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Simon Walker

Organ Mistakes: The Shortest living organs

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Forgive me for being "picky", but I don't see how 1869 to 1887 makes 28 years.

 

Pick away! A finger slippage and should be 18 years which of course makes three completely different organs in that time all the more remarkable!

 

F-W

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According to NPOR, Romsey Abbey had 4 significant "attentions" paid to it in twenty years. In addition, the Nave section was bolted on another 4 years later. How much money was wasted here?

 

It's still pretty rubbish for accompanying a full church......

 

Well, in 1974 the most drastic tonal work was done, and IMHO most unsuccessfully - there was all manner of industrial unrest going on at the time, which strained the relationship.

 

The 1982 work was largely down to the demands of the incumbent organist who wanted a Tuba. At the time some 1888 changes were reversed, in that the sharp Mixture became sharp again (ridiculously, it had since 1888 duplicated the III rank) and the second 4' Flute reverted to its original home at 2 2/3.

 

The 1992 work shouldn't really be listed, since it was a very simple matter of some releathering and reversing the 1982 pressure increase on the Barker machine - pressures had been set very high, again in response to the demands of the organist who thought it was too unresponsive. It was more of an emergency repair than scheduled work so I'm surprised it's listed, except to support a certain amount of unfounded local antagonism towards the firm who did the 1982 work (which, curiously, prevails to this day, despite some of it being in my view the best work ever done on this organ).

 

1996 was the major overhaul, completed in 1997, and plans were already underway for the Nave organ. That it wasn't completed until a year later owes much to the health of the late Andrew Pennells, whose last job this was.

 

I suggest that if you divide the total sums spent on these four occasions by the 152 years since the organ's completion you will find the costs very reasonable.

 

And - red rag to a bull - there is absolutely nothing wrong with the organ's ability to accompany congregations. A normal Sunday morning gets 500+ and at times like Christmas and Royal visits it is usually around the 2000 mark - and it copes just fine. It is far more present at the back of the nave than either Salisbury or Winchester. It just requires a certain sensitivity to how it sounds down the building. If you play in a very rhythmic way, and accept that legato playing is something for just one voice in the music and not every voice, then believe me there is little that instrument cannot do, from verse anthems to the very spikiest Britten and Walton.

 

[On edit: just so you know, I'm not exactly 'on song' with what was done, and how it was done, either. How it got a BIOS certificate I'll never know.]

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Anyone know why Holmer Church gave up the organ and whether any replacement has been installed or is planned? Herefordshire isn't exactly blessed with many fine instruments as it is!

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Anyone know why Holmer Church gave up the organ and whether any replacement has been installed or is planned? Herefordshire isn't exactly blessed with many fine instruments as it is!

 

 

Because they could.

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Because they could.

 

This is not so far off the mark actually.

 

We maintained this organ from 1953 as HW&S and it was in the hands of Ingram (whom we 'absorbed' at about that time) for 30 years before that.

 

Interesting instrument with a spectacular case (as we see from its appearance in the (too small) gallery of its new home. Originally two manual Bevington, all mechanical, built for Puddleston Court; 1905 Hill Choir organ added with pneumatic action - the C-side of the choir to the left of the organ and the #-side to the right; removed from Puddleston Court and into St. Bartholomew's, Holmer in 1934. HW&S overhauled it in 1960.

 

We have provided estimates for the straightforward cleaning and selective re-leathering of this organ for over 30 years, approximately every six years, on request but nothing more ever carried out. Notwithstanding, the organ performed perfectly well, with no soundboard problems or action problems other than occasional burst motors or purses. The last time an 'estimate' was requested, three were sought: we stated that only that work required to be done should be done (cleaning, repairs to pipework and re-leathering of the pneumatics).

 

However, the two other quotes were for "Restoration" and therefore much higher. Restoration was not required as the organ had little, if anything, wrong with it. We were told to submit a further quote for 'Full Restoration' but said this was not required and therefore did not quote for this.

 

Our tuner in Hereford had already been informed that the organist of the church had stated a preference for an electronic substitute but we genuinely believed that common sense and the fact that this instrument was such a visual part of the church would prevail over personal preference of a transient body! Not so.

 

The higher quotations for the restoration of the organ were obviously used as a convenient means of persuading the Parish to take a cheaper option (note, cheaper, not less-expensive) and depressingly a faculty was granted for the removal of the organ.

 

Unfortunately, this get worse: the faculty granted for the installation of the organ in its new home allowed for electrification and so the damage is complete as authorised by the Diocesan Advisory Committee and its organs adviser.

 

A shame, and shameful I'm afraid, in several directions.

 

DW

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Guest Cynic
snip

 

Unfortunately, this get worse: the faculty granted for the installation of the organ in its new home allowed for electrification and so the damage is complete as authorised by the Diocesan Advisory Committee and its organs adviser.

 

A shame, and shameful I'm afraid, in several directions.

 

DW

 

 

I think it appropriate to add at this point that the Diocesan Organ Adviser for Hay-on-Wye was (and probably still is) the vicar himself, Revd. Richard Williams who holds an LTCL organ performers diploma.

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I think it appropriate to add at this point that the Diocesan Organ Adviser for Hay-on-Wye was (and probably still is) the vicar himself, Revd. Richard Williams who holds an LTCL organ performers diploma.

 

In which case, I'm reliably informed, the correct protocol is that there should be an 'independent' adviser called in to advise the DAC where the DOA is directly involved with the job.

 

DW

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Guest Patrick Coleman

It may help to put this issue in context if I add a reminder of the treatment of another organ within the Swansea & Brecon diocese, removed allegedly with Faculty permission.

 

Here

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I think it appropriate to add at this point that the Diocesan Organ Adviser for Hay-on-Wye was (and probably still is) the vicar himself, Revd. Richard Williams who holds an LTCL organ performers diploma.

 

The publication "The Organbuilder" used to have a Directory of Denominational Organ Advisors which included The Church in Wales. The Institute of British Organ Building who publish the excellent Organ Building year book which took over from The Organbuilder no longer include this within their pages but have chosen to publish the list as a part of their website (along with the list of redundant organs). Sadly there are no entries at all for The Church in Wales.

 

PJW

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Guest Patrick Coleman

You don't surprise me.

 

Having said all this, the Monmouth DAC does have an organ adviser (not me - I hasten to add: I wouldn't consider myself qualified)

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Bradford Cathedral were very good at wasting money until recently. The Nave Organ was just that; a separate organ playable from the main console, with a nice low pressure chamade and a Pedal stop or two. It wasn't that it no longer served a function in a difficult acoustic, because they still have an electronic substitute there, but a rather nice H,N & B Nave Organ, with a modern and very attractive case, was simply removed because the four stilts on which it stood got in the way of exhibitions and presentations.

 

All this (and a lot more), brought the cathedral to near financial ruin, with a burden of considerable debt and nothing to show for it.

 

I haven't checked when the Nave Organ was discarded, (probably around 2000 or so), but as it only went in during the 1960's, the shelf-life was distinctly limited. 35 years or so sounds about right.

 

MM

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Bradford Cathedral were very good at wasting money until recently. The Nave Organ was just that; a separate organ playable from the main console, with a nice low pressure chamade and a Pedal stop or two. It wasn't that it no longer served a function in a difficult acoustic, because they still have an electronic substitute there, but a rather nice H,N & B Nave Organ, with a modern and very attractive case, was simply removed because the four stilts on which it stood got in the way of exhibitions and presentations.

 

All this (and a lot more), brought the cathedral to near financial ruin, with a burden of considerable debt and nothing to show for it.

 

I haven't checked when the Nave Organ was discarded, (probably around 2000 or so), but as it only went in during the 1960's, the shelf-life was distinctly limited. 35 years or so sounds about right.

 

MM

 

You would not believe the laziness, the incompetence and the general uselessness of the Diocese of Bradford and its officials when we were trying to extract a redundant organ from them before someone burnt it down or stole all the metal pipework. It's hardly a surprise that they are now pretty well bankrupt.

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You would not believe the laziness, the incompetence and the general uselessness of the Diocese of Bradford and its officials when we were trying to extract a redundant organ from them before someone burnt it down or stole all the metal pipework. It's hardly a surprise that they are now pretty well bankrupt.

 

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

 

Oh! Yes I would........... :unsure:

 

MM

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The post-war organ in the church of St. Nikolai in Kiel, where I was assistant for a while, put up from a Laukhuff kit and finally finished in 1964, was dismantled one day after its dedication.

 

Beat that.

 

Best

Barry

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It could never be deemed a mistake, but this rather lovely Speechley was thrown out after only 12 years when one of the Singer family (of sewing machine fame) had it replaced with a bigger and louder instrument in a spectacular west-gallery case fit to rival many in the Netherlands and Germany. Fortunately the Speechley lives on elsewhere, though it is very asthmatic and unwell and is currently under threat along with the church.

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I can't remember whether Norwich Cathedral has been mentioned already in this thread, but if not I suppose it part-qualifies as the old organ burned down in 1938, and a substantial part of the new organ was destroyed in the factory during air raids (therefore before the organ was finished or even in situ).

 

However, there was another organ in Norwich which was also very unlucky. St Mary's Baptist church in Duke Street had a fairly substantial 3 manual built by Norman Brothers in 1886 with work done in 1914, 1922 and 1933. Like the Cathedral organ, this too was destroyed by fire in 1939. Despite the war, work went ahead with a replacement which was completed by February 1941. Like its predecessor, this was a substantial 3 manual organ. It was destroyed 3 years later in an air raid. In 1952 a new smaller 2 manual organ was built (using some of the pipework from the old echo organ in the Cathedral which escaped the fire in 1938). Then, in 1951, when a new church was built, the organ was transferred and enlarged to a 3 manual (by HNB), and there I guess it remains today.

 

I have never seen this instrument, but plucked the above detail from a great little book called "The Organs of Norwich" by Ralph Bootman, which is an excellent gazeteer of probably every organ which exists or existed within the city.

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It came from Holmer Church in Herefordshire; see http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/mid/sites/hay/p...gtonorgan.shtml

The NPOR info is here (including the fact that the manuals had mechanical action):

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N13047

PJW

 

I played that Bevington when it was still at Holmer, and it was a splendid sight on the west end gallery! The purpose of my visit was to rectify some voicing issues on its digital successor. I'm glad to see it has found a new home!

 

CP

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I played that Bevington when it was still at Holmer, and it was a splendid sight on the west end gallery! The purpose of my visit was to rectify some voicing issues on its digital successor. I'm glad to see it has found a new home!

 

CP

There will be an article about this instrument and its removal to Hay on Wye in a future issue of O.R.

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There will be an article about this instrument and its removal to Hay on Wye in a future issue of O.R.

Thank you for alerting us to this. I will be interested to see what the article records about issues surrounding the issue of the faculty and the change of action. Much is made about its Bevington pedegree (for 2 of the 3 manuals anyway) but as this instrument has had several homes I wonder how the house organ now sounds in its new home.

PJW

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Thank you for alerting us to this. I will be interested to see what the article records about issues surrounding the issue of the faculty and the change of action. Much is made about its Bevington pedegree (for 2 of the 3 manuals anyway) but as this instrument has had several homes I wonder how the house organ now sounds in its new home.

PJW

 

There is an interesting bit in the latest BIOS Reporter where the Casework officer states that this is one of the 'worst instances' he has encountered - he goes on to talk about a '60s style electrification' and that the organ has been 'comprehensively divested of it's character and originality.' It seems as if responsible people have been involved but all the same........Has anyone seen/heard/played it yet?

 

A

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There will be an article about this instrument and its removal to Hay on Wye in a future issue of O.R.

 

Now with added electronic stops as well (not something mentioned in the article).

PJW

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Now with added electronic stops as well (not something mentioned in the article).

PJW

 

I wonder why - on both counts?

 

A

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