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Peter Conacher Unit Extension


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Hello Everyone,

 

Several years ago I bought a small unit extension pipe organ. For the last two or three years it has had to be moved around a couple of times and stored, but finally I have started to get it built at my home. Its not in bad condition, built around about 1960, and now I am getting to work on the organ more often I am trying to find a bit more about it. It was built by Peter Conacher and was removed from a disused Methodist church in Nuneaton. The detached console has a serial number 1879 and the organ has two manuals (61 Notes), Pedals (32 Notes) and three extension ranks, 8' Diapason (85 notes), 8' Dulciana (85 notes) and 16' Bourdon/ Stopped Flute (85 notes). The whole organ was designed to be housed in its own pipe chamber, with swell shutters connecting it to the church, and hidden behind a screen of false pipes.

 

One of my questions is, a number of other organ builders had similar sized 'off the peg' organs that were intended for budget installations, such as the Compton 'Augmentum' organ. Was this organ a similar venture for Conacher's? and dit it have similar trade name? or would it still have been built specificly for its location? It looks like a standard design, as a number of the pipes had been rearranged on the offnote chests and mitred to fit the contours of the chamber roof, but the toe holes in the chests were clearly laid out for the pipes to be in chromatic order.

 

Another striking thing I have noticed, although it was clearly built by, or for, Conachers, it is almost identical in detail to some Compton organs I have seen. I know it was built for Conachers because the keyboards, currently in a poor state, were actually made by Herrburger Brooks Ltd, but still have attached their job number tags, "Ser no. 69128 and 69129, 13/4/60, Conacher Organ 1, Size 1+2, C to C.B.F" thats the only piece of dating evidence I have for the organ. But other details like the main cable terminating board are absolutly identical to ones pictured in the back of a Compton Electrone, built around the same time.

 

Another clue to the organs origins could be the pipes, Each lowest 'C' pipe in metal in each rank is named and serial numbered, 'C' Rohr Flute No. 576 B Hirst, 'C' Open Diapason No. 577 and Dulciana No. 579 B Hirst. Not being expert in the history of these makers, I presume B Hirst was the voicer, but did he work for Conacher's, or is this a clue that the organ could have been bought in or parts made by Compton? The matrix relay in the console is almost identical to one pictured on the Cinema organ society's website, and is labeled ther as compton as well.

 

I hope you can help shed light on some of my questions,

 

Ian

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Another clue to the organs origins could be the pipes, Each lowest 'C' pipe in metal in each rank is named and serial numbered, 'C' Rohr Flute No. 576 B Hirst, 'C' Open Diapason No. 577 and Dulciana No. 579 B Hirst. Not being expert in the history of these makers, I presume B Hirst was the voicer, but did he work for Conacher's, or is this a clue that the organ could have been bought in or parts made by Compton? The matrix relay in the console is almost identical to one pictured on the Cinema organ society's website, and is labeled ther as compton as well.

 

I hope you can help shed light on some of my questions,

Ian

 

Brian Hirst was a Pipe Maker at Conacher's in Huddersfield: I believe he is still alive - I last spoke to him on the telephone four years ago and he sounded very lively!

 

DW

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Hello Everyone,

 

Several years ago I bought a small unit extension pipe organ. For the last two or three years it has had to be moved around a couple of times and stored, but finally I have started to get it built at my home. Its not in bad condition, built around about 1960, and now I am getting to work on the organ more often I am trying to find a bit more about it. It was built by Peter Conacher and was removed from a disused Methodist church in Nuneaton. The detached console has a serial number 1879 and the organ has two manuals (61 Notes), Pedals (32 Notes) and three extension ranks, 8' Diapason (85 notes), 8' Dulciana (85 notes) and 16' Bourdon/ Stopped Flute (85 notes). The whole organ was designed to be housed in its own pipe chamber, with swell shutters connecting it to the church, and hidden behind a screen of false pipes.

 

One of my questions is, a number of other organ builders had similar sized 'off the peg' organs that were intended for budget installations, such as the Compton 'Augmentum' organ. Was this organ a similar venture for Conacher's? and dit it have similar trade name? or would it still have been built specificly for its location? It looks like a standard design, as a number of the pipes had been rearranged on the offnote chests and mitred to fit the contours of the chamber roof, but the toe holes in the chests were clearly laid out for the pipes to be in chromatic order.

 

Another striking thing I have noticed, although it was clearly built by, or for, Conachers, it is almost identical in detail to some Compton organs I have seen. I know it was built for Conachers because the keyboards, currently in a poor state, were actually made by Herrburger Brooks Ltd, but still have attached their job number tags, "Ser no. 69128 and 69129, 13/4/60, Conacher Organ 1, Size 1+2, C to C.B.F" thats the only piece of dating evidence I have for the organ. But other details like the main cable terminating board are absolutly identical to ones pictured in the back of a Compton Electrone, built around the same time.

 

Another clue to the organs origins could be the pipes, Each lowest 'C' pipe in metal in each rank is named and serial numbered, 'C' Rohr Flute No. 576 B Hirst, 'C' Open Diapason No. 577 and Dulciana No. 579 B Hirst. Not being expert in the history of these makers, I presume B Hirst was the voicer, but did he work for Conacher's, or is this a clue that the organ could have been bought in or parts made by Compton? The matrix relay in the console is almost identical to one pictured on the Cinema organ society's website, and is labeled ther as compton as well.

 

I hope you can help shed light on some of my questions,

 

Ian

 

Hi

 

Brian Hirst's book "Just a Box of Whistles" might throw some light on the subject and is an interesting read anyway. he was a pipe maker for Conachers. There's also been a series on Chonacher theatre organs in the COS magazine recently, but that doesn't mention the church instruments.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi

 

Brian Hirst's book "Just a Box of Whistles" might throw some light on the subject and is an interesting read anyway. he was a pipe maker for Conachers. There's also been a series on Chonacher theatre organs in the COS magazine recently, but that doesn't mention the church instruments.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

Hi Tony et al,

 

Spent the best half of the afternoon chasing up a copy of Brians book, to no avail. Amazon say its out of print and on a few 'wish lists', Abebooks cant find me secondhand copy and I've tried both our City and Shire librarys, and neither hold it. As it has an ISBN number it must be held by the British library, so I'll have to go and put a book request in and wait for it to appear. At least you confirm that the organ was built by Conacher's.

 

I have another question though, that I hope someone may shed light on. When I bought the organ it had already been dismantled by its previous owner. He had pretty specific ideas about what he was going to be doing with it, so at the time of dismantling several parts were scrapped. One being the main cable, along with the pipe chamber terminating board and most of the cabling off the chests. The second being the rectifier unit. The wiring loom I have re-made, along with a new terminating board, being a BT engineer from the days of the old elecromechanical telephone exchanges has paid off here.

 

However, the missing rectifier is causing me problems. Can anyone tell me if these organs worked from several different supply voltages? I always thought that a single supply of 14V was about the norm but this organ seems to have several requirements. For a start, the console is wired for a pilot lamp, to show the organ is on, a signalling lamp marked Vestry and built in lighting over the stop tabs. These are fed from their own 2 pin connector in the back of the console, and the bulbs are all 12Volt bulbs.

 

The pipe chests however are a bit hit and miss if keyed at 12Volts. The smaller chest magnets are just about ok at this, but the bigger magnets on some of the offset chests wont pull in without about 14-15Volts. This is what I thought would be the normal voltage, but if fed to the lighting supply on the console, the bulbs wouldn't last very long.

 

The console is fitted with a combination system with thumb pistons, with second touch for pedal combinations, and toe pistons. It also houses the matrix relay for the unification and extension switching. None of this will work reliably without at least 18Volts, but this causes sparking if applied to the keying circuits, and would definately finish off the bulbs. There is also a light illuminating the pedals wired off the console busbars. THis appears to have a 24Volt bulb in it, though the markings have rubbed off.

 

Was it normal for these organs to have two or three different voltage supplies, the 12V bulbs could run from the keying supply at a push, but no way can the keying circuit run at 18-20 volts otherwise the keyboards would need new contacts every year.

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Ian

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