The business was founded near Preston in 1780 by James Davis and later transferred to London by James and his brother David. They ran the business until 1822.
Prior to this date a Samuel Renn was born in 1786 - the son of a coachman at Kedleston Hall near Derby when of the right age he was sent to London to be apprenticed to his uncle James Davis, who by this time was recognized as a highly successful Organ Builder.
In the course of time Davis retired and handed the business to Renn, who made the bold decision to set up his workshops near Manchester in 1822. These workshops were in the Stockport area.
In 1825 the workshops had moved again, this time into Manchester, to Dickinson Street near the site of the Present Central Library. Samuel Renn lived a few doors away from his works.
He had by this time taken a partner, John Boston, and from then on up until 1835 the business traded under the name Renn & Boston.
From 1835 the name Boston was dropped out of the title and it was then known as Samuel Renn and it remained so until 1845 when the business came into the hands of James Kirtland, - a nephew and former apprentice of Renns.
In 1846 James Kirtland took a partner named Frederick Jardine and they carried on building organs under the name of Kirtland & Jardine. This partnership continued until 1886 at which time Kirtland left the company and the name once again changed, this time becoming simply Frederick Jardine.
On October the first 1874 the business was purchased by James Alfred Thorald and Charles Woodfield Smith, - Smith having been with Jardines since 1861. (It was in this year that a man named Wadsworth left Jardines to set up his own firm in Manchester. His workshops were in Oxford Street, next to the Odeon Cinema and the firm traded until 1946 when they were absorbed into Jardine & Co).
Thorald and Smith continued to trade under that name up to 1889.
During this period Frederick Jardine continued to live in the areas, - he resided at “Thorncliffe”, on Stretford Road close to Trafford Bar in Old Trafford, in a house he purchased from James and Benjamin Joule. He later moved from this address to London.
The change of name from Thorald and Smith to Jardine and Company in 1899 came about with the death of J.A. Thorald. The Smith of Thorald and Smith’s two sons, one named Edwin Charles and the other Percy Colville joined the firm.
Edwin Charles Smith subsequently changed his name by deed poll to Jardine-Smith and he left Jardine & Co in 1929 to set up his own company which traded until approximately 1937 from a small workshop in Braemar Road, Fallofield.
In 1900 Jardine & Co moved into a purpose built factory in Elsinore Road, Old Trafford, where they continued building organs of all types and sizes for Cathedrals, Churches, Hospitals, Prisons, Private Houses, Cinemas, etc. (Jardine’s were the first British organ builders to design and build an organ specifically for the cinema to accompany silent films).
During this period the company at its height employed approximately 80 men, but in later years this steadied to an average of about 50.
During the 30’s and early 40’s the company was under the direction of J.K. Howarth, Managing Director and E.T. Ball, Works Foreman.
During the war the company continued its organ work, though with a much depleted staff as almost all the younger organbuilders went into the forces, - some sadly, never to return. Many of the older men went to work in Aircraft factories where their high level of skills was much sought after.