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Mander Organs

Percy Daniel & Co


AJJ

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Cawston Organs were at one time looking after quite a few important organs in the SW including Bath Abbey, Clifton Cathedral (I think) and also the Klais in Symphony Hall Birmingham. I am not sure if this is still the case but their reputation for this work seemed always to be good - this was a year or two ago though and I am not sure if Tony Cawston (who seemed to do much of the work then) is still in charge.

 

AJJ

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Guest Leathered-Lips
Cawston Organs were at one time looking after quite a few important organs in the SW including Bath Abbey, Clifton Cathedral (I think) and also the Klais in Symphony Hall Birmingham. I am not sure if this is still the case but their reputation for this work seemed always to be good - this was a year or two ago though and I am not sure if Tony Cawston (who seemed to do much of the work then) is still in charge.

 

AJJ

 

It all may be ok then, I havn't had any experience of Cawston Organs personally. I'm just bringing up the point that current PD staff seem to be being retained, apparently.

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It all may be ok then, I havn't had any experience of Cawston Organs personally. I'm just bringing up the point that current PD staff seem to be being retained, apparently.

 

Maybe the best thing is to try the Institute of British Organbuilding and see if any creditation that either firm had still stands. Since they were set up the IBO seems to have got itself well involved in sorting the profession out somewhat. They also have a very readable website and their journal is also good bedtime fodder - if you like that sort of thing!

 

http://www.ibo.co.uk/

 

AJJ

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Let me bring it back kinda to the original area of discussion. So here I am, I have a 15 year old organ which was rebuilt by PD.. Yes, it has the obligatory new mobile console.. Part of the organ which was rebuilt was purchased from another church, the other part is the original instrument for the church, manipulated wholesale by various builders over the years (including one of my predecessors!)

 

I would therefore be reluctant to say there is anything within it of historic interest or that is typical of a particular period or school of English Organ Building. It is an instrument which is very suitable to it's primary purpose of accompanying congregational singing and the choir.

 

I find it a flexible enough recital and examination instrument.

 

The thing is, it is starting to play tricks and I had thought this might be typical of an instrument of this age. Reading many of the detailed and knowledgeable responses in this thread has me worried that is certainly not the case. The quirks at the moment are all very minor but I worry they are prelude to bigger problems to come.

 

The question is therefore what do I do? Do I commission a thorough survey by Cawston Organs now they have purchased PD and see how the land lies? Or do I convince the PCC with appropriate arguments to employ someone else to do it? What is the "correct" approach here? Any thoughts appreciated..

 

I would most definitely look elsewhere, and probably not Deanes as they are only an extension of the redundant Osmond firm and probably not the route to go for longevity, or quality voicing/regulation (however frequent). I would talk to someone like Shaftoe, Meakin (if he's still trading independently), Stephen Cooke or John Budgen (if he's still doing electric work - think may be more selective now). Cooke did a major rebuild for me (on an ex Daniels instrument) in about 1990, including new pedal chests, wind regulation, revoicing and undoing Daniel's tonal alterations. None of it has missed a beat since despite only one tuning every two years, and the DOA at the time said the quality of the chest/schwimmers/wiring/traditional wind trunks was the best he had seen in many many years.

 

Ref Romsey - I have played this, ages ago - it seemed to me that the rebuild was eminently sensible, unifying the actions - there were about half a dozen things going on between the pedals and the pipes before, apparently - I was impressed with the restraint of the rebuild work, and the quality of the Mander work on it - the nicest sharp mixture I have ever heard. Not so sure about the horizontal Tuba though!!

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I would most definitely look elsewhere...

Absolutely agree. This is what I did to get work started at my church to sort out the organ:

 

first off, I got together with the tuner and the dioscean organ advisor (Jeffery Williams, who, incidentally was organist at Romsey Abbey) to look at the organ and identify its faults.

 

I then wrote to the church steering group (ministry team, churchwardens, PCC treasurer and PCC secretary) explaining we had problems with the organ. We had a meeting and decided (on my suggestion) to get an Independant Organ Advisor to look at the organ and suggest what the options were to fix it.

 

Through the AIOA, we comissioned Stephen Bicknell to inspect the organ and report on it, outline the options and recommend the best way forward. Stephen agreed with our feeling that the organ needed work. We set up a comittee to look into the options further and communicate the project through the church.

 

I presented this report to the PCC and the Church AGM, where the church decided to go ahead with Stephen's recommendations for reconstructing the organ in its original state.

 

We then went out to a tender process for the work, with Stephen acting as consultant. From a shortlist, we decided on a builder and the PCC accepted their proposals.

 

We then started fundraising in earnest - having the proposal helped a lot so people knew what they were contributing to.

 

When we reached a certain point in the fundraising, we signed the contract for the organ and work started in earnest on the organ.

 

Hope this helps.... I don't think it's a good idea to get the builders to recommend ideas at the first stage. firstly, they may not be getting paid and I feel it's taking unfair advantange of them; also you don't have a clear brief to give them and a clear idea of your budget. We had Walkers visit pretty much univited at an early stage, who put together a scheme that didn't attact me at all (since it didn't really fix any of the problems with the organ and just introduced a few new ones) and it eventually found itself in the waste paper bin - partly because it was a bad scheme and partly because I hadn't yet been able to set up the provision in the church to consider it.

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Thanks for all contributions.

 

Recalling that I am talking at this stage about minor niggles and trying to be proactive about it, and the fact that the last round of major fundraising/rebuild was only in 1990 (cost then c£125k) it's not very likely I'm going to get very far if I go the whole hog as suggested..

 

It may be that commissioning a report from an IOA will be the next step, at least on overall condition etc. Do I dare go back to the original Diocesan Adviser - who proposed the current scheme and no doubt recommended Daniels - and is now elsewhere but a very prominent IOA himself?

 

hmm...

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125 grand? Blimey! Could've had 5 new 2-manual Allens for that!!!!

 

Organ builders expect to make a proposal and solution. They expect to be judged at least partially on the basis of their proposal, its usefulness and relevance to the instrument's use. Often, it's best to have that viewpoint rather than the independent adviser who won't actually have to go and do the work or pay for it.

 

The builder I mentioned above did just that and came up with the only scheme for us that was remotely useful and practical, giving equal weight to the liturgical needs, the history of the instrument, the school of craftsmanship used in its construction, the budget available and the musicality of the solution. In my opinion this balance was exactly right.

 

Do you mind if I ask what part of the country you are in?

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Stephen Cooke has been asked to look at the instrument that I play with a view to restoring it to its 1 manual and 8 stop late nineteenth century pristine state. Not quite Westbury etc. in size but I like it. Lets hope.....!

 

AJJ

 

PS He's also a very competent organist.

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Stephen Cooke has been asked to look at the instrument that I play with a view to restoring it to its 1 manual and 8 stop late nineteenth century pristine state. Not quite Westbury etc. in size but I like it. Lets hope.....!

 

AJJ

 

PS He's also a very competent organist.

 

If he suggests moving it, let him. I have seen this work to awesome effect several tims. Not least Westbury.

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