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Simon Walker

Lewis pneumatic action

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The name you are looking for is E A Cawston and I think the work was described as finishing the organ as the initial voicing had been done in a hurry!!!!!

They waited nine years, so it couldn't have been that bad!

 

The organ has been cleaned recently by a firm whose name escapes me but I think is somewhere around Harrogate or Huddersfield.

PJW

Wood

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From the 'before' pictures it looks like it has another 30 years in it yet!

Respectfully, it most certainly did not. The pipes were filthy and the keyboards completely worn out. The latter have been replaced.

 

Best wishes

 

Ian

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Respectfully, it most certainly did not. The pipes were filthy and the keyboards completely worn out. The latter have been replaced.

 

Best wishes

 

Ian

 

Fair dos. I thought it had only been done over in about 1994 but perhaps that was only a superficial job.

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Fair dos. I thought it had only been done over in about 1994 but perhaps that was only a superficial job.

Well I was there in 1994 and don't recall any rebuild... however, at some point (NPOR says 1984), Tony Cawston did do some work on the Pedal reed and perhaps some light dusting. I love the organ very much, but playing a full choral Mass is a nightmare with no playing aids whatsoever. I did get quotes for adding pistons (either replacing the stop action with electric or adding solenoids to the mechanical stop action) but it all proved too expensive for the Cathedral's meagre resources. The organ was seldom in tune in the winter months either, due to the 'fast start' facility on the hot air heating system, which caused stratification and condensation.

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Reading through the thread - forgetting about Lewis for a moment - I wonder if the principal object of dislike about Rieger organs in particular and imported ones in general is the chorus reeds.

 

I don't know CCC Oxford except from YouTube (which seems to bear out my suspicions), but I knew Clifton well of old, and St. Giles, Edinburgh pretty well from shortly after it went in. (At different stages in my life, I was warmly welcomed by Herrick Bunney, first to the Willis - which I liked - and much later to the Rieger, which I also liked). At Clifton, the reeds fit in with the German neo-classicism of the whole scheme. At St. Giles, which is in other ways gorgeously equipped for choral accompaniment and Romantic music, I have been struck several times by what seemed to be an incongruity in the chorus reeds. Apart from that, I can't fault the job tonally, it looks fabulous, and the workmanship appears to be second to none.

 

I think Josef von Glatter-Gotz will go down in history as one of the great organ builders - and a nice guy.

 

How about the other imports? I wasn't terribly impressed with Tonbridge School. The Marcussen at the Borgundkyrke, Alesund, Norway is one of the most beautful modern instruments I have met, but it's not an essay in a style which may have seemed novel to the builders.

 

What's Bath Abbey like? I only knew the HN&B organ. An organ builder friend of mine, who now lives and works in Wiltshire, said that the Klais Great Open was like No.1 of about four voiced by Herbert Norman. He reckoned all the German builders had a secret craving to voice a really big diapason. That's just an anecdote - what are the reeds like? General opinion seems to be that they got it right . And what's Marlborough College like?

 

Getting back to Lewis pneumatics - I believe that St. John's, Upper Norwood, was built with an electric action whch was later changed to pneumatic and proved a disaster - far too much distance in the tubes - until Henry Willis III electrified it in the thirties. A very fine organ indeed - and all credit to our hosts for getting it going again after the War, when others had condemned it.

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What's Bath Abbey like? I only knew the HN&B organ. An organ builder friend of mine, who now lives and works in Wiltshire, said that the Klais Great Open was like No.1 of about four voiced by Herbert Norman. He reckoned all the German builders had a secret craving to voice a really big diapason. That's just an anecdote - what are the reeds like? General opinion seems to be that they got it right . And what's Marlborough College like?

 

I presume you mean John Budgen, formerly of Suffolk?

 

A very great deal of the Bath Abbey voicing was left untouched. An organ builder friend of mine who also lives and works in Wiltshire voiced a lot of the new stuff in 1974 as the culmination of his apprenticeship - in particular, the former Gemshorn 8 and Blockflute 4 of the Great, and what there was of the Positive.

 

Marlborough College is quite a mixed bag. The beautifully made bits are beautifully made, but there are a few little irritations like a phenomenally slow Solo Clarinet (it's a free reed and simply hopeless) and a fairly soft Tuba. I personally dislike the very brassy voicing of the Swell reeds, and the Great diapason chorus - if asked to name that stop, you'd say Harmonic Flutes. The large Mixture on the Great is among the finest I have heard anywhere and makes the whole of the rest of the chorus work superbly well.

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What's Bath Abbey like? I only knew the HN&B organ. An organ builder friend of mine, who now lives and works in Wiltshire, said that the Klais Great Open was like No.1 of about four voiced by Herbert Norman. He reckoned all the German builders had a secret craving to voice a really big diapason. That's just an anecdote - what are the reeds like? General opinion seems to be that they got it right . And what's Marlborough College like?

 

The manual chorus reeds at Bath are unchanged from when HN&B left it and a mighty fine set of reeds they are too. Would totally disagree about the Gt Open. It doesn't bear any tonal resemblance to anything Herbert Norman would have produced. It's exactly right for the building, anything bigger would be big, and anything smaller would be small.

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Reading through the thread - forgetting about Lewis for a moment - I wonder if the principal object of dislike about Rieger organs in particular and imported ones in general is the chorus reeds.

Speaking personally, yes, though I don't find the ones at Christchurch Town Hall, NZ at all objectionable (I know the organ only from CD). I have found much the same thing, though to a less objectionable extent, on later Klais organs and I rather suspect that thinnish, brassy reeds are a consistent modern German characteristic, especially where there is a French-inspired Schwellwerk - see also Hecklephone's comment below.

 

Marlborough College is quite a mixed bag. The beautifully made bits are beautifully made, but there are a few little irritations like a phenomenally slow Solo Clarinet (it's a free reed and simply hopeless) and a fairly soft Tuba. I personally dislike the very brassy voicing of the Swell reeds, and the Great diapason chorus - if asked to name that stop, you'd say Harmonic Flutes. The large Mixture on the Great is among the finest I have heard anywhere and makes the whole of the rest of the chorus work superbly well.

Marlborough College does what it says on the tin, is nice to play and I'd be happy to have it as my daily instrument, but I do find it all a bit bland. The Tuba is obviously voiced to fit into full organ as an optional extra and does so extremely well without swamping anything. The downside is that it isn't really loud enough. I can't say that the main diapason chorus made me think of Harmonic Flutes, but the Great Principal Celeste is another matter. Ian Crabbe was concerned that the chorus should sound warm and this, as I understand it, is why the second diapason is an undulating stop. On top of that, it is surely no diapason at all but a typical German-style (i.e. fluty) Gemshorn.

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I presume you mean John Budgen, formerly of Suffolk?

 

 

Yup! The remark about the Great Open was a good example of a Budgenism, although I note Porthead's assessment of it.

 

Both Bath and Marlborough were particular favourites of John Norman, I believe. I've never been in Marlborough College, but I thought the last HNB Bath rebuild came out rather well. (That's not to say that it didn't need doing again by the time Klais came on the scene).

 

I've just remembered that the first organ LP I ever bought was Dudley Holroyd at Bath, made before the last HNB rebuild. I think it included the Finale of Vierne I and Daquin's Noel X (probably BWV 565 too). Something had to go when I moved here, and it was my LP collection, so I can't be sure.

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

 

 

 

I do have the Walter & Thomas Lewis book entitled "Modern organ-building" which covers pneumatic-actions in some depth. I have a vague recollection that they were related to T C Lewis.

 

They weren't.

 

 

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

 

In one post, Pierre Lauwers mentioned that they were related to T C Lewis, but prior to that, I thought that they were not.

 

Do we know for definite?

 

Apart from the book, I know absolutely nothing about Walter and Thomas Lewis.

 

MM

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

 

In one post, Pierre Lauwers mentioned that they were related to T C Lewis, but prior to that, I thought that they were not.

 

Do we know for definite?

 

Apart from the book, I know absolutely nothing about Walter and Thomas Lewis.

 

MM

 

The preface in the book is "signed" Walter & Thomas Lewis, Bristol. Hence they are probably the two characters listed in DBOB:_

LEWIS Thomas William

Floruit: 1900-1940D

Located: Liverpool; Bristol

Trade: ob

see also LEWIS [bRISTOL] - firm

 

Addresses used by this firm

Address From To

10 Trinity Str, Bristol [birthplace] 1863

10 Tyndall Ave, Bristol 1881

8 Princes Place, Clifton, Bristol 1887

Santley Str, Brixton, London 1890

121 Rupert Str, Norwich 1891

20 Kimberley Str, Norwich 1894

11 Spottiswoode Rd, Edinburgh 1902

55 Bishop Rd, Redland, Bristol 1909

11 Byron Pl, Clifton, Bristol [residence] 1926D 1942

 

References for the information above

 

Musical Standard 1900 /11, No.1893

Organs in Edinburgh: D.A.Stewart [1991]

BOA corres Carnill, Yvonne (granddaughter), e.g. 5.9.2000

BIOS J24 (2000): Carnill-Lewis, Yvonne, '... Thomas William Lewis 1863-1942: Organ-builder and Author'

 

Cross references for this firm

 

Lewis, T.C. - worked for (1890)

 

Norman & Beard - worked for (1892-1903; Liverpool rep in 1900)

 

Scovell, Charles Percy - partner with (1903-1909)

 

Vowles, W.G. - trained with (poss apprentice 1875-82)

 

LEWIS Walter

Located: Bristol

Trade: ob

 

Addresses used by this firm

Address From To

11 Byron Place, Clifton, Bristol 1942< 1950

 

References for the information above

 

BOA corres Carnill, Yvonne (granddaughter), e.g. 5.9.2000

BIOS J24 (2000): Carnill-Lewis, Yvonne, '... Thomas William Lewis 1863-1942: Organ-builder and Author'

 

Cross references for this firm

 

Lewis, Thomas William - son of & successor to

 

Hence there IS a link between Thomas (William) Lewis and T.C. Lewis (the firm) and with T.C. Lewis himself between 1890 & 1892 TC left Lewis & Co (the London firm) in 1901.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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W&T Lewis seem to have been a respectable, but unspectacular local firm, although their association with Scovell in Edinburgh is somewhat odd for a firm based in Bristol. Their 'show organ' was St. Ambrose, East Bristol, a big church with good acoustics. The organ sounds very fine, although this may owe something to a slight amount of pepping-up over the years (Fifteenth on Swell, Mixture on Great, Swell Oboe to 16').

 

Scovell & Lewis rebuilt Henbury PC, Bristol in 1907. This is of interest to me because I was organist there as a student 1976-78. By then it had been rebuilt and enlarged by Percy Daniel. NPOR says the Clevedon Organ Group has added two stops - does anyone know what they are?

 

The W&T Lewis book had more influence than the actual organs. The Swell Rohr Flute at Colchester Moot Hall apparently follows the recipe they gave (T.C Lewis was working for Norman & Beard when this organ was built, and one can see features which might reflect his influence, but the Rohr Flute is after W&T Lewis. It gets confusing, because they mention T.C. Lewis too!).

 

Any debate on Lewis seems incomplete without the late Eduard Robbins, who collected a vast amount of information, was famously crusty about disseminating it and had a prose style verging on the Rococo. If Harry Coles were still alive, he would have had a great deal to say, too.

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[

 

Thank you very much Tony and David for the information concerning W & T Lewis. The fact that there is a connection with T C Lewis is of interest, but of course, Norman & Beard were very good at pneumatic actions....hence the importance of the Lewis book and the considerable detail into which it goes. I suppose nowadays, it is something of a reference "Bible" to an almost forgotten art, but our kind hosts have certainly restored pneumatic actions in the recent past, as have others.

 

The only mystery which remains, is whether their Great Diapasons spoke with an "Aaaah" or an "Aaaarh." :)

 

 

MM

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The only mystery which remains, is whether their Great Diapasons spoke with an "Aaaah" or an "Aaaarh." :)

 

 

Loving your humour MM !! :-)

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