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Newcastle City Hall


Guest Patrick Coleman
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Guest Patrick Coleman

pcnd mentions this instrument in another thread. I wondered if anyone has any news on its survival/fate?

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pcnd mentions this instrument in another thread. I wondered if anyone has any news on its survival/fate?

 

I have news about it, having recently joined the committee of the Newcastle and District Society of Organists. They are doing a huge amount to get it restored. For those that do not know it is an absolute Rolls-Royce of a 1928/9 Harrison and Harrison (http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N04108) with 66 stops and 4 manuals. Several people have remarked that it is the utmlst in opulance, built at exactly the same time as the Tyne Bridge in the inter war years when the City was still trying express a sense of civic pride and wealth.

 

I have only played it once: 3 years ago and it was in a terrible condition- it sounded marvellous and has clearly been exceptionally well made, however it is full of dirt to a shocking extent, largely I suspect because it was in a leading Civic Venue in the region where all the major acts nationally performed and smoking in the concert hall was still acceptable. A recent report by Paul Hale confirms it as a stunning instrument but gives picture of frightening levels of filthines: upto an inch of dirt on the hoods of the Tubas for example.

 

Having said all this, the fact that the instrument went out of fashion very may well have been its saving grace. The recital series at the city hall was transferred in the sixties to St Thomas the Martyr with a more fashonable Harrison of the Coventry Cathedral Mould (http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N04095) and the City Hall Organ was forgotten about. Until the 21st Century. Some of my colleagues in the NDSO have worked tirelessly to bring the instrument to the City Council's attention. At first many City councillors were unaware that the hall had an organ! A fact that I find extraordinary given that it occupies the entirity of the back wall of the hall in a vast case covered in Gold leaf and with every seat in the auditorium facing it. But there we go. Now they are just beginning in the city council to realsie what they have got and that restroing it may well be the key to breathing new life back into the City Hall itself which has been a somewhat unknown quantity since the SAGE concert hall opened on the otherside of the river.

 

I really know very little except

1) it is a superb instrument that is likely to be one of the finest concert hall organs in the country when restored

2) the council are beginning to take an instrument in it

3) Paul Hale's report explains that the instrument is actually in a better condition than may have been feared with the state of the winding and the pipework being remarable given the hall's age, lack of dehumidification and the lack of any attention (not even a regular tuning) for a good number of years.

 

I will try and get my freinds and coleagues on the NDSO who have been involved in the project since Day 1 to post more information, but until they do so, please keep your eyes and ears open for any publicity and SUPPORT THIS PROJECT WHOLEHEARTEDLY!

 

Charles

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An untouched H&H of this period and size has to be worth restoring as is. It has to be something special, irrespective of what one thinks of this style of organ.

 

Two Open Woods - I know one of our number who will go weak at the knees! I see the second one is borrowed from the Great - but what from, I wonder?

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An untouched H&H of this period and size has to be worth restoring as is. It has to be something special, irrespective of what one thinks of this style of organ.

 

Two Open Woods - I know one of our number who will go weak at the knees! I see the second one is borrowed from the Great - but what from, I wonder?

 

Unbelievably: the 32' Double!

 

Charles

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An untouched H&H of this period and size has to be worth restoring as is. It has to be something special, irrespective of what one thinks of this style of organ.

 

Two Open Woods - I know one of our number who will go weak at the knees! I see the second one is borrowed from the Great - but what from, I wonder?

 

Vox - fear not! This is incorrect. The second Open Wood is extended from the Double Open Wood - which is as it should be, with a smaller scale than that utilised for the larger Open Wood.

 

However, I am surprised to see that the wind pressure for the G.O. reeds, is as given in the specification which I linked to my post. At the time, H&H normally used 300mm for their trombe ranks, with the occasional exception (usually in a smaller building) voiced on 250mm and with King's, Cambridge on 450mm - although in the case of these latter stops, they are enclosed in the Solo box.

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