Étienne DELAHAYE: Charles Anneessens (1835 - 1903) – A tragic destiny
Charles Anneessens (1835 – 1903) was the eldest son of the Ninove organ-builder Pierre-Hubert Anneessens. He was trained by his father and established his workshop in Grammont. He was widowed while still young, remarried with Mélanie Meunier and fathered six children, of whom Paul (1870), Oscar (1873) and Jules (1876) also trained as organ- builders. As Charles was preparing an important instrument for the Brussels National Exhibition in 1880, his works were devastated by a fire. In 1891, Anneessens decided to relocate his activities in the north of France to Halluin, close to the Belgian border. The following year he opened a branch in Ménin, on the other side of the frontier. The arrival in France of the Maison Anneessens et Fils did not go unnoticed and was the subject of virulent criticism. Charles Anneessens perfected a system of tubular pneumatic action which was introduced for the first time in 1893 in an organ for Fontenay-aux-Roses. A patent for this invention was only taken out in 1898. The firm’s intense activity was not without set-backs, for instance in Lisieux (Saint-Jacques) or in Poitiers (Sainte-Radegonde). In June 1902, Anneessens received the order of an organ for Clemont-Ferrand (Saint-Joseph). The project was ambitious...an instrument of three manuals and pedal, with 73 stops, to be built within eight months. Early in 1903, the project ran into difficulties. On February 20th the 'Journal de Roubaix' announced the disappearance of the organ-builder. On April 6th the same paper announced the recovery of his body from the sea at Cannes, his death going back to February 2nd . The Clermont-Ferrand organ was completed by the organbuilder Léon Daem, of Appelterre.