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Greetings O Wise Ones.

 

I am researching an organ and I need a little help. My friend Google offers no information whatsoever, and the NPOR is not particularly forthcoming; in fact it is extremely user unfriendly.

 

The organ in question is the 3M/P Hele of the Devonport Dockyard church of St Lo, which I believe no longer exists.

That in itself raises a question. Was the church destroyed in the Plymouth blitz, or was it just the existing organ that was destroyed.

The NPOR entry http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N10449 is dated 1957 and states that the organ was 'transferred elsewhere'.

Was this organ built to replace the organ lost in the blitz? When was St Lo demolished?

This 3M/P was reputed transferred to the Methodist Church in Chapel Street, Tavistock.

 

The Russell Street Methodist church in Tavistock, of which I was a member and part time organist from around 1960-61, was in the throes at that time, of being amalgamated with the Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Chapel Street church being the ultimate meeting place.

 

At that time a 'new' organ was being built by a Rodney Pearce of Saltash, Cornwall, for the Chapel Street church, and I assumed, at the time, that the existing Dicker organ was being rebuilt and a few 'bells and whistles' added.

What we ended up with was a 2M/P with a detached stop key console of some 30 speaking stops (on paper) a lot of which were 'prepared for', which I played for the inaugural (dedication) service.

What happened to this organ in years to come I do not know, but I was told that it had 'fallen to pieces'.

 

Some time in the 1990s the St Lo organ replaced the Pearce organ (dates??); the 32' Sub Bass on the Pedal organ was replaced with a 16' Violone.

Now, the church archivist tells me that the organ was built in 1957 (was it really?) and had been kept in storage for over 30 years at great cost. He's not really an organ man.

 

As you can see I am totally bewildered as to the whose?, whys? and whens? of the above.

Someone on this forum must know something as I have been lurking for several years now and I suspect that one or two of you come from this part of the country (SW).

 

Thank you in advance.

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The Devonport Dockyard church of St Lo (or St Loe) was indeed "damaged" in the blitz of 1941 and subsequently demolished. There is a page on it here: http://www.plymouthdata.info/Churches-Angl...rd%20Chapel.htm.

 

What I don't know (not being a Janner) is when the demolition took place. The NPOR record for Tavistock's Chapel Street Methodist implies that it was still standing in 1957, which I guess is not impossible. The Hele organ listed in the NPOR record must be the same one that was blitzed along with the church. If it was moved to Tavistock then presumably it cannot have been a total write-off.

 

I'm afraid I can't add anything more about this, but I will PM you with a couple of contacts who would almost certainly be able to provide more information.

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Bingo! I've just discovered this in the Christmas 1981 journal of the Plymouth & District Organists' Association:

 

Visit to the Church of St. Lo, in the Royal Naval Dockyard, Devonport - 9th November, 1981

 

Just over 20 members and friends visited the Devonport Dockyard Church for the Association's November meeting. The original Dockyard Church at Devonport was built in 1700 in which is now South Yard, and took its name from George St. Lo who at that time was today's equivalent of the Port Admiral. The Church was destroyed by fire about 100 years later and then the re-built Church was finally destroyed by enemy action on 21st April, 1941, although the Church Hall in South Yard was in use as a chapel until 1957. The present Church building in North Yard was originally the Kelly College Mission of St. Chad, and by 1956 had been incorporated within the Dockyard, through the extension of its boundaries. The Mission was restored and re-dedicated on 7th June, 1957 as St. Lo's Church. In the present building can be seen the Dedication Stone of the old South Yard Church, which has been preserved as a most interesting link with the past.

 

The 3 manual and pedal pipe organ by Hele and Company Limited was constructed from the organs in the South Yard Chapel and in St. James the Great Church, and some new pipes also were added. The instrument has 22 speaking stops from some of which others can be derived making a total of 46 stops, and the organ has 1,526 pipes. In 1975 work was undertaken by Messrs. Osmond's to improve the organ lay-out and deal with the antiquated action. This work included moving the Great Organ forward to improve accessibility for tuning, re-siting a row of metal pipes to make the Swell Organ more accessible, providing a new Swell-board and a larger rectifier, installing additional Swell relays, and modifying the keyboard pressure.

 

[The report then goes on to list music played by association members. Elsewhere in the issue there is a specification photocopied from some printed source (Musical Opinion?) which agrees with the NPOR record of 1957.]

 

-----------------------------------

 

The second (1921) edition of the Dictionary of Organs and Organists, published by Geo. Aug. Mate & Son, has the following entry on page 200: "Devonport - H.M. Dockyard Church. - Rebuilt 1890 by Hele. 3 manuals, 28 sp. stops, 6 couplers. Organist: G. Bollard."

 

So a 28-stop, three-manual Hele organ was lost during the war and the Hele listed on NPOR is the reconstructed organ for the later church of St Lo in North Yard.

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You, Sir, are a star. I have also looked through the P & D Organists 'magazine' but just like the Dockyard Church web page, I missed this one as well. I really must clean my glasses!

 

In fact, in the same source, (2001 ed.) the St Lo organ is reported as being bombed; this is recorded as the lll/P so this is where the confusion lies.

 

There are still some more anomolies with this organ which I am trying to resolve: why is there an 'Oboe 8' reversible thumb piston when there is no Oboe on the organ, and why is there a 'Double Touch Cancel' stop tab, a mechanism usually found on the cinema organ. There is no mention of this in the original spec.

 

Never mind, this is what makes it so interesting and to have an interaction with a nation-wide knowledge bank is something else. Truly inspiring.

 

As soon as I can get more information I will post again.

 

Many thanks :D

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Glad to be of help! :D

 

Regarding the 'Oboe 8' thumb piston, it is interesting that both the NPOR spec and the printed spec in the PDOA journal list the Swell Contra Fagotto 16' as having 70 pipes for a 58-note keyboard. I don't see any clue in the specs as to where the extra 12 pipes are deployed, so I wonder whether a Swell Oboe has been accidentally omitted from the spec.

 

There is a reasonable chance that the answer to this may lie buried somewhere in the 19th-century editions of the Western Morning News (of which there are microfilms in the Plymouth Central Library) since these often have articles on new Hele organs including the complete specifications. However, without a date to go on, looking for it would be real needle-in-haystack stuff! I believe all the old Hele records are now with Christopher Gray of Midland Organ, Hele & Co Ltd and a query in that direction might be an easier option.

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Greetings O Wise Ones.

 

I am researching an organ and I need a little help. My friend Google offers no information whatsoever, and the NPOR is not particularly forthcoming; in fact it is extremely user unfriendly.

 

The organ in question is the 3M/P Hele of the Devonport Dockyard church of St Lo, which I believe no longer exists.

That in itself raises a question. Was the church destroyed in the Plymouth blitz, or was it just the existing organ that was destroyed.

The NPOR entry http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N10449 is dated 1957 and states that the organ was 'transferred elsewhere'.

Was this organ built to replace the organ lost in the blitz? When was St Lo demolished?

This 3M/P was reputed transferred to the Methodist Church in Chapel Street, Tavistock.

 

The Russell Street Methodist church in Tavistock, of which I was a member and part time organist from around 1960-61, was in the throes at that time, of being amalgamated with the Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Chapel Street church being the ultimate meeting place.

 

At that time a 'new' organ was being built by a Rodney Pearce of Saltash, Cornwall, for the Chapel Street church, and I assumed, at the time, that the existing Dicker organ was being rebuilt and a few 'bells and whistles' added.

What we ended up with was a 2M/P with a detached stop key console of some 30 speaking stops (on paper) a lot of which were 'prepared for', which I played for the inaugural (dedication) service.

What happened to this organ in years to come I do not know, but I was told that it had 'fallen to pieces'.

 

Some time in the 1990s the St Lo organ replaced the Pearce organ (dates??); the 32' Sub Bass on the Pedal organ was replaced with a 16' Violone.

Now, the church archivist tells me that the organ was built in 1957 (was it really?) and had been kept in storage for over 30 years at great cost. He's not really an organ man.

 

As you can see I am totally bewildered as to the whose?, whys? and whens? of the above.

Someone on this forum must know something as I have been lurking for several years now and I suspect that one or two of you come from this part of the country (SW).

 

Thank you in advance.

 

Hi

 

The NPOR entries are the only information that we have! Maybe when you've finished your research you'd like to e-mail a copy of your findings, with documentary sources noted, to the NPOR office so that we can add the relevant information. The dates would be on NPOR if someone had bothered to tell us them - likewise building designations, etc.

 

Every Blessing

 

Rev Tony Newnham

NPOR Editor

(one of a small team of volunteers)

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  • 3 months later...
Greetings O Wise Ones.

 

I am researching an organ and I need a little help. My friend Google offers no information whatsoever, and the NPOR is not particularly forthcoming; in fact it is extremely user unfriendly.

 

The organ in question is the 3M/P Hele of the Devonport Dockyard church of St Lo, which I believe no longer exists.

That in itself raises a question. Was the church destroyed in the Plymouth blitz, or was it just the existing organ that was destroyed.

The NPOR entry http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N10449 is dated 1957 and states that the organ was 'transferred elsewhere'.

Was this organ built to replace the organ lost in the blitz? When was St Lo demolished?

This 3M/P was reputed transferred to the Methodist Church in Chapel Street, Tavistock.

 

The Russell Street Methodist church in Tavistock, of which I was a member and part time organist from around 1960-61, was in the throes at that time, of being amalgamated with the Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Chapel Street church being the ultimate meeting place.

 

At that time a 'new' organ was being built by a Rodney Pearce of Saltash, Cornwall, for the Chapel Street church, and I assumed, at the time, that the existing Dicker organ was being rebuilt and a few 'bells and whistles' added.

What we ended up with was a 2M/P with a detached stop key console of some 30 speaking stops (on paper) a lot of which were 'prepared for', which I played for the inaugural (dedication) service.

What happened to this organ in years to come I do not know, but I was told that it had 'fallen to pieces'.

 

Some time in the 1990s the St Lo organ replaced the Pearce organ (dates??); the 32' Sub Bass on the Pedal organ was replaced with a 16' Violone.

Now, the church archivist tells me that the organ was built in 1957 (was it really?) and had been kept in storage for over 30 years at great cost. He's not really an organ man.

 

As you can see I am totally bewildered as to the whose?, whys? and whens? of the above.

Someone on this forum must know something as I have been lurking for several years now and I suspect that one or two of you come from this part of the country (SW).

 

Thank you in advance.

 

 

Thought I'd better update this thread.

 

After consulting with Maurice Eglinton (Hele), Phillip Liddicoat (ex organist of St Andrew's,

Plymouth) and Lance Foy (present keeper, if I may use the term, of the Tavistock Methodist

Church organ), I have discovered the chronology of the organ of the Dockyard Church of St Lo,

Plymouth .

 

In 1941 the St Lo church was bombed and the organ (lll/P Hele) destroyed. Church was

demolished.

 

The 'church' moved out of the Dockyard to St Chad's, Devonport.

 

In 1957 the 'church' moved back into the Dockyard where a SECOND building was dedicated to

St Lo.

 

A new lll/P organ was built by Hele for this church c1958. This is the organ detailed in the NPOR.

 

This is the organ that was subsequently sold to Tavistock Methodist Church around 1987 when

the St Lo church was finally made redundant. The organ was stored on MOD property at Saltash in Cornwall before being rebuilt at Tavistock c1992/3

 

However, the spec. of this organ in the NOPR is not the same as the present organ, rather it (NPOR) is probably the original proposed spec. as drawn up by Hele and Co.

 

The Pedal organ never had a 32' Sub Bass stop (Maurice Eglinton confirms this). It is now a 16'

Violone.

The Choir organ was reduced by 3 stops (Open Diapason 8', Principal 4', Tromba 8'); there is a

reversible thumb piston labelled 'Oboe 8' which lies below the Great manual, that draws the

Contra Fagotto 16', Unison Off and Super Octave couplers, a 'Second Touch Cancel' stop key,

and a Division labelled 'Unenclosed' containing the following stops - Open Diapason 8', Principal

4', Tromba 8' and Octave Tromba 4'.

 

Indeed, when looking at the pipework which is in a gallery behind the altar, there does appear to

be a Diapason and a Reed visible.

There is only one expression pedal.

 

Unfortunately there was something taking place in the church at the time and I never got to try it

out, just got to confirm the spec and note the changes.

Lance Foy confirms extensive borrowing and extensions which I believe; in fact, looking at the

stoplist, could one think anything different?

 

Many thanks to all who assisted me, in particular 'Vox Humana' who PM'd me on several

occasions.

 

Thank you all

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Unfortunately there was something taking place in the church at the time and I never got to try it

out, just got to confirm the spec and note the changes.

Lance Foy confirms extensive borrowing and extensions which I believe; in fact, looking at the

stoplist, could one think anything different?

 

I played this instrument in 1995 while at school in the town. At the time the building was heavily carpeted with resulting total lack of reverb, and the instrument struggled to produce musical results. Somewhere I have a recording of Kodaly's Laudes Organi done in this church at the time with the local choral society, which disappoints on so many levels...

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