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Inspired Expediency


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I was once organist at a church which had a chancel divided instrument, with the Swell/Great and Pedal on one side, and an enclosed Choir Organ on t'other.


Disaster almost struck when the blower motor burned out in the main section; causing quite a bit of damage to the mercifully remote area around the blower. With insurance being claims being considered, it was some time before anyone could decide what to do; leaving us with only the enclosed Choir organ to accompany singing in what was a very large Victorian church.


The first two Sundays were hopeless, even though I clambered up and opened the rear doors of the expression box which formed the access to the Choir Organ pipework. A Victorian, with a scratchy added string among the 8's, a rather delicate 2' flute, and the sole climax reed being a Clarinet, a piano was a better option it seemed.


Then I had an idea!


I had in my possession a couple of ranks of pipes; given to me by an organ-builder, and both of 2ft pitch taken from an old organ somewhere. Both were 15th ranks, spotted metal and looked promising.


I called my friend the organ-builder, and we measured up the rack-holes of the 2ft Choir Flute, and those of the 8ft String. A few hours later, and we had installed a temporary 2ft and 1.3/5, which with the octave couple and the foundations, sounded really rather good and proved powerful enough and bright enough to accompany a congregation. We had carefully stored the Viole d'Orchestra and the Flageolet pipes. Of course, the Terz ran out of notes at the top....but hey ho!


Over the next few weeks, I carried out a bit of fine regulation to the temporary registers, and it all worked a treat from then on. In time, the main section of the organ was repaired, and things could return to normal, but until then, the new "Positive" division had held the fort, with the back-doors open and the swell-shades removed.


They only returned to normal about three years later, when I left the church for another appointment; the assistant organist quite gutted when he heard the instrument as it was previously.


Some churches have spent a fortune on tonal modifications over the years, but my little Heath Robinson conversion cost £17.34p in glue and felt!


I'd like to bet that it could never be repeated!



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