History


For three generations, the Kelders family has been actively engaged entertaining people, but it’s Willem Kelders who has now reached the best of the best in entertainment. “My great-grandfather already was a self-supporting businessman. He actually made cigars, but when in lack of customers, these would be traded for goods, which would then be sold.” This made more money available to, among others, buy fairground organs, which would be rented out, which spawned a trade in renting out fairground organs. One of those early fairground organs, owned by great-grandfather Wim Kelders still exists in the “Nationaal Museum van Speelklok tot Pierement” in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Willem Kelders’s father, Jan Kelders, was born in Boxmeer in 1928 and came from a family of no less than nine children. He followed in his father’s footsteps, and traded whatever became available. Even though his family forced him to learn a craft, butcher, he saw more for music. Jan Kelders became a professional musician, using percussion as one of his main instruments, among bass and guitar. Jan Kelders played in a band, and often went to fairgrounds to play there. On the fairground, he saw some old fairground organs, and as Willem Kelders himself admits: “An old love doesn’t fade away!”

Jan Kelders was, until the birth of his son Willem Kelders, occupied with a life as a musician, but soon it showed that there wasn’t enough interest in the subject anymore. He then committed to exploiting fish ‘n chips stands. This didn’t take long. The company fell apart in 1964, but only a year later, it arose again, and it started to purchase mainly antiques. This signaled the start of the purchase of multiple fairground organs.

In 1978, Willem Kelders took over the company from his father in Cuijk. Every year, many fairground organs passed through his hands, by purchasing and selling them. Several people from the fairground organ world were helped by the company in getting materials, advice, or parts. The company also designed and built trailers, a skill that would come in handy later.

By then Willem Kelders had managed to broaden his borders. For the exploitation of several attractions, he found a good market in England.

Ever since 1975, Willem has traveled to England on a regular basis, bringing with him attractions and fairground organs. Highlights of the visits to England certainly include the big country festivals (rallies) where his attractions are a huge success.

Especially the fairground organs were a big success in England, but apart from those, there were also other attractions, like bouncy castles, stands, etc.

In 1989, Willem Kelders marries Monique, and three years later, on the request of Willem’s parents in law, they move to Breugel. The space they had in Cuijk was already too small, and Willem could also purchase a company which traded in porcelain with the space. As the company’s primary focus was export, this combined perfectly with renting out fairground organs.

On request of several customers, an attraction rental company was added. This signaled the start of the RBA-Verhuur company.

A tremendous blow to the entire family was a fire, which, on the 14th of December, 1996, turned the entire company to ashes, and nothing was left intact. No less than 10 fairground organs, the complete stock of porcelain, and all the attractions which were present at the time, were all completely destroyed. It’s the biggest loss any businessman can imagine, but Willem didn’t rest on his laurels. Only a few days later, the reconstruction was underway.

The company was revitalized, and apart from the fairground organs, the renting out of jukeboxes and party materials was being realized. They took care of everything by themselves, and with minimal outside help, the company was completely rebuilt.

The year is now 1997, and the Kelders family has been expanding. Two sons, Rik and Bas, complete the Kelders family. In the same year, the Kelders family reappears on the annual Great Dorset Steam Fair, and here, that very year, the decision is made to introduce the World’s biggest transportable concert organ to The Netherlands. Of course, Willem had known how it would look ever since 1989. The 115 key Verbeeck Centenary Organ, built in 1984, is the big role model for the “dream organ” of the Kelders family. This calls for the assignment to build a fairground organ of this massive size, at a Dutch contractor.

Eventually this assignment was cancelled in the circumstances, and the Kelders family teamed up with organ constructor Johnny Verbeeck, who had more than earned his spurs in the business!

A close partnership between the Verbeeck Company and the RBA-Verhuur company, combine into the realization of the World’s biggest transportable concert organ. While Willem and his company were making sure that there would be a trailer, large enough to accommodate this massive concert organ, complete with hydraulics, which would make sure that it would look its best, Johnny Verbeeck was building a concert organ of unparalleled specifications!

Even while organ construction was still blossoming, an instrument with such proportions as the 118 key Verbeeck concert organ hadn’t been built before!

With this organ, Willem and his family want to convince everyone that a concert organ isn’t just a concert organ. Of course, the Victory can hardly be compared to an average sized concert organ. With the Victory, Willem wants to prove to everyone, that everything musical is possible on a concert organ. How about pieces like, The Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, or Beat it by Micheal Jackson, or complete concerts by Mozart, Von Supppe or even Rossini. The Victory has such a massive disposition that really every kind of music fits this concert organ.

To give an indication of the disposition of this concert organ: 1133 pipes, including ones from real copper, 23 lines of pipes with differrent sounds, kettle drum, vibraphone, xylophone, bass drum, cymbal, military drums, castanets, of which the last four are double percussion, and finally, 18 tubular bells.

Apart from that the concert organ has a facade of over 9 meters wide, and a height of 3 meters.

Whilst listening to the excellent sounds of the Victory from a decent distance, Willem Kelders says: “The cooperation with the Johnny Verbeeck company was one of the best deals I have done in my entire career. It was one of the biggest amounts of money I ever spent on anything, but everything was decided in less than 15 minutes!”

By now, the concert organ has been introduced festively in Arnhem in May 2003. Everyone agreed that it stole the show, and everyone stood in awe as they gaped over the possibilities of it. Apart from that, in 2005 it went on tour through France, Germany and of course England. Concert organ enthusiasts often came from miles around, just to listen to the Victory.

For the Kelders family, the Victory is the crown on top of their work, and a true victory of all the hardships both the company, and the family, had to face. And the party isn’t over yet, as another street organ has already been ordered from Johnny Verbeeck, to complement the Victory. Smaller, but still a quality product to be proud of.

Willem and his family are proud. Not just for the Victory, but all the things that make their company one of the best out there. The future can only get better, and the Victory plays a big part in it. RBA-Verhuur is not just a company that entertains people, but a company which has persistence, and that’s just what life is all about.



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