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Will N

Porritt of Leicester

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Does anybody using this forum have any details of Porritt organ builders of Leicester? I look after a fairly large number of instruments by this builder but have been unsucesful in obtaining much information. I wonderd if anyone may be able to help? Im interested to find out how far away from Leicester any of his instruments managed to get and also details of any of the larger instruments built by this firm. I know of the fine organ built by them in Gilmoton Parish church (sadly in very poor shape at present) and have always wonderd if this was their largest instrument. Many thanks in anticipation of any information recieved!

 

Best wishes William Northmore

 

P.S. This is only my second post so please be gentle!!

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Have you tried the National Pipe Organ Register? From the NPOR menu on the top left, select "search by builder" and in the first box type "Porritt%" (without the quotes).

 

This brings up a list of some 66 organs in which Joshua Porritt had a hand, including one in Aberdeenshire and one in Weymouth, Dorset.

 

Gilmorton (All Saints, is it?) does not seem to be listed yet.

 

In interpreting NPOR one always needs to note the survey date, as the specification currently listed will often include the work of later builders. For example, there is a IV/46 at St Peter, Leicester, but this is largely the work of Taylor & Sons; Porritt had provided only for a III/36 - and most of that was prepared for.

 

It looks as though the largest Porritt listed may be the III/39 at St Mary's, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire (it's listed as a III/40, but this is after the 1952 work by Rushworth & Dreaper, cf. the secondary sources further down the page), but how much of this was Porritt's work (1910) and how much is from the original Wordsworth and Maskell is not stated.

 

There is also a III/38 at Christ Church, Clarendon Park Road, Leicester which was rebuilt without significant change by Rushworths in 1952.

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Have you tried the National Pipe Organ Register? From the NPOR menu on the top left, select "search by builder" and in the first box type "Porritt%" (without the quotes).

 

This brings up a list of some 66 organs in which Joshua Porritt had a hand, including one in Aberdeenshire and one in Weymouth, Dorset.

 

Gilmorton (All Saints, is it?) does not seem to be listed yet.

 

In interpreting NPOR one always needs to note the survey date, as the specification currently listed will often include the work of later builders. For example, there is a IV/46 at St Peter, Leicester, but this is largely the work of Taylor & Sons; Porritt had provided only for a III/36 - and most of that was prepared for.

 

It looks as though the largest Porritt listed may be the III/39 at St Mary's, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire (it's listed as a III/40, but this is after the 1952 work by Rushworth & Dreaper, cf. the secondary sources further down the page), but how much of this was Porritt's work (1910) and how much is from the original Wordsworth and Maskell is not stated.

 

There is also a III/38 at Christ Church, Clarendon Park Road, Leicester which was rebuilt without significant change by Rushworths in 1952.

 

Thankyou for replying Vox, I had checked the npor site and seen most of the information listed above although l hadnt found the Gilmorton on it for some reason.

I had assumed the Chipping Norton Organ maybe had been added to by R and D but perhaps it was just a clean and overhaul. I will do some more detective work on this! Many thanks for your response, I will post more info if people are interested in this l think overlooked builder.

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Hello Will

 

I remember the Gilmorton organ, having last played it in the late 70s when we lived in Lutterworth. If it's in a poor way now, it wasn't much better mechanically then. Porritt's organs sem to just go on and on, and as I recall this one is totally unaltered apart from the addition of the choir organ. On the few occasions I played it I was quite impressed, even then thinking how good it could be if restored. From what you say it doesn't sound as if anything has been done to it.

 

The only other Porritt I played was Bitteswell, small 2 manual with no Swell - Pedal coupler for some reason. Also, the NPOR survey gives the pedal compass as C-f, but my recollection is that it was c compass, two octaves (I nearly fell off going for a top d that wasn't there!). Did the firm do many slightly quirky organs like that? Hard to imagine quite why!!!

 

R

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Hello Will

 

I remember the Gilmorton organ, having last played it in the late 70s when we lived in Lutterworth. If it's in a poor way now, it wasn't much better mechanically then. Porritt's organs sem to just go on and on, and as I recall this one is totally unaltered apart from the addition of the choir organ. On the few occasions I played it I was quite impressed, even then thinking how good it could be if restored. From what you say it doesn't sound as if anything has been done to it.

 

The only other Porritt I played was Bitteswell, small 2 manual with no Swell - Pedal coupler for some reason. Also, the NPOR survey gives the pedal compass as C-f, but my recollection is that it was c compass, two octaves (I nearly fell off going for a top d that wasn't there!). Did the firm do many slightly quirky organs like that? Hard to imagine quite why!!!

 

R

 

Yes Ron the choir organ was added by Porritts at a later date. I think when first added it was the top manual then Porritts came back and rebuilt the action to have the manuals in the usual order. The pipework although about the dirtiest l have ever seen still speaks well and the flutes are very fine. The reeds are very erattic in speech but would be fine after a carefull clean. Indeed when l was last there, their tuner had disconected the great and choir reeds because they would not stay in tune!! I have told the church wardens what a fine and historic organ it is but as always l think it is at the bottom of the list.

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Hello Will

 

I remember the Gilmorton organ, having last played it in the late 70s when we lived in Lutterworth. If it's in a poor way now, it wasn't much better mechanically then. Porritt's organs sem to just go on and on, and as I recall this one is totally unaltered apart from the addition of the choir organ. On the few occasions I played it I was quite impressed, even then thinking how good it could be if restored. From what you say it doesn't sound as if anything has been done to it.

 

The only other Porritt I played was Bitteswell, small 2 manual with no Swell - Pedal coupler for some reason. Also, the NPOR survey gives the pedal compass as C-f, but my recollection is that it was c compass, two octaves (I nearly fell off going for a top d that wasn't there!). Did the firm do many slightly quirky organs like that? Hard to imagine quite why!!!

 

R

 

Hi

 

The lack of Sw-Ped might be an indication that the organ has/had a Tenor-C Swell.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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I went to have a brief look at the Chipping Norton instrument this morning as some light relief after having my mouth rearranged by the dentist over the road!

 

St Mary's in Chipping Norton is embarking on a reordering - leaflet here (PDF). The leaflet mentions "provision of additional storage in this area (made possible by the recent removal of a now redundant pipe organ)". There is also an artist's impression showing the pipework retained but with the console removed to give space for a new room.

 

In fact the organ is still very much in situ. The console is, however, obscured by a pile of materials and its case firmly locked shut, so I didn't get to see much. Clearly it has not been played for many years.

 

A photocopied sheet dated November 2009 (well, it actually says November 2007 with the 7 crossed out and replaced by a 9 :huh: ) says: "We have received permission for the internal pipework of the unviable Porritt pipe organ to be taken away by Peter Collins, organ builders (for use in repairing Porritt organs elsewhere) and some of the pipes have already been packed for transportation."

 

The current instrument in use is an electronic of fairly antique vintage (I played it once several years ago and don't remember being particularly enamoured of it). The church certainly has "worship band" services but I'm not honestly sure what provides the music at the main Sunday morning services.

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Hi

 

The lack of Sw-Ped might be an indication that the organ has/had a Tenor-C Swell.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

The swell is C compass. I suppose it could have started as a TC department, but if they went to the trouble of adding a bass octave, you'd have thought they'd add a coupler as well. It always puzzled me when I used to play it, but nobody seemed to know much about it! Not much changed then. It was a good solid village organ, don't know if it's in use nowadays.

R

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Having talked to a few people about this topic I have been told that if l put together details on Porritt, I then have to do the same for Taylors!! Could be a big project :huh:

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Very fine beasts the Taylors are too, though generally confined to churches in and around Leicester. Musically what they might lack in being unashamedly products of the turn of the 19th century they gain in being virtually indestructible workhorses which just keep on going, unlike many electric action or especially electronic organs and are just the job for a church that doesn't "have the money to spend keeping the organ going". Whilst I haven't had the pleasure of playing their ecclesiastical magnum opus at St peter's Leicester, their superb concert organ at the de Montfort Hall received a much-deserved and highly praised restoration to glory a few years back.

 

That, and St Peter's, and a few other larger instruments are, if not unique, at least unusual, in having tiny, and (IMHO) rather hard-to-read miniture drawstops in a row across the top manual or even across the stop jambs. Why oh why?

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That, and St Peter's, and a few other larger instruments are, if not unique, at least unusual, in having tiny, and (IMHO) rather hard-to-read miniture drawstops in a row across the top manual or even across the stop jambs. Why oh why?

Yes, I noticed that on the NPOR photographs of St Peter's. Looks decidedly impractical!

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N04512

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I've come across one or two Taylors in my time. Fine instruments - solidly built and nice sounding. De Montford Hall (?) has Taylor's flagship instrument in it - a pretty mighty 3 manual organ. I think Paul Hale did a recording of it on Priory - warmly recommended. This organ also has the miniature stops, which is a bit of Taylor hallmark. I've never played one with this arrangement, but those that have tell me they're not much of an issue in practice - in fact, the arrangement works well.

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Two possibilities come to mind when considering a possible rationale behind Taylor's unorthodox consoles:-

 

1. They were a marketing strategy to make the instruments appear 'cutting edge' in mechanical terms.

2. They were an attempt to ensure that maintenance and refurbishment contracts remained with the company, as other builders might be wary of working with non-standard components.

 

Thoughts, anyone?

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Talking of Taylors, I hear that the De Montford hall organ has sufferd due to the heat. An allen toaster had to be used for Carlo Curlys recital earlier this week :huh:

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Yes, I noticed that on the NPOR photographs of St Peter's. Looks decidedly impractical!

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N04512

 

Lutterworth (Gern 1885, Taylor 1950-ish) had/has these small stops. I was organist in the late 70s and these were never a problem, you very soon got used to them. The pistons were adjustable by lifting the console lid and moving a setter, they also had double touch which was very useful for both the manual and pedal pistons had it. I've no idea how much Taylors altered it, the spec didn't change much although I'm certain the reeds had been revoiced, especially the Great reed which was labelled Tromba and was certainly voiced as one. But a convincing organ too. I last played it about 7 years ago when there was talk of a rebuild. Wonder if that happened?

 

R

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Greetings William Northmore

 

I did not come upon your posting about Porritt organs until just now (30/07/10). Nor did I realise that Porritt had built so many instruments in his time. I grew up living two doors away from a Methodist Chapel in Martock, Somerset, that had a relatively fine three manual 'Porritt of Leicester'. I have a black and white photograph of this instrument taken in 1956. It is as a JPEG file and is easily mailed to you if you want a copy. Send me your address. The chapel became redundant in 1980 and was sold for building development. The organ was sold for £400 and awaits re-assembly. I could pass you the address of the new owner.

 

Good wishes David Rogers verdi6@talktalk.net

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