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Incomplete Hunter organs?

Robert Bowles

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This is a discussion board, not part of ebay or freecycle, but I hope our host will not mind if I ask for suggestions as to how to find a good home for various ranks of Hunter pipes, a 6 rank soundboard and two reservoirs. Alfred Hunter and Son often installed instruments with parts "prepared for", so I think there may be people out there with incomplete instruments who could be interested. Hunter didn't always leave out the same things.


I am not a dealer - these are just the left over parts of a redundant Hunter which I bought to complete the instrument at my church. That was a fairly extreme example of preparing for things - a three manual instrument which had 10 ranks missing and no choir soundboard, box or reservoir. Apart from a 16ft pedal trombone and 16ft Swell Contra Fagotto all the missing bits are now installed, so we have marked ourselves 8/10. The result has transformed our instrument, and I'd like to help someone else do the same.


We'd really like to score 10/10, so we are still hunting for the missing reeds. Any suggestions on that front? Anything we install has to be Hunter to satisfy an understandable condition applied by the Heritage Lottery Fund, who grant-aided the restoration of the incomplete instrument. If we use "any old pipes" (however distinguished the source) they will want their money back.

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There is a magnificent incomplete Hunter organ in St Paul's church, West Street, Brighton. There is a four manual console with a strange selection of Solo manual drawstops in situ but there has never been any room for any of the pipework to be installed. Apart from that, speaking from memory, there is a 2 rank Sesquialtra and a 4' clarion missing from the Great and two or three pedal ranks missing. The bottom five (stopped) pipes of the pedal 32' have always been in situ but never connected up.


What is there makes a superb sound - especially the magnificent full Swell. The problem is that openings were made in the bell tower to accommodate the organ, weakening the tower, and the sound tends to go up into the tower rather than out into the church. Various "prepared for" stops were added in the mid to late 1960s and the Pedal Trombone was added in the early 1970s when I was Director of Music there. We were fortunate (in this context!) of having a very musical Vicar who knew what he wanted and, being extreme Anglo Catholic, made jolly sure he got it. The action has seriously deteriorated over the years and is now somewhat unreliable. Over the past few months the organ has got flooded with rain water coming through the tower (a perennial problem) and there was a fire in the church just before Christmas which left a lot of smoke damage. Insurance money is enabling some work to be done as part of restoration work on the whole building.


Another, complete, Hunter organ of a similar vintage but more romantic specification is the three manual in St Andrew's Worthing, which I sometimes play for funerals &c., That boasts two independent Tuba ranks on the choir and endless celeste stops. It was renovated, with new action, by Comptons, in the early 1960s. There again, it has a superb Full Swell, which is directly above the sedilla in the sanctuary and can cause either fright or headaches to the Sacred Ministers at High Mass. A friend of mine - himself a well known recitalist and CD artist - tells me that his father (long deceased) said that the only reeds he had ever heard which were better than those on the Worthing Hunter organ were those on the Vowles organ in the church where he was a choirboy and where our friend Patrick Coleman is now Vicar.


There are other hunter organs in Lewes and Eastbourne.



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