Film ID:
YFA 1462



Visitor Tabs


This is a film of the Waddington’s Piano Factory in Scarborough.  The original film which was deposited at the Archive consisted of multiple pieces of prints making up this film and running about 36 minutes.  The film catalogued is an edited version which does not consist of any duplicate scenes.  Additionally, due to the nature of the original material, the production process may not have occurred in this order; however, the film does document various aspects of the piano production process from beginning to end. 

The film opens with a machine sawing wood.
Title – Dimensioning the piano back by parallel saws known as ‘A double cross cut saw.’

There are men using the saws with a close up of the blade cutting.

Title – Thickness – A planing machine for reducing the wood to the required thickness.

A man using that machine, and wood chips splinter out of the top as the machine cuts the appropriate thickness.  The worker shows the piece of wood to the camera when complete.

Title – Edge planing.

Bits of wood go into the machine, and again wood chips can be seen coming out.

Title – Shaping the fall by a spindle machine.

Another man uses that machine.

Title – A band saw – (for sawing curves).

A man uses the band saw cutting curves into a small piece of wood.

Title – Sand papering Curves

A small machine is used to sand smooth the newly cut curves.

Title – The assembly of the back.

More workers are seen in the factory.

Title – Arranging belly bars.

A man places the bars on the back of the piano.

Title – Gluing and fixing belly bars. 

Two men use long, narrow pieces of wood to fix the belly bars while the glue sets.

Title – And the bars are chamfered –

A man used a chisel to file down the edges of the bars.

Title – Fixing bridges to the back.

A similar process is followed to that of fixing the belly bars.   

Title – We now come to the operation of marking off.

Title – Marking scale on bridges.

A man marks small holes along a bar for the piano scale.  The then drills holes in the areas marked.

Title – Boring the bridge for the pins.

Title – The pinning of the bridge.  The average number of pins used is 426.

After drilling, the man hammers in all the pins. The scale is then fit onto the frame.

Title – Boring back of piano before stringing.
A young boy uses a drill to bore the holes.

Title – Fitting strings.  The number of strings used being 213.

A man stretches the stings to opposing pins along the back.

Title – This young man is “chipping-up.”  This being a term used to describe the operation of first raising all the strings to their correct pitch.  All tuners receive their first ear-training in this department.

The boy plucks the strings and uses a small tool to tighten them to the appropriate pitch.

Title – An extraordinary machine known as a joining press.

Two men use this large, windmill-looking machine.

Title – Scrapping fall before sand-papering.

A man used a small, flat tool along the fall.

Title – Scrapping case parts before sand-papering.

There is a close-up of one worker performing this task.

Title – Sand-papering case parts by machinery.

Large machines are used for this process.  The operating belts on these machines are exposed.  A young boy sands the edges of small pieces of wood, and another worker uses a large bit of the machine to sand the bigger pieces of the casing.


Title – Fitting ends or sides.

One worker brushes glue along the edge and fits a side piece to it.  The edge is then clamped until the glue dries.

Title – Fitting key bottom.

A man fits in the key bottom and piano bottom using a hand-cranked drill to screw in the pieces.

Title – Fitting fall.

Title – Screwing lids.

A man uses a mall screwdriver for this process.

Title – Fitting lid.

The lid is fitted onto the top of the piano case.


Trick photography is used to show all the parts going into the case making up the finished product.

Title – Action fitting.

Lots of workers are visible taking part in this process.
Title – Boring, Balancing, and Loading of keys.

Younger boys are in charge of this process.  They make individual keys and assemble the keyboard using a drill and hammer to put the key parts together.

Title – Putting washers on Key Frame.

A young man puts small washers on the frame.

Title – Fitting action standards.

These are fit using measurement tools.

Title – Preparing hammers.

Title – Gluing hammers.

A young man does these tasks – hammers being connected to the keys to strike the strings.  There is a close-up of the hammers.

Title – General action.  Fitting and regulating piano action.

A man loads this piece onto the piano case.  The keys are then fitted in.

Title – Final fine regulating.

The keys are loaded and adjusted.

Title – Tuning and trying over.

A man plays the piano keys and tunes the strings accordingly.  He plays scales.

Title – Cleaning out by compressed air.  Under a pressure of 90 lbs. to the square inch.

A gun blowing compressed air is used to clean the strings and hammers.

Title – Filling the Grain.

Parts of the case are painted with stain.

Title – A filled-in case ready for polishing.

Title – An up-to-date method of spraying on the polish.

A spray gun is used to administer polish to the large sides of the case.  The case is placed on a turntable for easy access.

Title – Final polishing done by hand.

A row of workers all polish finished piano cases by hand.


A man, dressed in a suit, plays scales on the piano testing the instrument.

Title – Every not is tested for touch, repetition, and responsiveness.

More scales.

Title – Testing ton for sustaining power.

The man pulls out a pocket watch to test the time for which a note can be held.

Title – The Waddington Piano is finally passed out in the most perfect condition possible to achieve.

There is a close up of the testers hands playing the piano, and the film closes with a shot of the front of the factory building.