Piano Companies at Woodchester

Woodchester Mill. Photo P Stevens July 2014
New Woodchester Mill. Photo P Stevens July 2014

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Stroud Piano Company history

Bentley Piano Company history

Newspaper cuttings


Link to a history of the piano works:



More about Woodchester on this website

A potted history of the Piano Works at Woodchester

A research note by Pauline Stevens, added Nov 2017   copyright logo

By the early 1900s pianos were very popular. Upright pianos had become more attainable and they were found in the homes of many, not just the rich. It was the best time for piano manufacturers.

Douglas Grover trained in his father and grandfather’s piano factory in London, founded in 1830.

1906 – Douglas Grover and George Gladman started their own firm in London.

1911 – They moved to Stroud and rented Woodchester Mills as Stroud Pianos. The five story building had been built in 1804 for the woollen industry, but by 1901 was a saw mill.

1919 – Became a Limited Liability Company. Mr George Gladman retired and his brother Arthur Gladman became a Director.

1920 – Production increased.

1930 – Douglas and his son Richard introduced a middle market piano with the name Bentley, which was later adopted as the name of the company. They became one of the largest piano producers in the country.

1931 – 300 obsolete grand pianos were burned in a huge bonfire in  Woodchester – they could not be burned in London.

1938 – Main factory destroyed by fire. Addition of Bentley Works (east of Southfield Mill).

WW2 – Aircraft components were made instead of pianos. Following WW2 all pianos made had to be exported, and the business grew. Arthur

Gladman retired. Major Richard Grover became Managing Director.

1956 – It was one of the largest producers of pianos in UK. 70% of pianos were exported. They celebrated 50 years in business by taking all work people, wives and sweethearts for a trip on the Thames, with lunch at Abingdon, then by coach to London for a visit to the theatre and dinner.

1962 – Richard’s son David joined the company – the 5th generation of piano manufacturers.

1969 – Richard Grover awarded MBE for services to exports.

1970s – Growth in foreign manufacturers and electronic keyboards.

1977 – Another fire.

1979 – New building added.

1989 – Britain’s 2nd largest piano manufacturer. 40% of production space lost in another factory fire.

1991 – 85th anniversary. New building opened. Pianos exported to over 30 countries each year.

1993 – Bentley Piano Co sold and moved – due to recession and foreign competition.

1994 – Woodchester Pianos formed.

1997 – Award for best upright piano.

2001 – British Piano Co took over and Bentley Pianos were made here again.

2003 – Closed – due to fall in demand and foreign competition.

1906 -1927

We have been given this booklet and photos.                                                            Click pictures to enlarge



1927    The Bentley name was first used in 1930

This picture must be after 1932 as the Bentley name was not on the roof then – see https://britainfromabove.org.uk/image/epw037768

It is earlier than 1938 when the 5 storey building had a fire.

In 2017 Radio Gloucestershire asked if we knew anything about this piano bonfire


and a SLHS member found these articles in the Citizen 28th August 1931 :

and Taunton Courier 2nd September 1931


Found during 2014 search of Citizen archive.                 

Click on the pictures to enlarge.

 Stroud Piano Company

Stroud pianos 1



Stroud pianos 2

Stroud piano company history as pdf


Bentley Piano Company

Bentley 1 Bentley 2 Bentley 3

Bentley piano history as pdf


Newspaper cuttings from Citizen Archive


1989_11_24-1 copy


1989_11_24-2 copy

1989_11_24-3 copy


1989_11_25 copy


1989_12_1 copy


1989_12_05 copy


1990 a copy

1990 a

1990 b copy 1990 b

1990_06 copy 1990_06 1991_04_02 copy 1991_04_02 1991_05_04 copy 1991_05_04 1992_12_10 copy 1992_12_10 1992_12_23 copy 1992_12_23 1992_12_31 copy 1992_12_31 1993 a copy 1993 a 1993 b copy 1993 b 1993_01_06 copy 1993_01_06 1993_01_08 WDP copy 1993_01_08 WDP 1993_02_05 copy





1994_02_02 1994_02_02-1 copy 1994_03_09 copy1994_03_09

1994_07_15-1 copy  1994_07_15

1997_10_07 1997_10_07

2003_05_31 Western Daily Press

2003_05_31 Western Daily Press


2003_06_04 2003_06_04

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