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Frederick Rothwell


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On another quest, I came across something about this builder, of whom I had never heard, and his novel stop arrangement. Here (I hope) is the reference:

http://www.stgeorgeheadstone.org.uk/section/4.

I'm curious to know if anyone has played one of these and if so what it was like.

 

The organ at Barnet Parish Church had a Rothwell console like this before the one inserted by our hosts in the mid 1960s - I vaguely remember it but was rather too young then to consider it in any way that I would now. There was an asbestos lined 'orifice' with a little door on it (I vaguely seem to remember) containing the master switch which used to spark when turned on. There is one who comes on here who might remember things better however.

 

A

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Loved the picture. Is not RF the very image of Cesar Franck at the console of Ste Clothilde ?

 

Hmmm. Rothwell...I came across a few. The stop tabs were rather fiddly to use and I couldn't honestly see any benefits in having them. Rothwell pneumatic actions were very fast with good repetition. His wind systems sometimes incoproarted floating bellows (schwimmelbalge) long before other UK builders.

 

Tonally, quite pleasing, firmly voiced flue choruses and plangent reeds.

 

H

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On another quest, I came across something about this builder, of whom I had never heard, and his novel stop arrangement. Here (I hope) is the reference:

http://www.stgeorgeheadstone.org.uk/section/4.

I'm curious to know if anyone has played one of these and if so what it was like.

I played one when at school, as mentioned here. It had no Mixture on the Swell, and a rather strident 2-rank (19 22) one on the Great. St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle had two Rothwell consoles on the screen, if I remember correctly.

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I heard Thomas Heywood play at Headstone a couple of years ago, and wow, what an incredible performer, and what an incredible organ! I didn't manage to play it myself but have played the smaller and untouched three manual house organ at the University of Wales in Gregynog and, apart from its failing condition, found the stop "keys" very easy and logical to adapt to, though their presence did mean that there was very little space for combination pistons (which were just identical "keys" in any case).

 

Throwing the question open wider, what other unusual designs of stop control have people come across, apart from traditional drawstops or stop-tabs? Here's my starter for five:

 

LEDs

Button-sized drawstops - an credibly fine organ from a prolific builder local to Leicester, also HERE

ILLUMINATED BUTTONS

ILLUMINATED NON-DRAWABLE STOPS (why can't toaster-makers stretch to real drawstops?)

LCD TOUCHSCREEN (perfect for the Hauptwerk system, but surely it won't be long before a real pipe organ has such jambs)

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There is a largish 3 manual Rothwell in All Soul’s, Ascot; I played there regularly during the 80s and early 90s. I remember that it seemed a good instrument with a particularly effective swell. The tabs between the keys didn’t really make for easy stop control, though I suppose one could get used to anything if one tried for long enough. However, what I could never have become accustomed to was the fact that the keyboards were necessarily miles apart, (note the picture of Roger Fisher playing the Headstone organ) and also getting my feet on to the swell pedal and even managing the pedal notes themselves proved the organ to be effectively useless for practice, certainly as far as I was concerned. Perhaps those of more concise dimensions might have found the organ more rewarding than I did. Shame, because it sounded well in the church.

 

I would be interested to know from others whether they have found the same problem with Rothwell consoles.

 

David Harrison

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The Annunciation, Marble Arch also had a Rothwell with his idiosyncratic console - I know because I took my Grade 6 on it in the early 80s! It was difficult but not impossible to get used to with a little practice. When Bishops restored the organ in 1989, a traditional console replaced the Rothwell one although I think they preserved the sound of the Rothwell which I seem to remember was quite exciting

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[keys" in any case).

 

Throwing the question open wider, what other unusual designs of stop control have people come across, apart from traditional drawstops or stop-tabs? Here's my starter for five:

 

LEDs

Button-sized drawstops - an credibly fine organ from a prolific builder local to Leicester, also HERE

ILLUMINATED BUTTONS

ILLUMINATED NON-DRAWABLE STOPS (why can't toaster-makers stretch to real drawstops?)

LCD TOUCHSCREEN (perfect for the Hauptwerk system, but surely it won't be long before a real pipe organ has such jambs)

 

 

Norman & Beard did a system with stops all in a row above the top manual, and there was a small button underneath each stop. You pushed the button in and the stop came out, and to cancel it you pushed the stop in again. I know they built these at St Mary Banbury, and St John the Evangelist Bradford, but there may have been others. the Bradford organ has been altered to stop tabs, don't know about Banbury it was in the late 70s when I played it, and this system was intact then. See NPOR survey N01269 which has photos.

 

For some years I played an organ at Lutterworth with the Taylor system as you describe. Some found it fiddly, but I soon got used to it. This organ also had double-touch on all the pistons, effectively great/swell and pedal combinations coupled and the reverse on the pedal pistons. Again, once you discovered its existence(!) and how to set it up it worked well.

 

R.

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Throwing the question open wider, what other unusual designs of stop control have people come across, apart from traditional drawstops or stop-tabs?

Don't forget Hele's patent stop-keys - tilting tablets in effect. See the photos of the old organ at St Andrew's, Plymouth, here. The one-manual chamber organ at St Andrew's that was destroyed along with the four-decker also had them, but I don't know how common they were. I've never actually come across any examples, but I am told they are quite comfortable and convenient to use.

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Whilst at the wedding reception of a relative a couple of years ago at Grittleton Manor in Wiltshire, I came across an organ on the upper floor which had a stop mechanism which was quite unlike anything I'd seen before - each stop had two brass keys, placed in rows above the manuals, one of which switched the stop on, the other switching it off.

 

A look here on NPOR shows this system in greater detail. Sadly, the organ is now unplayable.

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