Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Unsung Organs


David Drinkell
 Share

Recommended Posts

The four manual Binns organ at St. Mary's, Shrewsbury was mentioned elsewhere. I think it's an instrument that deserves to be better known. What other instruments would we consider are unsung heros?

 

I'd kick off with the 1901 Norman & Beard in Colchester Town Hall (my home town). It's a very imposing building in the baroque style by John Belcher and the organ is at one end of the Moot Hall in a good case designed by the architect. It is relatively small - three manuals and 29 speaking stops (two pedal reeds prepared) - but it sounds much bigger. Consider this for a 1901 Great Organ:

 

Double Open Diapason, Grand Open Diapason, Claribel Harmonic Flute, Octave, Hohl Flute, Fifteenth Mixture (15.19.22.26), Posaune, Clarion

 

There are Sub Octave Reeds couplers on Great and Swell (plus Swell Octave and Choir Sub)

 

No duplication, no fancy stuff, just a big, straightforward chorus. Interestingly, it was ordered during the short period that T.C. Lewis was working for N&B. This may explain the big,bold choruses.

 

Apart from positivising of the Choir Organ and replacing of the Swell Harmonic Gemshorn 2' with a Fifteenth in the seventies, it is virtually unaltered and still has its original pneumatic action. Unfortunately, it has deteriorated in recent years to a state where a complete restoration is essential. There is a 'Friends of the Moot Hall Organ' group which is actively pursuing Lottery Funding and other funds, and I was invited by its instigator go along last time I was home. I was lucky - nearly everything was working. I hadn't heard it for over thirty years and I was blown away by how fine it was.

 

Dr. William McVicker is consultant for the restoration, so things are in safe hands.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apart from a couple of us on here this one deserves to be better known as does its next door neighbour (nearly) here. The first is a really exciting manifestation of the 'rumblings' going on in the 50s and 60s at the hands of Downes etc. though using (good) older pipework by a builder who was just a bit of a maveric encouraged by an incumbent who also played the organ. The second is one of the neatest solutions I have come across. The seemingly rather odd the spec. works amazingly and the 4 composition pedals are set up to facilitate this. A study in the art of registration combining hand and pedal. Check out here for more on the second organ.

 

A

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is a splendid organ at Christ Church, Sowerby Bridge, nr.Halifax in West Yorkshire, built by a largely amateur team from various bits and pieces.

 

The end result is extraordinarily successful, and you can even listen to it here and read about the project:-.

 

http://www.hdoa.org.uk/organs/organ.php?id=8

 

 

MM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apart form a couple of us on here this one deserves to be better known as does its next door neighbour (nearly) here. The first is a really exciting manifestation of the 'rumblings' going on in the 50s and 60s at the hands of Downes etc. though using (good) older pipework by a builder who was just a bit of a maveric encouraged by an incumbent who also played the organ. The second is one of the neatest solutions I have come across. The seemingly rather odd the spec. works amazingly and the 4 composition pedals are set up to facilitate this. A study in the art of registration combining hand and pedal. Check out here for more on the second organ.

 

A

 

I have played both instruments - the larger of the pair on many occasions. It is exciting - although it is somewhat top-heavy. The G.O. Open and Stopped Diapasons are comparatively gentle and do not really support the excellent four-rank Mixture entirely adequately. Added to this, the Pedal Organ has a prominent bass range, with a good 32ft. Bourdon (down to GGGG, the lowest seven notes being obtained by the 16ft. and the fourth below), a pungent Principalbass (wood, with roller bridges) and a thinnsh (but very loud) French Bombarde.

 

I probably should not say this here, but I would exchange the Swell Twelfth for a Vox Angelica (tuned sharp) in a heartbeat.

 

Interestingly, aside from the fact that this was almost certainly the first organ in Cornwall to have general pistons (two), the Pedal and Swell foot pistons do not duplicate the thumb pistons so, a few years ago, I suggested a scheme of changes (the original settings were slightly odd), which gave a better build-up on each department (the Pedal and Great divisions are permanently coupled as far as the combination system is concerned. Now, for example, the Great pistons give (in effect) combinations 1 - 3 - 5 and the Pedal pistons give 2 - 4 - 6.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wondered, on seeing AJJ's post, if it was Kilkhampton! I know Roger Yates's rebuild at the Parish Church and it is indeed a superb piece of work.

 

Another Yates which comes to mind is Bozeat Parish Church, Northamptonshire, a quite amazing production for 1939:

 

Great: Open Diapason, Gedackt (Ch), Salicional (Ch), Octave, Mixture 15.19.22

Choir (enclosed): Gedackt, Salicional, Flote 4, Superoctave, Sesquialtera 12.17

Pedal: SubBass, Flotenbass 8, Nachthorn 4

Choir Tremulant

C/G 16.8

G/P, C/P

 

The organ is elevated at the west end of the north aisle in a good case to a design suggested by Andrew Freeman and played from a stop-key console in the chancel.

 

Willis III used similar methods of duplication in his 'Model' organs (a fairly late one, slightly bigger than basic, is at Stowmarket United Reformed Church, Suffolk, NPOR H00685, and also deserves a mention here), but Bozeat is tonally much more advanced than anything Willis was doing at the time, or perhaps ever.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://www.duresme.org.uk/NEorgans/auckcas.htm

 

Have a look at this...

 

I don't know whether this one has been mentioned here before, but it definitely should be better known even though it is far from original!

 

Father Smith 1688, and I think all the original stops bar one, a 4' flute which was replaced by a Cornet/Sesquialtera at some point probably in the 18th Century.

 

Harrisons did a typical 'restoration' of the time in 1903. (Didn't the Vicorians always like to think they could improve everything!!) They retained only the Father Smith stops, added a swell and pedal16' and made it standard compass (loosing the father smith bass pipes along the way. :-(

 

This little instrument is rather lovely actually. It's a curious match of styles, but it seems to work rather well. I got to play it a few years ago for a service and it seemed in good order then. A gentle sound, but the acoustic is lively and it's just so interesting. You climb a huge great metal spiral staircase to get to it, sitting high on the west wall. At the console the 'Great' has black keys and white sharps and the father smith ebony, square stop knobs remain on the right jamb. On the left there are Harrison stop knobs, and the swell has the standard white keys and black sharps. No attempt to match things up - but quite the contrary (sorry I don't have a picture. The case still survives an looks beautiful.

 

Perhaps Cynic might some day be persuaded to do a County Durham Benchmarks CD. (If he hasn't already done so... I can't keep up) It would be a lovely one to go on it. Despite there being few organs of note in County Durham, there are some interesting survivals due to almost no money being available for big rebuilds in the area for a long time.

 

There's also a lovely and quite large 3 man 1861 Brindly at the village of Gainford with a very big Schultz like sound... very rare and there's only been the occasional recital. http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N13278

 

A 3 man TH Harrison 1868 in Darlington at Holy Trinity...http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N04191 though I've never played this one. Also I'd love to see the Lewis / Harrison organ at Sunderland Minster http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N04223

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Willis III used similar methods of duplication in his 'Model' organs (a fairly late one, slightly bigger than basic, is at Stowmarket United Reformed Church, Suffolk, NPOR H00685, and also deserves a mention here), but Bozeat is tonally much more advanced than anything Willis was doing at the time, or perhaps ever.

 

H00695 - I just tried to have a look and found it wasn't quite right.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Could this have been based on the Kilkhampton organ?

 

http://cdmnet.org/Julian/muse/m004.htm

 

 

I like that - it could be fun.

 

There has been the occasional mention of Brindley elsewhere. Kilmore Cathedral, Co. Cavan, has a remarkable 1860 job by him. The building itself dates from the nineteenth century, replacing an earlier structure which is now used as a hall. I imagine the organ was roughly contemporary with the new church.

 

Great: Double Diapason (st.), Open Diapason, Rohr Flute, Gamba (gr. to Open), Principal, Twelfth & Fifteenth II, Mixture IV, Trumpet

Swell: Violin Diapason, Gedact, Octave, Mixture II, Cornopean, Oboe

Choir: Lieblich Gedact, Dulciana, Gemshorn, Flute, Clarinet (tenor F)

Pedal: Bourdon, Bass Flute

 

Swell to Great

Great to Pedal

 

3 comps to Great

2 comps to Swell

 

Compass: 56/30

Swell stops terminate at tenor C, below which the keys are coupled to the Choir

 

As far as I know, the only alterations are a balanced swell pedal (on the right) and a radiating concave pedalboard, both dating from 1861.

 

The organ is in the north transept, facing west. The case is a massive, fortress-like structure with three flats of equal-length wooden dummies(6-9-6) over the console and two facing south, all under a castellated pediment. The console doors swing open on massive brass hinges. Inside, all pipes are planted chromatically.

 

Tonally, the roar of the Great chorus is almost frightening - very Schulzian. The other departments are not as lively, but they do a lot more than murmur discreetly.

 

There are a number of interesting jobs in Ireland, dating from the time when the Church of Ireland had money, or rich patronage, and left unaltered because that patronage faded away. The 1896 Conacher at Kildare Cathedral is another example - rather larger than Kilmore but not unlike it in many ways. Both would have made excellent examples for David Wickens' article on Schulzian influence in the current BIOS Journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like that - it could be fun.

 

There has been the occasional mention of Brindley elsewhere. Kilmore Cathedral, Co. Cavan, has a remarkable 1860 job by him. The building itself dates from the nineteenth century, replacing an earlier structure which is now used as a hall. I imagine the organ was roughly contemporary with the new church.

 

Great: Double Diapason (st.), Open Diapason, Rohr Flute, Gamba (gr. to Open), Principal, Twelfth & Fifteenth II, Mixture IV, Trumpet

Swell: Violin Diapason, Gedact, Octave, Mixture II, Cornopean, Oboe

Choir: Lieblich Gedact, Dulciana, Gemshorn, Flute, Clarinet (tenor F)

Pedal: Bourdon, Bass Flute

 

Swell to Great

Great to Pedal

 

3 comps to Great

2 comps to Swell

 

Compass: 56/30

Swell stops terminate at tenor C, below which the keys are coupled to the Choir

 

As far as I know, the only alterations are a balanced swell pedal (on the right) and a radiating concave pedalboard, both dating from 1861.

 

The organ is in the north transept, facing west. The case is a massive, fortress-like structure with three flats of equal-length wooden dummies(6-9-6) over the console and two facing south, all under a castellated pediment. The console doors swing open on massive brass hinges. Inside, all pipes are planted chromatically.

 

Tonally, the roar of the Great chorus is almost frightening - very Schulzian. The other departments are not as lively, but they do a lot more than murmur discreetly.

 

There are a number of interesting jobs in Ireland, dating from the time when the Church of Ireland had money, or rich patronage, and left unaltered because that patronage faded away. The 1896 Conacher at Kildare Cathedral is another example - rather larger than Kilmore but not unlike it in many ways. Both would have made excellent examples for David Wickens' article on Schulzian influence in the current BIOS Journal.

 

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

 

 

It wasn't just Schulze-like, it was probably Schulze......Karl Shulze who remained in the UK to work with Brindley, who had himself worked with Schulze in Paulinzelle prior to setting up business in Sheffield.

 

You will therefore understand my distress in 1970, when I learned that the greatest example from this brilliant period had been destroyed, at Centenary Methodist church, Dewsbury.

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N07841

 

It was a huge chapel, and the Great chorus was almost a copy of the one at Armley. I believe the Cornet V drew both the Grave and Sharp Mixtures of the Great, but I was only 15 when I used to go and hold the keys for tuning, and it didn't immediately register at the time.

 

It was easily one of the best choruses I've ever heard, and rang around the chapel like nothing else could....marvellous.

 

As for other departments being smaller in sound, this was the German way at that time, and typical of the terraced dynamic style. At Dewsbury, the choir organ was buried beneath the Swell box, and sounded very distant, but this was no different to the Echo organ at Armley.

 

It was just the organ for Rheinberger and Reubke, but definitely not Reger, for example.

 

My hope is that the very few remaining early Brindley instruments, (prior to his retirement from the firm), are appreciated for what they are and awarded whatever certificates are available by the BIOS.

 

I often wonder if Brindley didn't make te metal pipes for Schulze when he came to England, but I have no particular reason for saying that and I may be completely wrong.....just a hunch.

 

MM

 

MM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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

 

 

My hope is that the very few remaining early Brindley instruments, (prior to his retirement from the firm), are appreciated for what they are and awarded whatever certificates are available by the BIOS.

 

 

MM

 

MM

 

Hear, hear!

 

This is the sort of thing BIOS certificates are really for!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...