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St. Mary Redcliffe

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I understand that the organ at St. Mary Redcliffe Bristol is going under another rebuild at the cost of £800.000. I have to say I'm very glad of this news its one of my most favorite organ's to play and listen too.

;)

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I understand that the organ at St. Mary Redcliffe Bristol is going under another rebuild at the cost of £800.000. I have to say I'm very glad of this news its one of my most favorite organ's to play and listen too.

;)

 

But what means "Rebuilding" ?

Why not a simple restoration ? After all, this one *may*

be seen as a treasure (with all due apologies...) not

to be "improved" upon.

 

Pierre

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Sorry Pierre I did mean a restoration i don't want any thing added all taken away for this organ

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Quite so, Pierre. It's a thick, old sludge-bucket that does music no service at all (though it makes some beautifully "ecclesiastical" noises). Nevertheless it is unquestionably an iconic organ and NOT ONE PIPE should be changed - except arguably to return it an earlier state.

 

(No doubt I shall now be gunned down for slaughtering a sacred cow. Hmm. Come to think of it, that's actually not a bad metaphore! ;) )

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Does anyone know the timescale? I'm giving a recital there in May half term. Or supposed to be.... Liszt BACH, Franck Prelude Fugue and Variation and Elgar Sonata.

 

Charles

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Sorry Pierre I did mean a restoration i don't want any thing added all taken away for this organ

 

You may indeed wish this - but £800,000 is a large sum simply for a restoration, even if Harrison & Harrison are to carry-out the work.

 

I cannot find any announcement or information regarding the proposed work from either the church website or Harrisons' own pages. I would be interested to learn further details of the planned work, if possible. Could you inform me from where you obtained your information, please?

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You may indeed wish this - but £800,000 is a large sum simply for a restoration, even if Harrison & Harrison are to carry-out the work.

 

I cannot find any announcement or information regarding the proposed work from either the church website or Harrisons' own pages. I would be interested to learn further details of the planned work, if possible. Could you inform me from where you obtained your information, please?

 

http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/displayNode...e=sidebarsearch

 

Sorry people I may of got the year wrong ;)

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I understand that the organ at St. Mary Redcliffe Bristol is going under another rebuild at the cost of £800.000. I have to say I'm very glad of this news its one of my most favorite organ's to play and listen too.

;)

 

I agree with pcnd5584, £800,000 does sound a lot for a restoration. The Redcliffe organ ought not require more effort to restore than the Armley Schulze, which, according to one of the fund raising leaflets cost £328,000. I know Redcliffe is a few ranks bigger, but there's just too much difference between the two figures. Did anyone hear about the work being tendered to other builders (assuming H&H are to do the work)? Quite often newspaper articles dealing with organ related work get their figures mixed up. The sum might well include some roof repairs perhaps. At Armley at least £1,000,000 was spent on a complete restoration of the whole gigantic edifice.

I await further details with interest, as will the Queen apparently; the article managed to mention HRH and the Royal Family twice. Perhaps this was to excite some of those American sponsors it mentioned.

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Does anyone know the timescale? I'm giving a recital there in May half term. Or supposed to be.... Liszt BACH, Franck Prelude Fugue and Variation and Elgar Sonata.

 

Charles

I accompanied the RSCM Cathedral Singers in St. Mary Redcliffe last Saturday and have played it a number of other times recently including a lunchtime recital earlier in the year. There is a display board in the church giving details of the proposed work and there are also leaflets available.

 

The organ has been increasingly unreliable in recent years and any visiting recitalist would be well advised to have some alternative pieces to hand in case of need. My programme was built around the Whitlock Fanfare which, in the event, I had to give up on on the day as the Tuba had too many notes missing. (The tuba still has a number of notes missing, also the solo double clarinet is largely unusable. The pedal trombone 16 was not working on Saturday but there are still ophecleides @16' and 32' available.)

 

Personally I'd like to see the console refurbished or replaced and would find the organ a lot more comfortable and easy to play if the existing peculiar arrangement of expression pedals and toe pistons could be brought closer to the normal standard. I would prefer to see a single swell pedal controlling both sets of shutters, although I dare say others will have good reasons why this is not a good idea.

 

Andrew Kirk (DOM at SMR) is a very friendly and approachable person, I'm sure he would be happy to supply more information to anyone that emailed him their queries.

 

Whilst this instrument can not really be considered eclectic many of its sounds are just lovely. I find that it grows on me the more I play it, you do really need to know your way around it to cope with its eccentricities.

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The Canynges Gazette 2005, the newsletter of a society set up to raise funds to support St Mary's Redcliffe (amongst other things perhaps), includes a short piece about the proposed complete restoration of the organ and quotes a figure of £750,000, which by now would have reached the figure quoted previously. It says that the reasons for this work were explained in detail in the previous year's Gazette. However, this copy was not found by Google. Perhaps some of the Bristol members could track down a copy, alternatively, as mentioned above, more up to date information should be available from the D of M: his contact details are given on the Church web site.

 

Details of the restoration apart, it's the cost that concerns me. It's not just high, it's twice what it should cost, even from a world famous organ builder. You could build a new organ of the same size for £800,000!

I may be touching on a delicate matter here, but is there a national body that check up on what Organ Builder's charge? Please don't tell me that the IBO board members sit round a table and come up with 'this year's figures' and have gentlemen's agreements as to who gets which job.

 

I spend a lot of time supporting Organ Builders (mainly those based in the UK) and convincing churches to restore their organ or buy a new pipe organ when this is the best solution. Without exception the single most controversial subject I have to deal with is the cost. With such apparently large discrepancies between costs from the same OB for two comparable jobs (Armley), you can see why there is so much distrust or simply confusion amongst church committees.

 

This subject may not be something that this forum feels comfortable discussing, but if anyone has any useful input as to how the IBO works or how things could be a little more transparent, please send me an email.

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Interesting questions, David,

 

The same problems obtain in Belgium and France.

I often raise two slightly disturbing questions:

 

1)- Is the OB "market" really an open one ? 99% of the

jobs in Belgium go to two (belgian) Organ-builders;

France isn't different. Europe ? Which Europe ? Save for

suppressing jobs by tents of thousands and cutting wages,

there is no "globalization". Our host here still never got

any work on the continent. Is that normal ?

 

2)- What is a restoration ?

A new console, new action, new bellows, up-to-date combinator,

revoicing, adding of screaming would-be-baroque Mixtures, an

electronic 32' stop......Or simply clean all, repair (only) what is

out of order, then tuning and lefting all religiously alone ?

 

As a country which *was* rich, but now on the verge of general bankrupcy

while the only "interesting" question for the "big chiefs" is the tribal struggle

between flemish and walloons, we had to "think out of the box" in Belgium,

and have some important organs simply cleaned and repaired where it

was needed.

With the conviction such works were good for five years, as anyone will imagine.

BUT.....This was already 20 years ago, and the organs still do well !

 

Food four tought ?

 

Pierre

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Guest Cynic
The Canynges Gazette 2005, the newsletter of a society set up to raise funds to support St Mary's Redcliffe (amongst other things perhaps), includes a short piece about the proposed complete restoration of the organ and quotes a figure of £750,000, which by now would have reached the figure quoted previously. It says that the reasons for this work were explained in detail in the previous year's Gazette. However, this copy was not found by Google. Perhaps some of the Bristol members could track down a copy, alternatively, as mentioned above, more up to date information should be available from the D of M: his contact details are given on the Church web site.

 

Details of the restoration apart, it's the cost that concerns me. It's not just high, it's twice what it should cost, even from a world famous organ builder. You could build a new organ of the same size for £800,000!

I may be touching on a delicate matter here, but is there a national body that check up on what Organ Builder's charge? Please don't tell me that the IBO board members sit round a table and come up with 'this year's figures' and have gentlemen's agreements as to who gets which job.

 

I spend a lot of time supporting Organ Builders (mainly those based in the UK) and convincing churches to restore their organ or buy a new pipe organ when this is the best solution. Without exception the single most controversial subject I have to deal with is the cost. With such apparently large discrepancies between costs from the same OB for two comparable jobs (Armley), you can see why there is so much distrust or simply confusion amongst church committees.

 

This subject may not be something that this forum feels comfortable discussing, but if anyone has any useful input as to how the IBO works or how things could be a little more transparent, please send me an email.

 

I too think that this figure is vastly larger than one would expect. I will assume for the moment that H&H are being asked to do it, this would seem a fairly obvious move, though there are others who would do the job as well. This size of organ demands a major firm, and one that has experience of large H&H jobs. [i know this organ reasonably well and recorded a CD on it about three years ago. This is queued up and waiting to be released! ]

 

IMHO What needs doing?

Well, without any question, it is due a thorough overhaul and re-leathering on a major scale. But otherwise? Well, you could pull it all about and re-write the spec but this would be vandalism. Arthur Harrison is on record as saying that he considered Redcliffe to be his most perfect work. I would upgrade the console, if one wanted to spend as much money as possible one could replace it with a new console, though I can't see why an upgrade wouldn't be ideal - after all this is what they have at Westminster Abbey - a period H&H console that has been given full mechanical modernisation without much change of appearance. Tonally, unless one wanted to play exclusively French Classical repertoire, what's already there plays everything else reasonably well! Of course, it plays some things to perfection.

 

Its less appealing, more frustrating characteristics are all related to the site. That Swell could kill in the right hands. I have often wondered whether one could line up (carefully selected) victims in the North Choir aisle just outside the box and give their cardiac systems an overload. Where else could this division go? Would this still be the amazing instrument it is if anything was moved? BTW, the swell pedals are not perfect, but these two Swell controls definitely have their uses. I wouldn't hitch both sets of shutters together. At most, you might electrify them and have a 'player's option' to switch them together.

 

Tinkering with Mixtures happened in Garth Benson's time, but this work was (virtually all) undone again, very sensibly. I think attempts to modernise the spec would be extremely unwise. I don't see Andrew Kirk doing this. So how to spend all that money? I suppose H&H's men could stay in a five-star hotel in Bristol while they do all that re-leathering.....

 

Mind you, is this figure any more ludicrous than the mooted £4,000,000 being raised to solve the organ problems at Canterbury? Sometimes I think they just think of a number and then double it!

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In a way, I can't mind spending this amount of money on an 'original' instrument like this, keep it.

 

Spending 1.2 million euro's on a 34stop would-be copy of a Silbermann, and then claiming it to be a 'Bach-organ', while fully disregarding whatever other/more-important organs surrounded JSB, seems more insane to me.

 

Surely, grass and green and other sides etc. etc.

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"Spending 1.2 million euro's on a 34stop would-be copy of a Silbermann, and then claiming it to be a 'Bach-organ', while fully disregarding whatever other/more-important organs surrounded JSB, seems more insane to me."

(Quote)

 

20 years too early here ! ;)

 

Pierre

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I too think that this figure is vastly larger than one would expect. I will assume for the moment that H&H are being asked to do it, this would seem a fairly obvious move, though there are others who would do the job as well. This size of organ demands a major firm, and one that has experience of large H&H jobs. [i know this organ reasonably well and recorded a CD on it about three years ago. This is queued up and waiting to be released! ]

 

IMHO What needs doing?

Well, without any question, it is due a thorough overhaul and re-leathering on a major scale. But otherwise? Well, you could pull it all about and re-write the spec but this would be vandalism. Arthur Harrison is on record as saying that he considered Redcliffe to be his most perfect work. I would upgrade the console, if one wanted to spend as much money as possible one could replace it with a new console, though I can't see why an upgrade wouldn't be ideal - after all this is what they have at Westminster Abbey - a period H&H console that has been given full mechanical modernisation without much change of appearance. Tonally, unless one wanted to play exclusively French Classical repertoire, what's already there plays everything else reasonably well! Of course, it plays some things to perfection.

 

Its less appealing, more frustrating characteristics are all related to the site. That Swell could kill in the right hands. I have often wondered whether one could line up (carefully selected) victims in the North Choir aisle just outside the box and give their cardiac systems an overload. Where else could this division go? Would this still be the amazing instrument it is if anything was moved? BTW, the swell pedals are not perfect, but these two Swell controls definitely have their uses. I wouldn't hitch both sets of shutters together. At most, you might electrify them and have a 'player's option' to switch them together.

 

Tinkering with Mixtures happened in Garth Benson's time, but this work was (virtually all) undone again, very sensibly. I think attempts to modernise the spec would be extremely unwise. I don't see Andrew Kirk doing this. So how to spend all that money? I suppose H&H's men could stay in a five-star hotel in Bristol while they do all that re-leathering.....

 

Mind you, is this figure any more ludicrous than the mooted £4,000,000 being raised to solve the organ problems at Canterbury? Sometimes I think they just think of a number and then double it!

 

We are spending a similar sum 'restoring' our somewhat smaller H&H organ by the original builder, whose quote was very competitive indeed.

 

But besides the obvious work of action and pipework restoration and some additional material by H&H the total sum includes: the complete dismantling of the whole structure of the organ in order to gain access to re-leather all the reservoirs which are in the base of the instrument (thus avoiding having to do another complete dismantling within the next 25 years), electrical re-wiring and restoration work to floor of the organ loft and site, asbestos removal, work on the restoration and repair of the cases, replacement of all the slider soundboards which have been seriously affected by periods of excessively low humidity and, finally, a very significant amount will go on some serious scaffolding in order to dismantle and reinstall the instrument safely. So except for the dismantling, releathering and new soundboards, the other items are not work done by the organ builder

 

H&H's 'men' (which includes at least one woman) all intend to stay in B&B accommodation locally or in a flat in North London.

 

Without knowing all the facts of a particular contract perhaps it's not quite fair to make assumptions about the financial practices of the host and other organ builders who are members of the IBO based on a newspaper article.

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We are spending a similar sum 'restoring' our somewhat smaller H&H organ by the original builder, whose quote was very competitive indeed.

 

But besides the obvious work of action and pipework restoration and some additional material by H&H the total sum includes: the complete dismantling of the whole structure of the organ in order to gain access to re-leather all the reservoirs which are in the base of the instrument (thus avoiding having to do another complete dismantling within the next 25 years), electrical re-wiring and restoration work to floor of the organ loft and site, asbestos removal, work on the restoration and repair of the cases, replacement of all the slider soundboards which have been seriously affected by periods of excessively low humidity and, finally, a very significant amount will go on some serious scaffolding in order to dismantle and reinstall the instrument safely. So except for the dismantling, releathering and new soundboards, the other items are not work done by the organ builder

 

H&H's 'men' (which includes at least one woman) all intend to stay in B&B accommodation locally or in a flat in North London.

 

Without knowing all the facts of a particular contract perhaps it's not quite fair to make assumptions about the financial practices of the host and other organ builders who are members of the IBO based on a newspaper article.

 

Thank you for the information Andrew, if there is also building work and asbestos (to stop the Tromba setting on fire?) removal at Redcliffe, that would certainly account for a good deal of the figure. I posed the question about how the IBO might work, I did not assume.

 

I have a great deal of respect for the high standards and hard work of all the members of the IBO, particularly Manders and Harrison & Harrison, so I apologise if they took offence.

 

My feedback, however, might suggest that a little more clarity is required and that when churches give out details of costs to a newspaper or include them in a journal published on the web, the figure quoted for the Organ restoration should be just that.

 

My comments about the lack of a tendering process still stand, but I take your point about H & H putting in a very competitive quote. And for the record, when I had the opportunity to inspect the two final bids for the restoration of the Armley organ, H & H's was the better of the two. (My input was not required, but one of the members of the committee involved was interested to hear my views from a mechanical engineering and materials science angle. The five generations of organ building in my family was not considered a hindrance either). Harrison's knowledge of the history of the organ, their respect for the work of Binns and suggestions for repositioning the divisions was particularly good. The well known German firm's proposals were, in parts, quite odd.

The work at Armley was pretty extensive though, a new frame was erected and scaffolding (Yorkshire scaffolding is very serious) was required to restore the vast casework. So I still think the two jobs bare some costing comparison, however I don't think the Schulze/Binns soundboards were replaced.

 

As for your soundboards needing replacement because of low humidity, was this as a result of the type or amount of heating? Many historic organs I find have usually only started to fall apart in the relatively recent past when an efficient (hot air blowing) heating system was installed. With under floor heating the air temp. doesn't need to be much above 14°C for people to feel warm and at that temp. the relative humidity of the air in the building can be kept above 40% or at least in equilibrium with that outside, so humidity is not forced out of the building.

Please take up this fact and inform as many as possible who have a valuable instrument in their buidling, if you aren't already doing so!

 

Two more IBO questions: Is the position of president just for one year and is next year's elected by the board or by the whole membership?

 

I imagine members of the forum would like to know as much as possible about the restoration details of the Redcliffe organ.

We may have to wait until all the funds are there before H & H put anything on their web site though.

 

Again, sorry if I ruffled a few feathers, but you'll all feel better in the end. ;)

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All this seems rather other-worldly from a belgian point of view...

Should we remove the asbestos from all 1960 built or re-built

organs then we can scrap them all, since there is no money for that.

Actually, so long as there is no removing, there is no obligation

to remove the asbestos.

A good example are swellboxes, many of which were built with

sandwiched asbestos between about 1960-1975; so long as the

thing stay in place, no problem.

Should we only modify such a Swellbox, then EC rules dictates

the asbestos to be removed.

(This will help protect interesting 1960-70 organs at least!)

I never met any windchest to be replaced after a mere 30 or 40

years, even with the worst heating system (hot air pulsed just under

the organ-case...), be it slider-chest, Universal, Kegellade or Taschenlade.

 

Pierre

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Hi - I am joint assistant at SMR along with my husband, Graham. The DoM, Andrew Kirk has asked me to post the following about the organ - he is still waiting to be registered on this forum!

 

Claire Alsop

 

From Andrew Kirk Director of Music at St Mary

Redcliffe Church Bristol:

 

I am pleased to see that the plans to restore the

organ are being aired and that many of the

comments are positive. The organ is still in a

good condition considering its age, a testament

to H&H craftsmansip and regular maintenance.

 

The Appeal cost is £800,000

 

It will be a restoration, hopefully completed in

time for the centenary in 2012 - there are no

changes to the pipework. No decisions have yet

been made about adding more memory.

 

Work is expected to take up to 18 months. H&H

will carry out the work. There were three tenders

for the work from UK firms and I can confirm H&H

quote was competitive. A contract will be signed

shortly.

 

There will soon be a link from the church website

to the appeal brochure.

 

There will be brand new blowers which could

involve some possible work on the fabric for

which the budget allows. There has been some

asbestos removal.

 

Add to that accommodation, scaffold, other

associated work, admin of appeal, consultancy,

displays, underwriting launch of organ with

celebrity recitals, contingencies and VAT

(which we hope to reclaim), I hope it is easy to

see how an appeal figure of £800,000 is reached.

 

We welcome any donations for the restoration of

this magnificent instrument.

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