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Unusual Fates


Lausanne
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The screen name of a forum member prompted me recently to investigate the fate of the organ of Westgate Baptist Church in Bradford. This was the first church I attended as a young boy and so will be where I first heard the organ, unless a few months before I was born, my mother helped her father on his tuning round.

According to the NPOR, the organ was an early work of J.J. Binns and although still used, is in a poor condition. However, to add insult to injury, the church has been divided in half horizontally by the addition of a ceiling at the height of the gallery. The Organ is now out of sight above the ceiling while the console (which I think was just behind the central pulpit) remains down below. I imagine this was to save on heating costs, but it must look dreadful, and the sound may not be quite what it was either! Does the ceiling vibrate when a certain pedal note is played?

Perhaps The Reverend Newnham can shed more light on this.

 

When I joined the Anglican church in Lausanne the organ hardly played at all and previously the council had decided to build a toilet inside the organ chamber. They assumed that nobody would ever need get in to tune the organ as it didn't work anyway! After a year or so of re-leathering and other repairs I brought the organ (IIIP pneumatic) back to life, but had to saw a large chunk out of the top of the 'convenience' cabinet to allow access to the pipes.

I frequently take revenge on anyone who dares answer the call of nature during my postlude by drawing the pedal 16' reed, the largest pipes of which are a few feet away from the unsuspecting victim.

 

Any more stories out there of similar 'Cruelty to Organs'?

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The screen name of a forum member prompted me recently to investigate the fate of the organ of Westgate Baptist Church in Bradford. This was the first church I attended as a young boy and so will be where I first heard the organ, unless a few months before I was born, my mother helped her father on his tuning round.

According to the NPOR, the organ was an early work of J.J. Binns and although still used, is in a poor condition. However, to add insult to injury, the church has been divided in half horizontally by the addition of a ceiling at the height of the gallery. The Organ is now out of sight above the ceiling while the console (which I think was just behind the central pulpit) remains down below. I imagine this was to save on heating costs, but it must look dreadful, and the sound may not be quite what it was either! Does the ceiling vibrate when a certain pedal note is played?

Perhaps The Reverend Newnham can shed more light on this.

 

When I joined the Anglican church in Lausanne the organ hardly played at all and previously the council had decided to build a toilet inside the organ chamber. They assumed that nobody would ever need get in to tune the organ as it didn't work anyway! After a year or so of re-leathering and other repairs I brought the organ (IIIP pneumatic) back to life, but had to saw a large chunk out of the top of the 'convenience' cabinet to allow access to the pipes.

I frequently take revenge on anyone who dares answer the call of nature during my postlude by drawing the pedal 16' reed, the largest pipes of which are a few feet away from the unsuspecting victim.

 

Any more stories out there of similar 'Cruelty to Organs'?

 

There are many organs in NZ that have had really lovely facades, but then the church decides that they don't like it and cover it up.

This happened to a local organ which I play where the facade has been taken down and a huge screen covering the apse has been installed. This has a pretty negative effect on the sound of the organ, and now people complain that the organ is creating a draft, where it is actually cool air coming from behind the screen.

Thankfully, plans have been made to restore the interior of the church, so the screen will come down, and the organ and facade will be rebuilt as they were left by Brindley & Foster in 1927 except with the addition of a third manual (hopefully!).

 

JA

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The screen name of a forum member prompted me recently to investigate the fate of the organ of Westgate Baptist Church in Bradford. This was the first church I attended as a young boy and so will be where I first heard the organ, unless a few months before I was born, my mother helped her father on his tuning round.

According to the NPOR, the organ was an early work of J.J. Binns and although still used, is in a poor condition. However, to add insult to injury, the church has been divided in half horizontally by the addition of a ceiling at the height of the gallery. The Organ is now out of sight above the ceiling while the console (which I think was just behind the central pulpit) remains down below. I imagine this was to save on heating costs, but it must look dreadful, and the sound may not be quite what it was either! Does the ceiling vibrate when a certain pedal note is played?

Perhaps The Reverend Newnham can shed more light on this.

 

When I joined the Anglican church in Lausanne the organ hardly played at all and previously the council had decided to build a toilet inside the organ chamber. They assumed that nobody would ever need get in to tune the organ as it didn't work anyway! After a year or so of re-leathering and other repairs I brought the organ (IIIP pneumatic) back to life, but had to saw a large chunk out of the top of the 'convenience' cabinet to allow access to the pipes.

I frequently take revenge on anyone who dares answer the call of nature during my postlude by drawing the pedal 16' reed, the largest pipes of which are a few feet away from the unsuspecting victim.

 

Any more stories out there of similar 'Cruelty to Organs'?

 

Hi

 

Indeed I can comment - Westgate Baptist Church is part of the Central Bradford Baptist Fellowship - a group of 5 churches of which mine is a part. I've preached at Westgate occaisionally - and played the organ once.

 

The organ is indeed originally by Binns - one of his very early ones, before he gave them opus numbers. It started life as a 2m and was expanded to 3 (& rescaled) by a local (Binns trained) builder after it was moved to the present church building (which is nowhere near Westgate!). The "ceiling" you mention is actually plastic sheeting, so it only really affects the extreme top end of the organ sound - and yes, it does look horrible! It's been there for over 20 years I gather.

 

The organ, as far as I know, hasn't been played since the death of their organist 2 years or so ago - it was in a parlous state prior to that. There's currently no-one in the church who can play it.

 

Being in the heart of Manningham (around 90% Asian) and facing a very large sum to repair the building, the whole future looks grim - and certainly, restoring the organ isn't a high priority. There's a fair chance that the buildings may be redeveloped - but that's far from certain - but whatever, I hope the organ can either be restored, or at least saved and re-used elsewhere. It made a fine sound, and is pretty versatile.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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There's a rather amusing tale of a church not too many miles away from me. After it was built in the 1960s to serve a new housing estate, the powers that be realized that the architect had forgotten to make allowance for an organ chamber. This, unfortunately, was only discovered after the church had been built!

 

So, part of the brand new church was demolished in order that an organ could be installed.

 

A couple of years back the church building was closed for a couple of months in order for it to be reordered. The church was divided into two by a solid wall. One half of it was to be kept for worship, the other half to serve as a new community hall. It was only after the wall was built, dividing the building in two, that some bright spark realized that the organ had been overlooked and had been left in the community hall part, and that there was no room for it in the part set aside for worship!

 

I understand that they're still having to sing unaccompanied......! :(

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