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pcnd5584

The Lewis/Harrison Organ of Ripon Cathedral

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Two hours a day really isn't that much. Mine gets more use than that, and gives less trouble now than it did when I arrived and it hadn't been played much except on Sundays. Generally speaking, playing an organ is more likely to help it than wear it out. Comptons and Wurlis were expected to play for umpteen hours every day - and did, without problems. On the other hand, not many of them survived in use for long enough to need major restoration. A thorough clean every thirty years is only fir for any organ - a much-played instrument, or one in a grimy atmosphere, or one in a church where incense is used, might need more frequent attention, while building work can cause problems very quickly.

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You've answered the question I was going to ask.

 

Given the amounts of money involved and the frequency of attention I find it rather shocking.

 

 

Whilst even a modestly sized organ is physically many time larger and more complex than any other instrument, I do find myself wondering why organ “restoration” is such a regular and frighteningly expensive procedure.

 

I'm not “having a go” at John, or the Ripon organ, but I do find myself wondering about the quality of work that gets carried out and the sometimes astronomic price tags that go along with it.

 

I've never met an organ builder that drives a Bentley, but I do sometimes wonder whether they have one parked up at home!

 

You'll forgive me if I decline to be drawn into further discussion on the Ripon instrument: I've probably said more than I should anyway. Suffice it to say North Yorkshire folk are proud of this rather special instrument - a wonderful synthesis of Thomas Christopher Lewis and Arthur Harrison at their best - and are keen to see it preserved for posterity.

 

Thank you all for the interest you have shown to date. May I suggest that general debate on organ restorations moves to a separate thread?

 

JS

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You'll forgive me if I decline to be drawn into further discussion on the Ripon instrument: I've probably said more than I should anyway. Suffice it to say North Yorkshire folk are proud of this rather special instrument - a wonderful synthesis of Thomas Christopher Lewis and Arthur Harrison at their best - and are keen to see it preserved for posterity.

 

Thank you all for the interest you have shown to date. May I suggest that general debate on organ restorations moves to a separate thread?

 

JS

 

Thank you for this, John.

 

Having played it for services on a number of occasions, I would certainly agree that the Ripon organ is a very special and beautiful instrument. It is another organ which sounds intrinsically 'right' in its home - just like the old Worcester organ did.

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I've never met an organ builder that drives a Bentley, but I do sometimes wonder whether they have one parked up at home!

 

Photos from a workshop:

 

RR1.JPG

 

RR2.JPG

 

Paul

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As Paul has so kindly dragged ME into this :wacko: :

 

Please note that some of us had lives prior to entering organbuilding! In fact, far more lucrative lives - I've said several times publicly that I have never worked so hard for so little. I have always put more into this firm than I've ever taken out and please note Mr. Madorganist, these are MY motors, NOT the Company's!

 

I had my first 'proper' car when I was 17, unsurprisingly, given the pictures above, that was a Rolls-Royce. In those days one could acquire an elderly one for under £500 - which was of course still a lot of money then. My paternal Grandfather was a R-R engineer so I'd always been interested.

 

Also, more specifically regarding this particular thread: I was a Lay Clerk at Ripon from 1986 up to the early 90s (by then I drove a 1961 S2 Bentley) and I must say that I always found the Choir organ far too loud, in the Choir, so much so that it was rarely used for accompaniment of the Choir proper! The organ does its job there spectacularly well, but it could often sound particularly 'tubby' and not at all Lewis-like.

 

For those interested, the upper picture supplied by Paul is of a 1978 Silver Wraith, originally built for The Lord Inchcape: I used this car regularly from 1995 up to moving the firm up to Liverpool but the body now needs some restoration work which will bwe done over the coming winter; the lower picture is of my 1937 Phantom III which has a 7.4 litre V12 engine (currently out and being rebuilt, as a 75th Birthday Present) the body being a 'one-off' by H.J. Mulliner. I also have a 1956 Silver Cloud coachbuilt SC10, body by James Young - one of only 17 built, which I re-imported from the U.S. last year, where it had been since 1968.

 

As to the regularity and cost or work done to Cathedral organs - I think that you might find that most, if not all, of that is carried out by but a single firm these days and therefore nothing to do with us.

 

:ph34r:

 

DW

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I hope I haven't really caused any offence - I anonymised the pictures by blanking the number plates, and reckoned that anyone who could identify the works would already know about them. I think they are lovely cars, which is why I took the pictures!

 

Paul

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Don't worry Paul - no offence, I WAS joking!

 

I think my cars (and involvement with them) have been pretty much common knowledge for donkey's years, but there is of course always the temptation or proclivity for some to believe that these might be the result of overcharging! I think it is important to point out that they are mine, not the Company's - a different scenario of course if a one-man-band organ person were to have one, as a 'Company Car'!

 

DW

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Once again, thank you, John for the information which you have provided. I hope that the restoration work is successful.

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Likewise, I hope all goes well with the Ripon project - I recall some happy memories of a couple of Carlo Curley concerts there in the 1980's - his own pleasure in the instrument was communicated effortlessly to the hundreds gathered in the nave.

 

Being unashamedly self-indulgent here, and sadly never having had the privilege of trying the instrument, I've often speculated as to how useful a free-toned Trumpet might be on the Great, voiced on the flue pressure? I certainly wouldn't question the rationale for the proposed Harmonic Flute.

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