Oxford Ghost Signs: Organ Brothers at 55 Randolph Street

Randolph Street

Streetview of this building in 2014 on GoogleMaps
(showing the street number 55 before it was obscured by the Scott Fraser sign)

In Kelly’s Directory for 1899 Organ & Co. were listed as builders’ merchants and Organ Brothers as builders, both in the Cowley Road.

By 1914 Organ Brothers, builders of 38 Cowley Road, had their works here in Randolph Street. The sign is likely to have said:


By 1927 thi building was occupied by cabinet makers, and it was eventually numbered 55 Randolph Street.

The Organ brothers

Ephraim Organ was born at North Nibley, Gloucestershire in 1850 and his younger brother David Organ in 1856. At the time of the 1861 census Ephraim (11) and David (4) were living at North Nibley with their parents Thomas & Ann Organ (described respectively as a sawyer and a grocer) and their three sisters. Ephraim is hard to find in 1871, while David (14) was working as a general servant in the household of the Vicar of North Nibley.

Ephraim Organ was already living in St Clement's, Oxford where he worked as a joiner when on 18 March 1874 at the age of 24 at St Clement's Church he married Emma Durran (17), the daughter of a groom. His younger brother evidently followed him to Oxford, as on 18 March 1878 at the same church David Organ (22), described as a carpenter, married Emma's sister Ellen Durran (23). Ephraim & Emma were to have nine surviving children and David & Ellen seven.

In October 1875 Ephraim was described as the foreman to Mr Horn, builder of St Clement’s

In the 1881 census both Ephraim and David were described as carpenters. Ephraim and his family were living at at 63 Princes Street and David nearby at 10 Union Street.

By 1883 Ephraim was described as a builder of Cowley Road.

In the 1891 census both Ephraim and David Organ were described as builders and employers. Ephraim was then living at 92 Cowley Road and David next door at No. 91. It appears that Cowley Road was then renumbered, as in 1911 Ephraim lived at 333 Cowley Road (Kenilworth) and David was next door at 331.

Ephraim Organ died at the age of 61 and was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery on 25 September 1915, and his brother
David Organ his brother died at the age of 70 and was buried in Botley Cemetery on 9 July 1927.

Continuation of the family firm

Kelly's Directory, 1930

The firm Ephraim Organ & Son continued after the death of both brothers, and Kelly's Directory for 1930, in addition to the display box shown right, listed a total of ten commercial businesses in Oxford that were run by descendants of the two Organ brothers from North Nibley.

The firm's accounts, apprenticeship indentures, stock, and wage books for c.1920–1930 are available at the Oxfordshire History Centre.

Two photographs dated 1957 showing the presmises of Ephraim Organ & Sons builders:

Ephraim Organ & Son Ltd is now a dormant company
(no. 00607086).

Stephanie Jenkins