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Redundant Organs


Guest Barry Oakley - voluntarily dereg
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Guest Barry Oakley

We don't seem to have unearthed much about new organs being constructed in the UK, apart from Worcester. I am particularly interested in redundant organs, not those listed on dedicated websites, but those that are languishing in churches (perhaps themselves redundant) because, although intact, they are now in an unplayable state. Just off the top I can think of a Brindley & Foster in a city-centre church in Hull, St Marys, Lowgate, reputed to contain Snetzler pipework, and a 3-manual Bishop in the parish church at Hoar Cross, Staffordshire. Also in Staffordshire, Stone's parish church, St Michael's, has a 2-manual instument of uncertain pedigree which has been largely unplayable for several years now and has sadly given way to an Allen.

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I can think of an almost untouched Walker which has been removed from a church in Winchester while the church is refurbished. There are no plans to restore this organ or return it to the church.

 

It's a cracking little organ, 12 stops over 2 mans & ped. almost untouched save for electric blowing apparatus and a balenced swell pedal (the trigger swell pedal now controls a tremulant). The voicing seems untouched since it was made in 1870. I played it for about a year and thought it was a little cracker.

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We don't seem to have unearthed much about new organs being constructed in the UK, apart from Worcester.

Reassuringly, there's actually quite a lot of new instruments being or about to be constructed in the UK before Worcester:

 

St Peters Church, St Albans (Mander, IIIP/39)

Cheltenham Ladies College (Tickell, IIIP/33)

St Mary the Less, Cambridge (Tickell, IIP/22)

Twyford Parish Church (Harrison, IIP/18)

St Mary's Metropolitan RC Cathedral, Edinburgh (Matthew Copley, IVP/62)

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Reassuringly, there's actually quite a lot of new instruments being or about to be constructed in the UK before Worcester:

 

St Peters Church, St Albans (Mander, IIIP/39)

 

Aha! Now that is interesting - I recall reading about the previous instrument in the history of the firm of Bishop and Son, by Laurence Elvin. The old organ, on paper, appeared to have somewhat more extension than I would personally wish to see on a scheme.

 

The new Mander stop-list looks good - I would be interested to know if any old pipe-work is being utilised. Whilst it is smaller (particularly with regard to the Pedal and Choir organs) than the previous instrument, the scheme appears to make more sense - even if it has lost a Tuba (not something I am likely to whimper about!) and a few other things.

 

I cannot decide from the drawing, whether the case is new, or a partial re-working of the old pipe-fronts.

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Guest Barry Oakley

Reassuringly, there's actually quite a lot of new instruments being or about to be constructed in the UK before Worcester:

 

Thanks, Jeremy, but my thread is really about redundant organs.

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Reassuringly, there's actually quite a lot of new instruments being or about to be constructed in the UK before Worcester:

 

St Peters Church, St Albans (Mander, IIIP/39)

 

Aha! Now that is interesting - I recall reading about the previous instrument in the history of the firm of Bishop and Son, by Laurence Elvin. The old organ, on paper, appeared to have somewhat more extension than I would personally wish to see on a scheme.

 

The new Mander stop-list looks good - I would be interested to know if any old pipe-work is being utilised. Whilst it is smaller (particularly with regard to the Pedal and Choir organs) than the previous instrument, the scheme appears to make more sense - even if it has lost a Tuba (not something I am likely to whimper about!) and a few other things.

 

I cannot decide from the drawing, whether the case is new, or a partial re-working of the old pipe-fronts.

 

It is all brand spanking new. The old organ was, frankly, rather unpleasant and largely constructed out of bits of other organs. Although the case gave the impression of being an old one it was only parts of one, patched together as a screen. (Bill Drake has taken the oldest parts of the case as material for future use in a 'period' instrument).

 

The new organ has two new case fronts. It looks glorious and sounds very good so far (the Great and Swell have been pretty well completed now). The standard of the workmanship and detail is outstanding.

 

I wouldn't fret about the Tuba. This new organ has an integrity the old one could never have, if perhaps a little on the large side.

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Mr. Oakley,

 

You may be interested in the following URLs (assuming that you do not already have a record of them):

 

http://www.rorcl.co.uk/

 

http://www.duresme.org.uk/BIOS/redundant.htm

 

Certainly, on the latter site, there is a large list of instruments needing new homes - some urgently.

 

I hope that this helps.

 

I also include the following URL, for interest alone, since it relates to those instruments in the U.S. needing new homes. I seem to recall Steve Bournias saying that there was not a culture of available redundant organs in the 'States. However....

 

http://www.organclearinghouse.com/

 

Regards,

 

pcnd

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Reassuringly, there's actually quite a lot of new instruments being or about to be constructed in the UK before Worcester:

 

St Peters Church, St Albans (Mander, IIIP/39)

Cheltenham Ladies College (Tickell, IIIP/33)

St Mary the Less, Cambridge (Tickell, IIP/22)

Twyford Parish Church (Harrison, IIP/18)

St Mary's Metropolitan RC Cathedral, Edinburgh (Matthew Copley, IVP/62)

 

Hi

 

And to add to the list (added to NPOR today) the following new or heavily rebuilt organs:-

Fromond's Chantry, Winchester College (Harrison) E01094

St. Columba, Blackhall, Edinburgh (Edmonstone) E01095

St. John, Barham, Kent (F.H. Browne) E01096

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Guest Barry Oakley
Mr. Oakley,

 

You may be interested in the following URLs (assuming that you do not already have a record of them):

 

http://www.rorcl.co.uk/

 

http://www.duresme.org.uk/BIOS/redundant.htm

 

Certainly, on the latter site, there is a large list of instruments needing new homes - some urgently.

 

I hope that this helps.

 

I also include the following URL, for interest alone, since it relates to those instruments in the U.S. needing new homes. I seem to recall Steve Bournias saying that there was not a culture of available redundant organs in the 'States. However....

 

http://www.organclearinghouse.com/

 

Regards,

 

pcnd

Thanks pcnd. I was already aware of these dedicated websites. But my curiosity prompting this topic was to try and ascertain to what extent do redundant UK organs exist that don't get listed on these dedicated sites.

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Guest Lee Blick

So what happens to these organs then if they don't end up as part of other organs or become a member of the redundant organs home? Do they just get thrown in the bin?

 

Perhaps they could be recycled or made into little mini-organs for residential use or small churches.

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I have recently been involved in acquiring one complete redundant two manual instrument and the pipe-work only from another. Neither appeared on any of the redundant organ sites. One was not even on the NPOR. The other had an NPOR entry which indicated it was likely the material had already been disposed of.

 

We found these on the grapevine, so to speak, after many years of seaching, in order to complete an Alfred Hunter and Son instrument dating from 1921 (when the firm was run by Robert Hunter) without destroying its integrity. This meant using authentic Hunter material - excellent material by other builders would not have done! Our requirements were therefore very specific - it had to be Hunter.

 

Using volunteer labour and working at a distance at (not every) weekend it took the best part of four months to dismatle and transport the two manual instrument. We could never have done it within the time-scales commonly appearing on ebay, and might not have managed it in our case if the church's re-development proposals had not been refused planning permission. Collecting the pipes from the other instrument which were stored in the vicarage garage roof was less of a challenge.

 

Hunter's work was to a very high standard, and when churches hadn't quite enough money, they regularly left things "prepared for" In our case the choir organ (intended as six ranks enclosed) consisted of a dulciana sitting on its own two little chests (unenclosed) on the floor at the back. There were big reeds missing elsewhere.

 

We have been very fortunate in getting 80 per cent of what is missing. But naturally they tended to always "prepare for" the more expensive ranks, not essential to supporting congregational singing. Thus I am still on the look out for a Hunter pedal trombone and swell contra fagotto....

 

One further observation - as far as the CofE is concerned - I am aware (because I am on one of the Diocesan Advisory Committees - but not as organ advisor) that DAC organ advisors are pro-active, and often enable instruments to be re-deployed well before the crane with the ball and chain is ordered.

 

To sum up, I suspect that a lot of good work in finding good homes for worthy instruments is going on without hitting the headlines. Given the reduction in number of places of worship with organs, it's inevitable that some instruments will be "broken up". So I think our scheme to use two to complete one (and perhaps produce a house organ from what's left) is a good one. I bet lots of others are doing the same thing.

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One further observation - as far as the CofE is concerned - I am aware (because I am on one of the Diocesan Advisory Committees - but not as organ advisor) that DAC organ advisors are pro-active, and often enable  instruments to be re-deployed well before the crane with the ball and chain is ordered.

 

Well, that certainly seems to be the case in the Diocese of Southwark. I can think of a few "transplants" here over the past few years - a fine Lewis moved from St Peter's Dulwich Common to St Augustine's Tooting, a small Walker moved from Battersea Fields to St Clement's Friern Road, and most recently a small instrument has found its way to St Stephen's Dulwich, although I don't have details of this to hand. If resources permit, then this surely has to be a better alternative than going for the electronic option? And there are bargains to be had - the redundant organ referred to in my previous posting was sold for £330! :P

 

Graham

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In a way this is heartening news.

 

Sad - because the instruments are no longer required in their original homes, but re-assuring because they are being given a new lease of life in another curch.

 

I would certainly agree that this is better than resorting to electronic substitutes. However, one or two contributors have told of their concerns when trying to re-locate organs regarding time-scales.

 

It would seem that there are many logistical problems: often the instrument has to be removed from its original home within a short period. Secondly, often the purchasing church needs to invest in costly storage, while waiting for a faculty to be granted.

 

Is there no way, in such cases, that a faculty could be fast-tracked, in order that the church do not lose out? After all, a mumber of DOAs have in the past (and quite rightly, I feel) complained about churches being too eager to choose an electronic substitute, rather than fully to investigate other options. However, if such situations which have been described are commonplace, then it is apparently quite difficult to meet time-sensitive conditions by all parties concerned.

 

Surely, in these circumstances, churches should be encouraged in their bids to save redundant instruments and every effort made to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible.

 

Whilst I realise that nothing is ever easy (well, not usually!) it seems to me that this is something for which to strive.

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Neither appeared on any of the redundant organ sites. One was not even on the NPOR. The other had an NPOR entry which indicated it was likely the material had already been disposed of.

 

I'd just like to clarify that my message was not intended to be critical of the NPOR. Their data base can be no better than the information which we send to it.

 

The organ which did not appear at all was in a Congregationalist church (yes, they didn't all join the URC) where they had not had a regular organist for many years, and it is understandable that they were not aware of the NPOR.

 

The other had an entry that "indicated it was likely that the material had already been disposed of". I think that whoever made that entry did so in good faith, having seen that the pipe organ had been removed from the church and been replaced by an electronic. The pipes were in fact in the roof of the vicar's garage - but that was not advertised!

 

I think the NPOR is an excellent thing.

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The organ which did not appear at all was in a Congregationalist church (yes, they didn't all join the URC) where they had not had a regular organist for many years, and it is understandable that they were not aware of the NPOR.

 

 

Hi

 

If I remember correctly, about 30% of Congregational Churches refused the merger with the Presbyterians. A very good friend of mine was President of the Conregational Federation a couple of years ago. There are still a fair number of organs that are not yet listed on NPOR - mainly in Free Churches of various denominations - there's plenty of Baptist ones missing as well!

 

We do our best with the information that we have - even when two correspondants contradict each other!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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One more new organ soon to be built (I am aware that it is on order) is an organ for the chapel of Wills Hall, University of Bristol.

 

I am not sure who is building this one but will post photos when the instrument is finished. In the meantime, does anyone know who is building this one?

 

Dave

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One more new organ soon to be built (I am aware that it is on order) is an organ for the chapel of Wills Hall, University of Bristol.
Dame Monica will be spinning in her grave. When she gave the money to build the chapel she expressly stipulated that no organ should be installed there (or at least that was the received wisdom as I heard it). Fabulous acoustics there for choral music, I remember.
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