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Nuneaton Abbey

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I saw something recently (on Facebook I think) which featured a little on the organ of Nuneaton Abbey (I didn't even know there was an Abbey in Nuneaton!). It appears to be a four-manual with a very ugly console and "case" at the West End. I can't find anything on NPOR.

Does anyone have any information about this instrument?

Best wishes

Richard

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The Abbey church of St. Mary the Virgin

 

from their website:

 

http://www.stmarysnuneaton.org/home

 

ORGAN - URGENT APPEAL
It has been apparent for a while that our organ has major problems. We asked Cousans organ builders to survey and suggest what could be done. Their assessment concluded that: to put the instrument in good working order would cost £80,000 plus vat. Minor repairs would cost £20,000 plus vat. And just to keep it limping along in the short term would cost £5,000 plus vat. The PCC explored alternatives and discovered that we could purchase an excellent quality brand new all singing all dancing digital instrument for around £20,000 installed. We were left a generous legacy towards this but we are still £5,000 + short. We will have to start an appeal and on Epiphany Sunday (5th Jan) we are be having a Gift Day.

.

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YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loeBBzIaOFA

 

Console from 4:01 to 4:11. I’m sure someone here can identify the peculiar style of the console.

 

Console and pedal pipes with apparent totally enclosed case from 7:32 to 7:36.

 

A gorgeous edifice (the building).

 

It looks like a former draw-stop console which has been altered to incorporate the type of stop tabs which were used by Osmonds and rocking tablets of the kind favoured by the makers of some cheap electronic substitutes.To be honest, if this is the case, I am not sure why anyone should wish to do this. As you say, it is very ugly. Mounting stop tabs on vertical, concave jambs seems pointless to me. I cannot imagine that it offers any improvement in the way of convenience to the player.

 

However, the case, jamb panels, keys, pistons and key frames (and also the pedal-board and the pedal 'sweep') look to be of good quality workmanship, if the photographs are reasonably true to life.

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If the console is of otherwise decent quality then no doubt someone will soon be bidding for it on Ebay and for a few hundred pounds will be able to snap it up and install MIDI and run a very respectable virtual organ from it. Meanwhile if the church is looking to only spend £20k on an electronic organ I dread to think what one that is "all singing, all dancing" will sound like, given past experience of supposedly top end instruments.

 

GIven the spacious looking balcony, was there not a single redundant organ in working order that could have been acquired via the BIOS list?

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This is not a forum for discussing electronic organs and I respect that, but I hope I will be permitted to add my two cents worth in the hope that it might persuade those entrusted with procuring a new instrument to look again at a pipe organ, possibly redundant or otherwise second hand as Contrabombarde suggested.

 

If the financial ceiling is £20K, they might like to ensure they are satisfied with the standard of the console they will get, and the number and quality of loudspeakers which will be installed. This is because it is these items which dominate the price of a digital organ. Many 'top of the range' electronics cost very much more than this, and there are good reasons for it.

 

Reverting to redundant pipe organs, I know of more than one instance where the total installed cost was in the region of £10K for a very satisfactory instrument indeed. If I have interpreted the brief information in the above post correctly, it implies that the church has about £15K already. Therefore I would urge that they spend a little of it now to retain the services of an organ adviser (such as one from the AIOA) to make sure they have left no stone unturned if they do finally opt for an electronic. It would also assist their application for a Faculty as well if that has not been done already.

 

CEP

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A worthwhile thought from Colin indeed methinks. It strikes me as somewhat ironic that for no more than a few thousand pounds some could could rip the guts out of the existing console, rig up some high quality secondhand speakers, connect to a laptop running Hauptwerk and the sound could potentially be way better than that of a new off-the-shelf electronic organ costing several times as much. I know of people who would be more than capable of rising to the challenge. But in a large ecclesiastical building with presumably fine acoustics and a budget that would extend to a modest reconditioned pipe organ transplant, why go for the mediocre, rather than the Rolls-Royce - or even the much cheap DIY virtual organ, which surely can't be any worse than the existing instrument and would probably sound quite a lot better than even a new electronic organ?

 

Having personally built, for a very modest sum using mainly timber from B&Q and bits and pieces off Ebay, a very substantial four manual virtual house organ, I can see plenty of logic in at least rescuing the existing console, and for home practice and learning new repertoire it has made a huge difference to my technique. But for church use where there is any possibility and budget of rehousing a real organ, why not do so?

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I emailed Cousans and asked them if they had the specification of this instrument, unfortunately they did not have one but told me that it's unlikely they will be going there again as the tunings have been cancelled. If anyone has details of this instrument I would be interested to see them.

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Those of us who are on Facebook no doubt will have read the fairly lengthy comments about this organ and church by the relevant DOA. I think they say it all. As he is also a member of this forum it is entirely up to him whether he wishes to repeat those comments here.

 

Malcolm

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Very interesting to read these comments, especially as we have just spent ten days at Nuneaton removing the organ! As I haven't been here for a bit I hadn't seen the thread.

 

However, to answer a few questions and in no particular order.

 

The old console was not of high quality and was certainly not a converted drawstop console. I advised complete scrapping, the electrics were old and failing and the console itself was made of poor quality veneer that at 40 years old looked twice its age in real life, even if not so bad in photos.

 

The organ was specified as a four manual, but never completed. Being Pedal, Great, Swell, Choir (not installed), Solo (partly installed) and a Choir Pedal (not installed). I will in due course send a specification to NPOR, as planned and as completed.

 

The pipework and the main chests are secondhand, with much of the pipework being of very high quality. The rest was added new, and did a good job for a while.

 

I saw the organ first last year when I agreed to buy it, and then we removed it between April 20 and April 29 this year, up scaffolding, as it was on the gallery with absolutely no access. The scaffolding was a God-send as was the electric winch, there would have been no other way of getting the organ down. I have posted photos of the removal on my facebook account. https://www.facebook.com/jonathan.lane.756/media_set?set=a.10152932595363717.1073741851.576728716&type=3

 

The organ ceased to work in 2014 due to a fire in one of the blowers. This was why Cousans tuning contract would have been cancelled.

 

The church is lovely, and the people fantastic. Fr Mark, the church wardens and helpers from the church were most hospitable and very keen to make our task as comfortable as possible. We were there on a Sunday, and consequently, we were invited to sing with the choir. The people were lovely. There was an article in the Nuneaton News, which was a full page and good coverage of the story, although I must say, there was no way I used the word 'quite' quite so often!! http://www.nuneaton-news.co.uk/Churchgoers-bid-farewell-organ/story-26375319-detail/story.html

 

It is sad in some ways that the organ has been lost, but it was a mongrel and nothing special, so of no historical interest. the electronic replacement is more than adequate for their needs, however, I would always urge to repair or replace with a pipe organ if at all possible.

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