these 5″ discs, and short extracts of many of them have been uploaded & can be heard there. We have, naturally, consulted that site extensively:

The listing suggests there were something like 150 discs in German; around 50 in English; up to maybe 50 in French, and perhaps 20 or 30 in Spanish. A possible grand total of around 300 discs may thus have been issued, it is assumed, mostly between 1889 and 1892. (However, the company might have continued putting out records for some time after the gramophones themselves were no longer being sold.) There are many gaps in the listing, but around 170 titles are actually identified, mostly German material.

There is a consensus that these discs require playing at between 100 and 150 rpm. The problem is, that there are very few musical instruments to be heard. The discs are mostly of unaccompanied speech and song, and the latter don’t have to be in any specific musical key. Still, we had to begin somewhere, so found on the Archeophone site an extract of a piano solo on Berliner 121 ‘Bierwalzer’. Archeophone have their sample in E flat; so as they are a distinguished authority, we converted the Hamilton copy of ‘Bierwalzer’ to E flat. It sounds a little fast, but taking it down much further makes it too slow. (Of course, almost all of this is conjecture & can never be proved as in a court of law.)

One extremely curious thing emerged in this brief study. If transferred at a standard speed, which I did, using 78.26 revolutions per minute, all these Berliners lasted around a minute.

So be it. But the funny thing was, while quite a lot of them did need to be jacked up from 78 to around 112 – 120 rpm to sound plausible, there were a few that sounded quite promising even at 78; and these required very little speed increase – perhaps only 15 or 20% to sound OK. In that case, the resulting sound file was well towards a minute long, as opposed to ~35 seconds for the ‘faster’ sides.

We are therefore faced with the bewildering concept that, assuming a diligent child – i.e. a girl 8^) – has been put in charge of hand-winding the Kämmer & Reinhardt Gramophone, she will do this in a dedicated fashion, and adjust the speed of her winding, so that what emerges from the little horn is intelligible, and more or less in its correct pitch.

The further consequence of this is, of course, that with this type of hand wound gramophone, the speed at which the disc was originally recorded is entirely irrelevant; a good operator would automatically set very near the correct pitch, by their rate of winding.

Here is a list of the 15 discs, with a short comment against each one:

Cat No.                                  Title

26               Twinkle Twinkle Little Star                   Spoken.

Always reputed to have been spoken by Emile Berliner, the inventor of the gramophone. Sound quite good. He is usually said to have a pronounced German accent, but I can’t hear it. Suspect it’s a myth; after all, he had lived in the U.S.A. for twenty years…

28               Morning Hymn (Awake my Soul)          Spoken.

This disc plays well, but the speech is rather fuzzy due to the poor upper frequency response. It only extends to just over 1000 Hz. The mechanical system was always limited to about 200 – 2500 Hz on discs. (That is what today, is called ‘Telephone Quality’; it enables accurate transmission of information by speech, without excessive ‘High Quality’ that adds nothing to the intelligibility, and indeed, may sometimes detract from it.)  

29               Jack & Jill, Tom, Tom &c                        Spoken.

Archeophone have this disc on their site, but there is no sample of it. I thought it might well be by a girl or young woman, so chose that option.

30               Mary Had a Little Lamb + Humpty Dumpty

This plays fairly well; the speaker has a distinct English dialect: listen to how he says ‘agayne’ at the end of Humpty Dumpty. Archeophone don’t have this disc on their site, only the title.   

35               Who Killed Cock Robin                           Spoken.

Alas, not in very good condition.

36               Sing a Song of Six Pence (sic)                 Spoken.

I might have transferred this too slow… the general quality is poor, and I had to repair a couple of ‘skip grooves’.

37               Old Mother Hubbard                               Spoken.

A good ‘forward’ recording, but alas the disc is quite badly worn.

41               For You, For You My Darling                 Sung – Bb.

This singer seems to have a fairly high voice; I’ve followed the example of Archeophone and put him in B flat. 

42               Auld Lang Syne                                        Sung.

At last a good clear recording. Though unaccompanied, the song is published in G, which seems to work quite well. The singer is rather ‘Dickensian’? Archeophone have this title, but have seen no disc.

45 -1           Voix Animaux                                           Imitations.

45 -2           Voix Animaux                                           Imitations.

Two copies of this. The one I sent before was I think too fast.  -1 above is more plausible, while -2 is probably too slow.

48               Rule Britannia                                         Sung.

This is usually in the key of G, so used that. The singer is    enthusiastic if slightly wobbly. But it comes over well in spite of the wear.

88               God Save the Queen                                Brass quintet.

This is actually from the German catalogue. Its written key is F, so have used that. Of course, there were all sorts of variations in ‘standard pitch’ within Europe, but usually not large enough to cause serious problems.

121             Bierwalzer                                                 Piano – Eb.

An astonishingly good recording – the piano was notoriously difficult to record under the old mechanical system. How they made it this good in 1890, I have no idea!  

164             Le Père La Victoire                                  Sung, key of C.

Alas, the record is fairly badly worn; C is the published key, but our ami Français might have sung it an almost any key in 1890. But it sounds reasonable at this speed. Archeophone lists the title, but have not seen a disc.            

Also in this email is a complete set of the 15 mp3s, and also with this report will come some images – I think I lost a couple somewhere, sorry, but the fronts are rather boring anyway – the backs are interesting because most of them have the words printed there.

*Norman Field is a member of the CLPGS is the City of London Phonograph & Gramophone Society

September 11, 2019 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Children’s engineering workshop at Marches Centre of Manufacturing

This summer, I discovered the Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology in Stanmore Park near Bridgnorth.

It is full of really exciting businesses – hidden behind trees in a country setting & not at all what you might expect !

They offered the venue for a super summer engineering holiday club week for children aged 9-13, which was organised by Jing Lu of the Black Country Atelier The Black Country Atelier runs Smart Product Design & Manufacturing courses.

This summer at Stanmore, children made & tested a remote-control plane, as well as built & programmed a robot to compete in challenges.

Click HERE for the full brochure we received. It was such as fab opportunity for young, bright minds !

I truly believe in general we underestimate our children’s abilities, so am always delighted to find interesting activities for the [very!] long & frequent school holidays !

MCMT (the the Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology) runs training & engineering apprenticeships for school leavers all year round.

It works with local companies, schools & universities, running training workshops to help young people have the right skills for work & whilst in work.

Their 2 huge & very impressive centres in Bridgnorth & Shrewsbury, covering metrology, automation, robotics & Computer Numerical Control (CNC).

With this concentration of awesome engineering expertise which one sees at Stanmore, the Severn Valley should be the UK’s engineering equivalent of Silicon Valley!

For further info, contact:

August 6, 2019 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Smoked Pheasant wins another national award

Apley Smoked Phesasnt has just won TWO stars in the Great Taste Awards 2019.  The much sought after awards are run annually by the highly regarded Guild of Fine Food.

Read below what the judges said. Click HERE to buy some online (£7 for a TWIN pack, £4 for single pack). Or drop in to Apley Farm Shop (open 7 days a week). It’s also always available in our Ploughman’s Lunches in our Creamery Cafe. Just drop in or call us to book a table, 01952 581 002.

The very prestigious House of Bruar in Scotland also stock it.

Bravo for our Apley Estate staff & Macneil’s Smokehouse who work so hard all year round to make this product available.

It’s just been featured in the Shooting Gazette, detailing the production process, from field to fork.

Apley Lemon Drizzle Cake also won 2 stars this year. We have previously won awards for many other products, most notably our mince pies which fly off our shelves at Christmas time.

August 6, 2019 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Lemon Drizzle Cake wins award

Apley Farm Shop’s much loved Lemon Drizzle Cake has just won TWO stars in the Great Taste Awards 2019.  The much sought after awards are run annually by the highly regarded Guild of Fine Food.

Read below what the judges said. Click HERE to buy some online or drop in to the farm shop (open 7 days a week). It’s also always available in our Creamery Cafe. Just drop in or call us to book a table, 01952 581 002

Bravo for our super bakery staff !

Apley Smoked Pheasant also won 2 stars this year. We have previously won awards for many other products including our mince pies which fly off our shelves at Christmas time.

Table 4: Attractive home-made looking cake. High quality ingredients. Golden cake. Perfectly cooked and easy to cut. Moist to the look and to eat. Well balanced fresh lemon favour and while the icing is very sweet its proportion to the cake is good. “please can I have some more”.

Table 99G: A good little cake, with a homemade look and a good, egg-yolk, colour to the sponge. The icing is a little clumsy but we love the zest!  The aroma is very fresh in lemon zestiness.  The sponge is soft and very buttery.  It feels as if the sponge has been soaked in lemon syrup. We love it where the syrup is intense under the icing. As a mouthful – icing, lemon, butter – this is delicious. A tasty, honest cake.

Table R2: A very attractive cake with a delicious citrus zingy icing that is the making of this cake. The cake itself lacked the zingy flavouring that we were hoping for and had a slightly synthetic aftertaste. More of that delicious flavour throughout would make this a really spectacular cake.

Table 2: Rich and lemony and moist and ‘curdy’.  This rustic looking cake does exactly as it says in the description.  Delish!


August 6, 2019 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Instagram workshop at Apley Farm Shop

If you struggle with taking good pictures of your products, styling them and showing them off in the best light, or knowing how to use them and what to say with them, then this day is for you.

Instagram Inspiration Workshop, Friday 4th October 2019 10am-5pm @ Apley Farm Shop

with Jen Eastwood from Rock Rose Digital and Karen HB, Food Photographer.
This full day workshop will guide you through everything you need to know about content creation.

From photography, styling and props to content planning, captions and finding your brand voice.
A seasonal lunch in the farm shop cafe, refreshments and worksheets will be provided.
You’ll leave full of instagram inspiration and all of the tools, tips and tricks you need make your products shine on social – just in time for Christmas.
Early bird 20% offer is available until 16th August and places are limited.
It’s perfect for anyone with a food, drink or product based business, but if you’re not sure ask Karen and she’ll be able to advise.

Please click HERE for more information and to book your spot.

We hope to see you there. Please email Karen on with any queries.

Jen and Karen

June 19, 2019 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Shooting Gazette article features Apley Smoked Pheasant

There are so many people I have to thank who have helped me get Apley Smoked Pheasant launched, that rather than single them out & risk omitting or offending anyone, I’d rather just say a HUGE & collective thank you to them all. They know who they are (this is sounding like a wedding speech!) & I’m sooooo grateful to them all.

A few key things for me about Apley Smoked Pheasant include the fact that it’s ready to eat, quick & convenient & tastes soooo different to any pheasant you’ve ever tasted before (some mistake it for duck). Also, that that it’s available all year round, so rather than getting fed up with game in season, it can be enjoyed all year round. Besides, it’s a fab summer food. This means we have to break with our strong ethos of eating according to what’s in season, but with game, it’s worth being flexible! Most importantly, I’d say (but then I would!) it’s the best way to enjoy the meat from huge quantities of pheasants being shot every year. I love food & hate waste, so got fed up hearing about how much was being wasted every year. Plus it’s free range & an awesomely healthy food !

Lastly & just in case you were wondering, I don’t (& never have or wish to) shoot pheasants (or anything) myself !

If you’d like to try some, please just click HERE. If you have any queries, just email me HERE.

June 13, 2019 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Deep cleaning our Creamery Cafe

Our cafe & kitchen staff have been busy deep cleaning our Creamery Cafe (5 star rating).  It’s really important our customers know how much goes on behind the scenes to bring delicious meals 7 days a week into our Creamery Cafe. We have improvements coming soon which we think our customers will enjoy & appreciate!

May 17, 2019 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Experiences, Cake bakery course

Have you ever wanted to improve your cake baking skills ?

Steve Watts took these super photos & film of our latest Apley Experience – the Cake bakery course led by the Good Food School (Lynne & Victoria).

If interested, just click HERE & we will email you as soon as we have a date for our next course. We need to know your allergies, ability levels & interests please.

On Wednesday, they made a Gin & Lime cake, Salt Caramel layered cake, Chocolate & ginger cookies and scones (if time had allowed they would have made Apple & Raspberry Loaf with clotted cream).

The course took place in our Conference Room, using ovens in our Apley Bakery & Deli Production Kitchen.

Click HERE to watch the film.

From the feedback I’ve heard, I think some very happy participants took home some very delicious cakes!



May 16, 2019 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Beautiful food photography by KarenHB

I simply have to share this beautiful food photography by a very talented Shropshire food photographer, KarenHB, who is very local to Apley Farm Shop.

Our local asparagus is truly scrummy, but her photos make it look all the more so! Find it for sale of course in Apley Farm Shop’s Food Hall, open 7 days pw.

Here’s what Karen says about herself on her website:

I’m a keen cook and I love food.  I work from my studio in Shropshire where I photograph and style the food myself.  I work for Specialty Food Companies, food Producers, Restaurants and Farm Shops and anyone wanting their products photographed in a lifestyle setting. I live with my family and an assortment of dogs, sheep, hens and pigs on a farm in Shropshire. My very practical husband has converted an old barn into an office and studio where I do 90% of my work.

Good images are key to marketing a business, and I enjoy working with clients to understand their exact requirements. Whether you are looking for product shots or lifestyle images, photos for social media, your website or for printed materials, I can make sure you have the image bank you can rely on.​

History & Education

I have been working as a photographer for 20 years, following a BA in photography which I finished in 1998. Initially I was based in London and focused on travel & reportage. I spent a lot of time in South America and worked for Christian Aid on projects out in Africa as well as being involved in a long term project with the Photographers’ Gallery photographing in London schools. I fell into food when I met my husband who ran a food company and persuaded me to help with the photography.

I have had many clients over the last 20 years from aid agencies to newspapers, stock libraries to shoe companies. Here are four food companies that seem to be the most relevant: 

HILLTOP HONEY: Delicious organic honey farmed in Wales. I have photographed their product and lifestyle shots for a few years. You can find Hilltop Honey in hundreds of independent farm shops and delis, as well as Tesco and Sainsburys.

APLEY FARM SHOP: Based in Norton, Shropshire, this fabulous farm shop and cafe has the most colourful of local and organic produce, and hold regular foodie events, both of which I have had the pleasure of photographing.

PARTRIDGES: This is one of the most prestigious London grocer’s and holds the Royal Warrant. For several years, I photographed their luxurious food hampers and designed their catalogue.

COTSWOLD FAYRE: They are wholesale food distributors for over 220 suppliers. I photographed their products, created adverts and designed their catalogues between 2003 and 2009.

If you like my work please get in touch. Most of my work comes from speciality food brands but I am open to collaborations too.  I am particularly keen to find brands who are concerned with sustainability and are gentle on the planet. I do love to follow a recipe so please contact me if you have recipes you would like transformed into images, I’m very keen to do a cookbook. 

Click HERE to contact Karen.  Or call 07971 480 365.

May 13, 2019 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Becoming plastic free

Apley Farm Shop is a member of The Farm Retail Association (FRA) & their latest press release is below* about how farm shops are helping their customers become plastic free.

I think the real answer is to massively REDUCE plastic consumption because going plastic free will increase food waste so we’d just be swapping one problem for another.  With that in mind, here are some measures Apley Farm Shop & on the Apley Estate [farming & property] has taken since opening in March 2011 (I’ll be updating this list as I think of more!):

Measures already implemented, in becoming plastic free 
In the Food Hall
We use greaseproof paper for wrapping our cheese
We use brown paper bags for fruit & veg
To carry shopping home, we offer cardboard boxes, paper carrier bags or recyclable plastic carrier bags

In the Creamery Cafe
We use biodegradeable paper take away cups
We use paper straws

In the Playbarn
We use biodegradeable paper plates

Our next steps 
Install dried goods dispensers
Encourage customers to bring & refill their own containers

Our concerns
Plastic can help reduce food waste, therefore reducing plastic in food packaging could increase food waste
As glass is heavier, the costs of transporting glass are higher than for transporting plastic, therefore using more fuel which may offset any environmental benefit of using glass over plastic

Other measures we take to protect our environment
On the whole site
We recycle 90% of our waste which is sorted at our local recycling site, with 4% is used for generating energy
Since opening, we installed a wood chip boiler to heat the whole site & our hot water
We have bike racks & support local walking groups
We plant a tree every year down our exit drive
We use LED bulbs wherever possible

In the Food Hall
We source our products as locally as possible thereby reducing food miles (from the Apley Estate, Shropshire & surrounding counties)

In the Playbarn
We installed solar panels on the playbarn roof

On the Skylark Nature Trail & our Apley Dog Park
We offer nature guides to inform customers on country issues as they walk round our free Skylark Nature Trail

In our Apley Estate farming operations

  • We’ll soon be part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme
  • We run a Woodland Management Scheme to improve habitats for wildlife
  • We recycle all plastic (ie. all silage wrap etc) – it gets put into bags & then collected when full. Our local recycling company sorts it at their depot. There are some plastics we can’t recycle, eg the net wrap which goes under the outer plastic & currently there is no alternative
  • We buy 180 tonnes of liquid fertiliser in bulk, which saves bags (which are used for hard fertiliser). Storage & delivery
  • Wherever possible, they buy to reduce packaging
  • We use our own seed corn
  • 80% of the [plastic] seed corn bags get reused then recycled

Other ways we make our farming operations ‘greener’

  • We practice ‘Precision’ farming which means lower quantities of pesticides & fertilisers are required – they’re applied only where necessary
  • We use digestate from a local anaerobic digester, which reduces. They use food waste to generate electricity. Whatever is left over (ie their by products) after they’ve generated their electricity is then used by us as fertiliser.
  • We fertilise our arable & grasslands fields with manure from our own cattle herd
  • Our parkland is 100% grassland which is never ploughed. It acts as a huge carbon sink.
  • We practice crop rotation to avoid the build up of pests & diseases, thereby reducing the amount of chemicals we need to apply to our fields
  • We invest in land drainage to improve the soil quality & therefore productivity
  • ‘Min till’ (minimum tillage) saves fuel & reduces machine usage. It’s cheaper & keeps our soils healthier & therefore more productive
  • We use ‘cover crops’ (mixtures of different species – legumes, cereals) in the winter to ensure the maximum possible acreage of ground is covered in the winter months.  As roots decay, they feed the soil fungus & soil microcrobes. These crops also capture nutrients preventing them from being washed away with rainwater. Some deeper rooting species (eg radish) help prevent soil compaction by opening up root courses which then help the next crop to root more easily.
  • Whenever the soil is disturbed, the carbon is oxidized  & released back into the atmosphere

*Press Release: Your local farm shop can help you become plastic free

The Farm Retail Association (FRA) is encouraging the public to shop at Farm Shops and Farmers’ Markets to help them reduce their waste.
Rob Copley, owner of Farmer Copleys in Pontefract and Chair of the FRA said: “A huge number of these farm-to-fork businesses have traditionally had less plastic produce packaging than supermarkets, and many have made an increased effort over the last 12 months. Customers can just choose the produce they want and use paper bags rather than plastic. By reusing produce boxes and egg boxes as well as moving to paper bags, one of our members Minskip Farm Shop in North Yorkshire estimate they have reduced their own waste by 45% since 2017.”

Customers are encouraged to bring their own containers to many farm shops, and some have dried goods dispensers for customers to use. FRA member Milly Stokes at Farndon Fields Farm Shop in
Leicestershire says, “We reuse all our produce boxes for customers to carry their shopping home. We also buy bulk dried goods and display them loose in glass jars, our customers can re-fill their own containers. All our deli counter items are wrapped in brown or greaseproof paper. We have had an overwhelming positive response from customers for our recent changes to 100% eliminating single use plastic.”

Rob Copley agrees: “It is up to retailers to lead the way in reducing waste in store, which makes it easier for customers to reduce their own waste at home. As farmers and retailers, we are all about getting our produce from the field to our customers as quickly as possible and reducing waste along the way is part of our mission.”

For more information visit

For the latest on climate change 

Click HERE to watch (on BBC iplayer) the very alarming BBC programme on Climate Change, the facts, presented by David Attenborough on 19 April 2019. It’s 58 mins & available until 15 May.

Read the article praising the programme HERE.