It was certainly the most eye-catching lead I’d ever stumbled onto.
Messrs C. and F. Hamilton, Organ Builders, including letter regarding a ‘really fine’ organ, removed ‘from Dr. Goodsir Danube Street’.”
This 1893 sentence sent me off down a dozen rabbit holes until I located Dr. Goodsir’s really fine organ, hiding in plain sight, in one of Edinburgh’s oldest churches – which is also one of its most popular tourist attractions.
The organ belonged to the Goodsirs of Anstruther Easter. Henry Duncan Spens Goodsir (1819-c.1848), a naturalist and surgeon, had sailed with Sir John Franklin’s doomed 1845 expedition to find a North-West Passage.
Robert Anstruther Goodsir (1823-1895) travelled to the Arctic twice, hoping to find and rescue his brother. Both attempts were unsuccessful.
The plaque reads:
“This organ was presented to the Lodge Dramatic and Arts of Edinburgh No.757, in November 1893, by Robert Anstruther Goodsir MD, Artic (sic) explorer & traveller, who in March 1849 led a search party to the Artic regions in the ship ‘Advice’ in search of the Franklin Expedition”
There are a few problems with the wording on this plaque, but we’ll get to that later. So for now, let’s look at the history of the organ, and how it got to where it is today.