Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Statement by Nicholson & Co.

Andrew Moyes

Recommended Posts

Since Paul Derrett (‘Cynic’) was allowed back on the Mander discussion group, he has resumed his attacks on Nicholson & Co. Although Nicholson may not have been mentioned by name, they are thinly veiled so the firm can easily be identified. For example, he brought our Malvern Priory rebuild into the thread on Shrewsbury Abbey. Everything he said about the Malvern Priory organ was factually incorrect. I quote: -


Cynic - Shrewsbury Abbey - Post #22


Nobody can question that this is the right time to reconstruct the organ, but I would urge those responsible to keep most of it rather than go down what might be termed ‘the Malvern Priory route’ where every single chest was discarded along with all the wind system. The bulk of the huge cost went on new chests and actions...here there is nothing inherently wrong with the existing soundboards that have worked well for so long!

In fact every chest and soundboard at Malvern is the original from 1927 and has been fully restored. There is not a single new chest in the organ. The same applies to the wind system which retains the original components; bellows have been releathered and even the concussions and tremulants are the originals. Nicholson is not at all averse to retaining good quality material. We have recently carried out historical restorations at St Mary’s Tottenham, Rye Parish Church and St Andrew’s Catford - the latter two being pneumatic restorations.


Cynic – Shrewsbury Abbey – Post #44


Some firm, no names no pack drill, will now replace soundboards and wind systems more-or-less regardless of what they find when they start to take an organ down. I suppose they would claim that this is cost effective. I personally deplore this attitude...


The reasons for Malvern’s complete re-arrangement were the need for a larger room to be created underneath and that fact that some pneumatics were impossible to maintain efficiently located in tight corners at the bottom of the organ. The down side of the latest work is, as anyone who knew the organ before will testify, the one stop that really succeeded before (The Solo Tuba) has been emasculated. You are welcome to come up with your own theories as to why this is now on the same soundboard as the remainder of the Solo organ, and therefore no longer in a prominent place.

The vestry underneath has not been enlarged. The Tuba is where it always has been; sharing a chest with the French Horn inside the Solo box. The Tuba has been enclosed in the Solo box since R&D rebuilt the organ in 1927. Nicholson resisted the temptation to relocate the Tuba on a new chest outside the box as Cynic advocates because this was a conservative rebuild.


Cynic then started a new thread to continue his assertions.


Cynic – Keep or discard? – Post #1


I recently posted an entry to the effect that at least one major UK firm seems to have a policy of discarding as much as possible each time they take an organ over...


Do you think such a firm, with such an attitude, would be asked to work on anything by any firm of which we have all heard! I think not.


When a good firm used to rebuild an instrument they used to take the existing chests as a basis for the work. These would be stripped down and refurbished...


I am not against the occasional re-arrangement of layout. H&H for instance, thought long and hard about moving the Choir division at St. Bartholomew’s, Armley...I am not against suggesting that a seriously uneconomic action should be repaired when a more up-to-date version (e.g. electric primaries) will give the same tone and greater longevity.

Cynic therefore unknowingly agrees with everything that Nicholson did at Malvern Priory. This was to electrify the extremely complex and unmaintainable primary action (retaining the original secondary pneumatics), move the deeply buried Swell organ to a position with the other manual divisions where it can be heard, and otherwise retain as much of the original material as possible.


On the thread regarding modern bellows type, Cynic says


Cynic - Modern wind systems - Post #22


As has been realised by most builders in Europe, but not by some of our native builders (I am purposely not naming the UK firm which almost always uses these in all types of organs) the sort of wind rock-steadiness can be extreme...

I guess this is a further reference to Nicholson. If so, may I point out that Nicholson works in both styles according to our customers’ preferences and the majority of our work is actually with traditional wind systems. We certainly do not advocate modern wind systems in all organs. Apart from the historical restorations and Malvern Priory organs already mentioned, the two most recent organs to leave the factory - for St Michael’s, Cornhill and St Barnabas, Ealing (G&D/Hill organ ex-St Jude’s, Southsea) - have both retained traditional wind systems despite needing modification to use smaller bellows. In the case of Cornhill, the traditional wind system had to be compacted to accommodate a new blower inside the organ. The old blower on the roof had been the cause of endless rainwater leakage that rotted the chamber roof. In the case of Ealing, the Hill organ is being transplanted from a rectangular chamber to a shallow case across the west gallery and the very large bellows could not be accommodated.


Colin Harvey has made reference to a paper I wrote in the IBO Organ Building magazine on calculating the size of reservoirs. I wish to point out that this is for traditional reservoirs, not wind regulators as seemed to be suggested in Colin’s post and Cynic’s following comment. It is true that in new, as opposed to historically informed, organs Guy Russell’s and my preference is for a modern wind system, where we are in the very good company of Messrs Klais, Rieger, Tickell and others who have done likewise. The latest example is at Llandaff Cathedral and I leave members to judge the result for themselves.


Cynic is perfectly entitled to voice his opinions and preferences but spreading false information and mis-representing others does a disservice to members. It must surely be unacceptable on this or any forum.


Andrew Moyes


Managing Director

Nicholson & Co.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Geoff McMahon

For the sake of clarity: it was at Mander Organs' suggestion that Andrew Moyes made this statement on the forum, and the whole text of this seed post was agreed beforehand with Mander Organs. Subsequent comments were removed because of their content and the unacceptable direction in which the discussion was heading, and the topic pinned.


Moderator, Mander Organs

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Create New...