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Nicholson Chamber Organ, St Joseph's RC, Bunhill Row, London EC1

John Wilkins

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Would appreciate any information about this organ. It is not on the NPOR, at least not at this address. It is one manual with RCO pedalboard. The stop list is:


Stopped Bass 8', Stopped Flute 8', Principal 4', Dulciana 8', Mixture II rks, Conical Flute 2'. There are two pull-down pistons for the pedals, one, I think, takes the Duliciana down and the other the Stopped Flute. I suspect some of the upper stops could be extensions but I don't know.


I am told it was donated to the church in about 2001 by the Knights of Malta, but no one seems to know where it came from. I've contacted Nicholson's with a couple of photographs and received this response:


I have showed them to our MD and he recalls that they were made by Nicholson & Co in c1960 (the MD at the time was Stanley Lambert). There were two almost identical organs made and were referred to as the “Gainsborough case” (made to look older). One was made for a church near Evesham, Worcestershire (he can’t recall where the other one went to). However, he believes the church in Evesham has since closed and the organ would have been sold/destroyed. It may be possible that your organ is from that church and has been “transplanted”.


I've checked the NPOR for Evesham and can't find any reference to this organ, I'm intending to put it on the NPOR but was hoping that someone might have some more information. It is tuned by Manders.


Thanks in anticipation.

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Nicholson & Co (Worcester) Ltd had an exhibition organ at the IOF in St Alban's Abbey in 1973.

Stopped Flute bass 8

Stopped Flute 8

Principal 4

Conical Flute 2

Quartane 19-22


Polished Mahogany case with raised and fielded panels and spotted metal front pipes.

Laminate slide seals with individual windway seals. Ivory stop knobs and keyboard coverings.

Price £3,000 + Vat.


Provision is made for one additional stop to be fitted, so might this have been the above Dulciana when the organ was sold on?


From memory I am not sure the 'chamber organ' type case had a back or a top when exhibited and again from memory I think it was reported that Nicholson staff in the workshop were all off sick with some sort of disease linked to the working of a hardwood?


Edit. The above is on a typewritten sheet of A4 paper which was presumably Nicholson's advertising literature by the organ. I do not have the 1973 IOF brochure/programme which may have more, or less, information.

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The only mention of an organ there is by Ebrall no mention of a Nicholson, but maybe this is an NPOR problem, to be honest I have stopped sending entries in as they never get added.


The 2015 BIOS AGM included a report from the NPOR which can be found published with other AGM papers on the BIOS website.
The following may be of interest:
'In spite of our efforts the backlog is still proving obstinate. The number of items is about 875 and the waiting time 17 months as compared with 800 and 16months a year ago. This is disappointing, but the reasons are understandable: although two new editors were appointed last year, one subsequently stood down and several editors had to take time off during 2014 for illness or other reasons. Another editor has been appointed and is being trained.'


Please don't give up basdav, however frustrating the delay is, or the resource will loose credibility if not kept up to date from the field work contributing members provide.

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Well said Philip


As one of the editors who has been unable to do much recently, I find it frustrating (a house move with all the sorting out that entails, plus retirement and my wife being largely out of action for 6 months due to a very badly broken arm), not to mention my own health issues. I'm hoping to get back into some sort of routine shortly.


Please keep information coming to NPOR. We will get to it eventually


Every Blessing



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Although not directly relevant to the topic, a few more words about NPOR might be appropriate. Whilst not perhaps in a dire situation, my reading of it suggests that its funding position is some way from being assured, and it depends very much on the support of BIOS (which in practice means the BIOS membership, who are supporting it via their subscriptions whether they are aware of it or not). This seems somewhat inequitable to me, given the enormous value of the service which is used gratis by the world and his wife, most of whom are not BIOS members of course. Therefore it would not seem unreasonable in my view for NPOR to become a subscription-only service. Not long ago I wrote to NPOR management suggesting this, and I received a lengthy and very helpful reply which, inter alia, pointed out that if this were to be done, they would almost certainly experience a large drop in usage. More to the point, they might also run into difficulties with the charitable status of NPOR and BIOS by which they are expected to 'educate the public'. Hence NPOR's 'Wikipedia business model' by which it remains free at the point of use but seeks voluntary contributions to maintain a small core staff.


This being so, perhaps more users might be moved to make the financial contributions which its website exhorts us to do. If there was more more money available maybe they could use it to improve the shortcomings perceived by forum members in their posts above.



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