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Peterborough Parish Church (St John the Baptist)


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I wanted to answer pcnd's query about this organ, but the topic has been locked, so:


pcnd wrote:

I notice (from the current issue of the Church Times) that a Director of Music and Organist is required for Saint John the Baptist, Peterborough. I further note (from the NPOR*) that this church possesses a 'vintage' Harrison organ, with its original stop-list largely intact. The only ranks missing are the Pedal Ophicleide, and the G.O. Harmonics (17-19-flat 21-22) and Octave Tromba. One minor alteration was the transposition of the former 8ft. Viole d'Orchestre on the Choir Organ to 4ft. pitch. There are a few colour photographs, two of which show the console, which looks to be quite dignified and largely unspoiled. However, I see that there is a note reading 'Specification superseded' near the top of the entry, so perhaps there have been some further alterations to this instrument.



It would be interesting to know whether any contributor has played this instrument and can give an idea of its current state (and stop-list).


As the outgoing organist I can give confirm that the NPOR specification is accurate: (http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N03444)

The list of current and previous organs is admittedly confused now – it was fine until CKea’s useful information was added in 2009.

The organ is a fine Harrison from 1917 and is tonally unaltered (with the tiny exception of the Choir 4ft string which was originally at 8ft pitch). Sadly in 1980, and with the best of intentions, the tubular pneumatic action was ripped out and replaced with a cheap and not very responsive action. Enough of the Harrison action remains for it to be converted to a proper electro-pneumatic action and there are plans to do this and renovate the instrument. Possibly also to install the prepared-for stops.

The more I play this organ, the more I love it. The Swell reeds are not as smooth as later H&H ones and are, I think, superb. The Great 8, 4, 2 chorus is excellent, but not really enough for a large church. The organ is great for English romantic music, of course, but also copes well with French, though it does need a pedal reed. It’s obviously less good for Baroque music, the pedal being the problem. The massive Open Wood is too big and the Geigen is too small (same rank as the Great 16ft). I tend to use Great and Swell coupled but a Great Mixture would allow the Swell to be kept independent and coupled down to provide a stronger and more clearly defined pedal line.

I will miss playing this instrument very much but have decided that, when I become an old-age pensioner in November, I will play the organ (Walker 1865) in the village where we now live.

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