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Tony Newnham

Municipal Organs Under Threat

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Thank you Peter, having gone back some years, I now have more knowledge of the Dover Town Hall organ. I was certainly surprised that someone should have suggested that the organ was scrapped, because it was less than five years ago when i saw the organ pipes, There are, of course, two halls so it can be confusing.

I had already found out that it was a Hill Norman and Beard, and that the console was stored, but that was all.

So what happened to the Lady's bequest in respect of this organ ?

I guess it is up to the people of Dover to push for fund raising if they wish to hear this organ again.

I have enough to do in respect of a London organ.

Colin Richell.

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Guest Roffensis
I have recieved a short e-mail from Mr. Ian Tracey, which I am sure he would not mind sharing, which goes:

Dear Peter,

 

Many thanks for that -I was havign to fight quite a bit with things going off and notes not playing, and then the cipher.... but, as always, the old lady still sounded good!

All contributions gratefully received.

All the very best and thanks again,

 

so now that Liverpool is the city of the moment (culture), maybe some kind, thoughtful and very rich donor may come forward and spend a bit, to gain a lot on what I have been told by others, is among the largest and best of the "civic hall" instruments that we as a nation have (and I do not even live there) Is this what the industrialists of yesteryear used to do ?

I heard that a few years ago, Carlo Curley was taking a foreign chap round Newcastle city hall organ with a view to puchasing said instrument, wether that is true or not, I do not know

 

The problem with SGH is due largely to the fact that it has not seen an all out rebuild since 1931. The 1957 work was in essence a dollop and brushout, with repair to pipewrok and resetting of speech etc. The 1931 work was not good, and saw much revoicing and remodelling of ranks, but the Great and Swell remain incomparable. These departments were not really touched. In recent years the organ has been the victim of overheating, and there is a history of humidifiers in the hall burning out and so on, and so by now it really does need thorough work on it. Even the case is in a poor state, a moulding (a head) fell off years ago, and that has not been replaced, and the facade pipes look dirty and tarnished. The woodwork to the case is dry, and some of the gold decoration was crumbling years ago also. I well recall playing for recitals there and firstly having to ask a cleaner to clean up the many cigarette butts on the gallery.....all most reasuring. That's before we get into the state of the interior parts......

 

Of course the organ can sound magnificent even now, but it is a poor sound compared to what it was and should be. No one should judge it at all on how it sounds now. There is simply no comparison, the roar of the Tutti, the incredible ring and roll it had are not at all how they were, and although yes we should all dig deep into our pockets to see the job done and properly, the fact remains this organ is a civic organ, owned by the city, which us locals pay for in our Council Tax!....the maintenance and restoration of the organ should be seen as a responsibility and privilege the city council hold. That of course is another matter!

 

R

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The problem with SGH is due largely to the fact that it has not seen an all out rebuild since 1931. The 1957 work was in essence a dollop and brushout, with repair to pipewrok and resetting of speech etc. The 1931 work was not good, and saw much revoicing and remodelling of ranks, but the Great and Swell remain incomparable. These departments were not really touched. In recent years the organ has been the victim of overheating, and there is a history of humidifiers in the hall burning out and so on, and so by now it really does need thorough work on it. Even the case is in a poor state, a moulding (a head) fell off years ago, and that has not been replaced, and the facade pipes look dirty and tarnished. The woodwork to the case is dry, and some of the gold decoration was crumbling years ago also. I well recall playing for recitals there and firstly having to ask a cleaner to clean up the many cigarette butts on the gallery.....all most reasuring. That's before we get into the state of the interior parts......

 

Of course the organ can sound magnificent even now, but it is a poor sound compared to what it was and should be. No one should judge it at all on how it sounds now. There is simply no comparison, the roar of the Tutti, the incredible ring and roll it had are not at all how they were, and although yes we should all dig deep into our pockets to see the job done and properly, the fact remains this organ is a civic organ, owned by the city, which us locals pay for in our Council Tax!....the maintenance and restoration of the organ should be seen as a responsibility and privilege the city council hold. That of course is another matter!

 

R

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Perhaps a professional fund raiser might be able to help, for we all know that the money is out there somewhere.

At least the St Georges Hall organ is playable, unlike so many.Wish you luck.

A church near me, is looking for £250,000 just to clean and overhaul the pipes and refurbishment of soundboards and work on the console (It is a Harrison and Harrison), but when you visit the church and ask questions about how the organ fund is going, no-one knows anything, and they do not even offer you a leaflet or contact number. They just seem disinterested. Is this typical I wonder ? Would they rather buy an electronic I wonder ?

.

Colin Richell.

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Guest Roffensis
Perhaps a professional fund raiser might be able to help, for we all know that the money is out there somewhere.

At least the St Georges Hall organ is playable, unlike so many.Wish you luck.

A church near me, is looking for £250,000 just to clean and overhaul the pipes and refurbishment of soundboards and work on the console (It is a Harrison and Harrison), but when you visit the church and ask questions about how the organ fund is going, no-one knows anything, and they do not even offer you a leaflet or contact number. They just seem disinterested. Is this typical I wonder ? Would they rather buy an electronic I wonder ?

.

Colin Richell.

 

 

Oh yes! Very typical. There are many excellent organs in Liverpool, and far too many are now silent. I single out St. Dunstan, Edge Hill, 3 manual Fr. Willis (silent and disconnected). St. Francis Xavier, Everton, 4 manual Hill (ditto), and St. Mary, Edge Hill, 3 manual Bewsher and Fleetwood (badly vandalised), very early 1800s, with a very forward looking specification. The latter now (2007) has Great and other pipework literally flattened and trampled on, probably also used as missiles etc, yet this organ had its blower disconnected when playable......nuff said on that one, you'll get the point.....I do not recall seeing this organ in such a deplorable condition, and this truly is a historic organ, close to the Universities and hence students. Rest assured if there is no money for SGH these organs will not see restoration either. People in churches have been "brainwashed" not to want or require them. Music in churches is now basically second rate rubbish so in many cases the trusty toaster will do! Even sadder is the wanton vandalism done to Cathedral organs by consultants and organ builders, best not go there either. I have said before that one day we will find even the likes of a Salisbury, Hereford, or Canterbury, Chester or Peterborough will be deemed "unsuitable" or "unusable" or whatever excuse is made, and eventually be outed, to be replaced by some new fangled anybuilder organ. If we can't look after what we have, really what hope is there!!?? Hopefully by then I shall be 6 feet under, meantime I prefer to go to Orchestral concerts. At least the orchestras can't be ****** up. :blink:

 

R

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One of the reasons why some civic authorities are disinclined to pay for large-scale organ renovations is a lack of support for recitals. I can’t speak for Liverpool SGH, but I suppose the two cathedrals now tend to have a more stronger pull. Two recitals I attended in Liverpool last September – Paul Derret at the Met and the brilliant young James Norrey at the Anglican Cathedral – were quite well attended, particularly the recital at the Anglican Cathedral.

 

The situation in Sheffield is that the 1932 Willis III is not in all that bad a state, thanks largely to local enthusiasts in spite of it not having undergone a major overhaul for countless years. But it is hardly ever regularly played these days by recognised recitalists or others. It might get winded-up once in a while for use in conjunction with a visiting symphony orchestra.

 

But on a more serious note I am led to understand that there is some concern at Hanley, Stoke on Trent, over the decline in numbers at the Victoria Hall. It’s not many years ago that David Wells did a lot of work on the Willis III and not many years before that it was rebuilt by HN&B. and so it’s not in bad nick. I'm told it may even mean an end to the regular organ proms because there is little, if any, subsidy from the council.

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Oh yes! Very typical. There are many excellent organs in Liverpool, and far too many are now silent. I single out St. Dunstan, Edge Hill, 3 manual Fr. Willis (silent and disconnected). St. Francis Xavier, Everton, 4 manual Hill (ditto), and St. Mary, Edge Hill, 3 manual Bewsher and Fleetwood (badly vandalised), very early 1800s, with a very forward looking specification. The latter now (2007) has Great and other pipework literally flattened and trampled on, probably also used as missiles etc, yet this organ had its blower disconnected when playable......nuff said on that one, you'll get the point.....I do not recall seeing this organ in such a deplorable condition, and this truly is a historic organ, close to the Universities and hence students. Rest assured if there is no money for SGH these organs will not see restoration either. People in churches have been "brainwashed" not to want or require them. Music in churches is now basically second rate rubbish so in many cases the trusty toaster will do! Even sadder is the wanton vandalism done to Cathedral organs by consultants and organ builders, best not go there either. I have said before that one day we will find even the likes of a Salisbury, Hereford, or Canterbury, Chester or Peterborough will be deemed "unsuitable" or "unusable" or whatever excuse is made, and eventually be outed, to be replaced by some new fangled anybuilder organ. If we can't look after what we have, really what hope is there!!?? Hopefully by then I shall be 6 feet under, meantime I prefer to go to Orchestral concerts. At least the orchestras can't be ****** up. :blink:

 

R

I'm sure nobody would get rid of a 4-manual Willis in a cathedral. Incidentally I played Howells Hereford Service at Cathedral Evensong in Gloucester last Saturday, one of the choir came up to me afterwards and said "I suppose the organ is substantially the same as it would have been when Howells new it"...

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Perhaps a professional fund raiser might be able to help, for we all know that the money is out there somewhere.

 

 

==================================

 

 

Where?

 

Periodically, money becomes available for grand arts projects; usually from special arts development funding or local authority refurbishment provision. I suppose this might include projects such as Birmingham Symphony Hall, that thing that looks like a slug in Gateshead, and the restoration of the Fesitval Hall, among other things.

 

Compare this to sport, if you will. Our minds may immediately focus on the Olympic stadium for East London, but before then, a rather more vast amount of money will have been thrown at football; now supported largely by private and corporate investment, and far removed from the days when ordinary folk could afford to go and watch a game. It's all about advertising revenue, TV revenue, transfer fees and prestige: nothing at all to do with sport, as such.

 

The same is true of something like Formula One, which although a sport, is actually a huge advertising machine presented as a circus as it moves around the world. Without the largest corporate advertisers, world TV rights and direct sponsorship, it would collapse overnight due to the vast expenditure involved in it, which runs to hundreds of millions a year.

 

If we consider music for a moment, then the big money is in the pop-industry: actually one of our very biggest exports around the world to-day, and which as a nation, we are fantastically good at. That doesn't come from local authorities providing studios, or places where kids can go and strum a guitar. Oh no! It comes from a cynical system of selection and exploitation these days, and not from somewhere like the "Cavern Club" in Liverpool, where "The Beatles" started out. Consequently, huge budgets are thrown at things like "Pop Idol" and "Britain's got talent," because it makes good TV, it brings in big sponsorship, it creates its own world market and it sells records and videos.

 

This is the crunch, because the big money nowadays, is in the hands of corporate bodies rather than in the hands of wealthy philianthropists, and accountants are not noted for their artistic benevolence by and large.

 

Even philanthropy is an overstated gesture, because if we were to transport ourselves back to the high-point of town-hall organs and cathedral-organs, you would stumble across a system of patronage and sycophancy which would make "cash for honours" seem like a party game at the vicarage of a Sunday evening. Certain individuals were so wealthy, they could rebuild St Alban's Cathedral (Lord Grimshaw) out of their own pockets. It was all part of a move to improve the quality of life and to bring civilisation to uncivilised people; at least on the surface. Beneath that, was the very real fear of revolution, as had happened in France, and which shook the establishment to their foundations.

 

So without being over-cyncial, the great philanthropic works were, at best, examples of "enlightened self interest."

 

I actually quite like the idea of slush-funds and blatant patronage, which cannot be any worse than bland corporate accountancy, for the simple reason that the BIG money is self-promoting, self-selecting and self-interested. Meanwhile, the whole meaning of sport, art and public involvement has gone down the (Victorian) drain, and kids now stab each other in the streets for fun.

 

So to answer the question, can anyone see any possible advantage to anyone, or any corporation, by throwing money at Town Hall organs?

 

I can't think of a single advantage, even though I would love to see it.

 

No-one is going to get rich, and no-one is going to be handed a peerage in return.

 

MM

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One of the reasons why some civic authorities are disinclined to pay for large-scale organ renovations is a lack of support for recitals. (snip)

 

The other reason is that such things are an extraordinary expenditure, when even normal expenditure is under pressure.

 

The situation in Sheffield is that the 1932 Willis III is not in all that bad a state, thanks largely to local enthusiasts in spite of it not having undergone a major overhaul for countless years.

 

Exactly my point about local involvement. The theatre organ people have been very well organised over the years, and have demonstrated (and continue to demonstrate) what can be achieved when small groups of people care enough.

 

I'm told it may even mean an end to the regular organ proms because there is little, if any, subsidy from the council.

 

Yet another case for unpaid, local involvement, where competent non-professional musicians can at least keep organ-art alive to some degree.

 

The moral here is simple. What may take a lifetime, or even generations to build up, can be destroyed in a couple of decades by indifference and apathy.

 

MM

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People in churches have been "brainwashed" not to want or require them. Music in churches is now basically second rate rubbish so in many cases the trusty toaster will do!

 

 

============================

 

 

What a pity you couldn't have included the rubbish theology, the steady plod towards puritan fundamentalism and the complete irrelevance of religion which the vast majority of people now feel.

 

I predicted all this back in 1975, and again in 1981, but I take no pleasure in being able to say, "I told you so."

 

:blink:

 

MM

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How many millionaires are there in the UK ? Are you telling me that not one of them is interested in classical or even light classical organ music ?

I know one who has bought 5 steam railway locomotives and still has money to spare.(and we are talking about millions) A professional fund raiser would find them, and the benefactor would regard this as just a hobby, but of course offer them public credit to make them feel wanted.and important. Whats wrong with that ?

Colin Richell.

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How many millionaires are there in the UK ? Are you telling me that not one of them is interested in classical or even light classical organ music ?

I know one who has bought 5 steam railway locomotives and still has money to spare.(and we are talking about millions) A professional fund raiser would find them, and the benefactor would regard this as just a hobby, but of course offer them public credit to make them feel wanted.and important. Whats wrong with that ?

Colin Richell.

 

 

================================

 

 

I didn't say there was anything wrong in it, did I?

 

I wouldn't care if the Liverpool Organists got together to produce a naked calender; though I may baulk at the thought of buying one!

 

So where are all the multi-millionaires (they would have to be multi-millionaires for Liverpool) who are falling over themselves to give money to a worthy organ project, or even turn up at a concert?

 

You don't seem to have done too well in the capital city, and that tends to suggest that "a professional fund-raiser" might have difficulty in even paying his own salary and out-of-pocket expenses.

 

The bald fact is: what works will work, and what doesn't will not.

 

Interestingly, if some organisation such as ATOS (American theatre organ society) or the COS (Cinema Organ Society) had the interests of the organ in St.George's Hall, Liverpool at heart, (or even another famous instrument somewhere in London....I forget where), the instruments would be in pristine condition and playing perfectly by now.

 

That's the difference I'm afraid. They're practical people who roll up their sleeves and get stuck in, and don't rely on the time and generosity of others.

 

MM

 

 

PS: Sir Elton John bought an old tram in Australia, and had it shipped to the UK.

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Edinburgh throws up a couple of good points here.

 

1. The recitals in the Usher Hall are well supported since the organ came back in, though sadly they have had to decamp to St Cuthberts while the hall is now under repair.

2. I hear on the grapevine that Mr Kwik-Fit has provided a substantial amount of the money for the new Copley instrument in the Ctholic Cathedral. Perhaps our fellow forum member Simon N could confirm how large his involvment was?

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Edinburgh throws up a couple of good points here.

 

1. The recitals in the Usher Hall are well supported since the organ came back in, though sadly they have had to decamp to St Cuthberts while the hall is now under repair.

2. I hear on the grapevine that Mr Kwik-Fit has provided a substantial amount of the money for the new Copley instrument in the Ctholic Cathedral. Perhaps our fellow forum member Simon N could confirm how large his involvment was?

 

 

Did I not read somewhere the basis of the new Copley organ in St Mary's Catholic Cathedral Edinburgh came from the Wilkinson organ formerly in Preston Town Hall?

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Did I not read somewhere the basis of the new Copley organ in St Mary's Catholic Cathedral Edinburgh came from the Wilkinson organ formerly in Preston Town Hall?

 

 

========================

 

 

My words, I hadn't heard that before!

 

It DOES explain a certain puzzlement on hearing it broadcast this past week. I was wondering exactly why we had big diapason sounds and (gosh) a bright Tuba!

 

I'm sure it would sound much better in the flesh, but it was actually quite impressive on the radio.

 

On first listening to the music played by Simon, I didn't hear the announcement, and for a while, it reminded me of Hull City Hall almost but not quite.

 

I suspect that Wilkinson was one of those very capable provincial builders; rather like Taylor of Leicester, and I certainly remember discussions about the fate of the organ when it was in Preston Town Hall.

 

Apparently, it has a terraced console, which must be something of a first in modern UK organ-building.

 

MM

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snip

 

Apparently, it has a terraced console, which must be something of a first in modern UK organ-building.

 

MM

 

 

There are quite a few actually.

Nicholsons have provided them with even seriously small jobs (like Lugwardine) and before they got into this particular groove, Walkers had done the same with Exeter College Oxford and St.Chad's Cathedral Birmingham among others. H&H have certainly made some, e.g. St.Mary's Twickenham.

 

Do you like terraces, then, MM?

I ask because although I think they look nice, I find it difficult to read the stops. Maybe it's just me.

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Talking about money ,,,,or the lack of it, I must tell on a totaly unrelated incident.

A lady came to my shop this morning and asked for 2 pork sausages, and changed her mind and said can I have 3, to which I replied, are you having company :lol:

I know its nothing to do with organs, but, just goes to show if there was ever an organ in Goole, it would stand no chance whatsoever of getting any public money , well not from the suporters of Goole Market

regards

Peter ( the poor butcher)

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Did I not read somewhere the basis of the new Copley organ in St Mary's Catholic Cathedral Edinburgh came from the Wilkinson organ formerly in Preston Town Hall?

 

Hi

 

It's in"The Organ" No. 343 (March-May 2008) and possibly on Copley's web-site. NPOR survey and some pix are at

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=E01163

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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There are quite a few actually.

Nicholsons have provided them with even seriously small jobs (like Lugwardine) and before they got into this particular groove, Walkers had done the same with Exeter College Oxford and St.Chad's Cathedral Birmingham among others. H&H have certainly made some, e.g. St.Mary's Twickenham.

 

Do you like terraces, then, MM?

I ask because although I think they look nice, I find it difficult to read the stops. Maybe it's just me.

 

 

==========================

 

 

Pardon my ignorance!

 

I like the LOOK of terraced consoles, but to be absolutely honest, I've only ever played one or two of any real substance.

 

One of them would have had the Rev.Tony Newham fascinated, because it was actually a VERY large reed-organ, with three-manuals and pedals, which stood broodingly in a corner of the old Laycock & Bannister premises when it was at Crosshills junction, Keighley. To this day, I have absolutely no idea who made it or form whence it came, but it was either French or Belgian; judging by the stop names. I seem to recall that it had a 32ft pedal, and also, the stop labels were at 45 degrees; making them easier to read on the terraces.

 

Sadly, when the company moved, this poor old thing was chopped up and burned. It was like nothing else I have seen before, so they may have destroyed a real piece of history.

 

I suspect that the stop-key console is infinitely more ergonomic than terraces, and especially the semi-horshoe consoles of Hill, Norman & Beard Ltd, which were such a delight. There are a few left around; the ones I know being at Bradford Grammar School, Keighley PC and, of course, Leeds Cathedral (St.Anne).

 

Terraced consoles seem quite popular in Eastern Europe, but more popular still are the consoles where all the stops are on one side (the left); especially with stop-tab or stop-key consoles.

 

I've often wondered how ergonomic these are; especially since I often pull out the right-hand stops with my left-hand during services; which I suspect many of us do. When you put your mind to it, this is such a complex movement which defies the laws of good ergonomics. For service accompaniment, I can't help but think that with all the stops on the left hand side, life has to be much easier.

 

Of course, from a visual point of view, few things look better than a traditional English (or American/Canadian) draw-stop console.

 

Just a correction about the new (old) organ in the RC cathedral, Edinburgh. I stated that the organ has a Tuba, but on checking the spec, it is not. What it DOES have is what I have been recommending for some time; a really potent Harmonic Trumpet. So when Paul asked for examples. I could only come up with Bradford Cathedral. Now we have another in Edinburgh, and it sounds terrific if the recording heard on Radio 2 is anything to go by.

 

I also note that I have been almost living next-door to the Wilkinson organ from Preston Town Hall, which was in storage at the redundant architectural masterpiece of All Soul's, Hayley Hill, Halifax (Architect Sir Giles Gilbert-Scott), before finding a safer home at the old Dean-Clough, carpet-mill complex, which used to be the Crossley Carpets business; in its day, something like a mile in length from one end to the other, with possibly half-a-dozen large chimmney stacks of enormous size. It even had its own good yard from the railway, and its own rail coal-hoppers to supply the boilers which then powered the steam-engines driving the mill.

 

It was a very fitting storage site for the Preston Town Hall organ, because the Crossley family were great church benefactors, and paid for at least one large organ in the Congreational Church, Halifax, which sadly burned down about 50 years ago; leaving only the impressive spire which still dominates the lower-central town area.

 

I often wonder how many organs the mill-owners had built out of their own pockets, but it must have been an awful lot.

 

MM

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There are quite a few actually.

Nicholsons have provided them with even seriously small jobs (like Lugwardine) and before they got into this particular groove, Walkers had done the same with Exeter College Oxford and St.Chad's Cathedral Birmingham among others. H&H have certainly made some, e.g. St.Mary's Twickenham.

 

Do you like terraces, then, MM?

I ask because although I think they look nice, I find it difficult to read the stops. Maybe it's just me.

Paul, have you or anyone else come across a 2 man & ped H & H?? in a church in Fenham, Newcastle. I went there with a friend quite a few years ago, and recorded ( now lost :angry: ) it had a terraced cosole, and boy, what a sound from a small organ

regards

Peter

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Paul, have you or anyone else come across a 2 man & ped H & H?? in a church in Fenham, Newcastle. I went there with a friend quite a few years ago, and recorded ( now lost :angry: ) it had a terraced cosole, and boy, what a sound from a small organ

regards

Peter

 

Hi

 

Would that be http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N09137 ?

 

It's the only H&H in the town that's listed on NPOR.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Paul, have you or anyone else come across a 2 man & ped H & H?? in a church in Fenham, Newcastle. I went there with a friend quite a few years ago, and recorded ( now lost :angry: ) it had a terraced cosole, and boy, what a sound from a small organ

regards

Peter

 

 

Short answer, yes.

A thoroughly decent organ, though I was amused to hear that they are already on their second rank of pipes for the Great Trumpet and are hoping for a further set to replace that!

 

P.

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Short answer, yes.

A thoroughly decent organ, though I was amused to hear that they are already on their second rank of pipes for the Great Trumpet and are hoping for a further set to replace that!

 

P.

 

Why so many?

 

AJJ

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