History of Cookes

Our company began trading in Norwich in 1887. It's believed that our founder, Mr. Arthur William Cooke the first, designed and built the first 'Mini Pianos'. The advent of the electric radio set helped the company to evolve and diversify, but the piano was still the instrument everyone aspired to own. The outbreak of the second world war had a devastating effect on many companies, including Cookes. The many piano factories in London were turned over to the war effort, with their craftsmen building wooden aircraft frames rather than pianos. After the war, Cookes, now under the control of Mr A.W. Cooke the second and his son Arthur Jr, used their considerable skills to recondition older pianos as new pianos were very difficult to find. Arthur Jr was a determined entrepreneur and in an effort to revive the company's fortunes began selling televisions in the 1950s and actively reconditioning pre-war pianos. The expansion meant a new apprentice was required, and a young Bill Kilgour joined Cookes. Bill would later become managing director of the company.

The swinging 60s saw the introduction of a new instrument to the U.K, the Hammond organ. Arthur Jr had the foresight to see the huge potential of the instrument and became the Hammond organ dealer for all of Norfolk. The 70s saw a period of considerable growth, Hammond organs and pianos were selling very well and Cookes began selling Miller church organs. It was at this time that Steven Battle joined the company.

The mid 80s saw Arthur Cooke the third retire, leaving Bill and Steven determined to uphold the reputation which had been built and established over 100 years. Since then, the Cookes Keyboard School has been opened above the shop, teaching hundreds of children and adults to play piano, keyboard and organ, and introducing them to the joys of making music.

It's hard not to wonder what our founder Arthur Cooke would think of Cookes today, especially with the advent of electric and electronic instruments! We're sure, like us, he would be proud that the Cookes name remains synonymous with supplying quality musical instruments and service.