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St Mary's Rawtenstall, Lancashire.


Guest Roffensis
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Guest Roffensis

Recently I rerturned to Rawtenstall to visit my old Vicar, and of course went to see the organ gain. I last played this organ some 15 years ago, when it was still in good order and sounded magnificent. The organ was built by "Hill and Son", as per the plaque, but I think is unique in being a copy of a Cavaille Coll, complete with ventils and terraced console, although the names are largely in English. The Great is on the bottom keys etc, and it appears to me that a fourth manual may have been prepared for. There are some very interesting stops, such as "Musette", not to mention a pedal Bombarde which found it's way to another location, and is now stored in someone's cellar now, so I gather. The organ is incredibly French toned, nothing like a Hill, and has a boneted swell box, a massive and very fine Hill case not unlike Chichester, with duck egg blue pipes, with French mouths of course! The church now has no Organist, nor is the organ maintained I believe, and the organ sits in the east end of the north gallery, console at ground level, just waiting for a day that may never come, to see it restored. Even if it were restored, one poses the question what its use could be in a Evangelical church that manages perfectly well without it?. When I played it last weekend it had deteriorated badly, there were ciphers aplenty, and probably much could be done in simple tuning visits adjusting trackers and the barker lever etc. To me I find it a travesty that this organ is being just left, when it could be a superb recital instrument, and could go somewhere where it would be used and valued. What is the point of leaving such a unique gem to its fate? The church cannot afford the cost to restore it, and really they have inherited what has become a white Elephant, but here is an organ that should be used, and should be restored as it is. I know of nothing else like it at all anywhere else in this country. It's on the NPOR, with two pretty bad photos of it, I took some of it but the battery was flat and they did not come out, oh well!! :) I wish that somweone out there could find a fitting home for it, it's one organ that really should not be allowed to bite the dust, it would make a superb west end job for a cathedral, it seems so very sad.

I just wanted to draw readers attentions to this sleeping beauty.

R

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Recently I rerturned to Rawtenstall to visit my old Vicar, and of course went to see the organ gain. I last played this organ some 15 years ago, when it was still in good order and sounded magnificent. The organ was built by "Hill and Son", as per the plaque, but I think is unique in being a copy of a Cavaille Coll,  complete with ventils and terraced console, although the names are largely in English. The Great is on the bottom keys etc, and it appears to me that a fourth manual may have been prepared for. There are some very interesting stops, such as "Musette", not to mention a pedal Bombarde which found it's way to another location, and is now stored in someone's cellar now, so I gather. The organ is incredibly French toned, nothing like a Hill, and has a boneted swell box, a massive and very fine Hill case not unlike Chichester, with duck egg blue pipes, with French mouths of course! The church now has no Organist, nor is the organ maintained I believe, and the organ sits in the east end of the north gallery, console at ground level, just waiting for a day that may never come, to see it restored. Even if it were restored, one poses the question what its use could be in a Evangelical church that manages perfectly well without it?. When I played it last weekend it had deteriorated badly,  there were ciphers aplenty, and probably much could be done in simple tuning visits adjusting trackers and the barker lever etc. To me I find it a travesty that this organ is being just left, when it could be a superb recital instrument, and could go somewhere where it would be used and valued. What is the point of leaving such a unique gem to its fate? The church cannot afford the cost to restore it, and really they have inherited what has become a white Elephant, but here is an organ that should be used, and should be restored as it is. I know of nothing else like it at all anywhere else in this country. It's on the NPOR, with two pretty bad photos of it, I took some of it but the battery was flat and they did not come out, oh well!! :)  I wish that somweone out there could find a fitting home for it, it's one organ that really should not be allowed to bite the dust, it would make a superb west end job for a cathedral, it seems so very sad.

I just wanted to draw readers attentions to this sleeping beauty.

R

 

========================

 

Thank you for drawing attention to this particular instrument, of which I knew absolutely nothing prior to this. Like others, I was certainly aware of the Hill-Gauntlett "German" style, and indeed once played the celebrated, but now detsroyed organ which stood in Great George Street Congs., Liverpool. It beggars belief that Hill also experimented with the French-style.

 

It is so sad to see England's finest Victorian organ-builder so neglected, and the same is evident at St.Mary Magdelene, Bradford (threatened with closure) and the now silent (replaced by a poor toaster) instrument at High Bentham PC in N.Yorks.

 

Lottery funding is one thing, but we just don't have the sort of machinery which they have in place in Holland; more is the pity. It seems that we are able to value buildings as pieces of architecture, and many old places of worship remain as restored; at least externally. Of the organs within these old buildings, no-one seems to care, and they just seem to deteriorate or end up as a bonfire.

 

MM

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there were moves affoot (2005) regarding the possibility of this instrument being moved to another church in the Diocese of manchester. I don't know what stage these are at or if they have fallen through. I was of the impression that the instrument would not be allowed to be broken up & unusually that the diocese has been involved.

P.L.

 

========================

 

Thank you for drawing attention to this particular instrument, of which I knew absolutely nothing prior to this. Like others, I was certainly aware of the Hill-Gauntlett "German" style, and indeed once played the celebrated, but now detsroyed organ which stood in Great George Street Congs., Liverpool. It beggars belief that Hill also experimented with the French-style.

 

It is so sad to see England's finest Victorian organ-builder so neglected, and the same is evident at St.Mary Magdelene, Bradford (threatened with closure) and the now silent (replaced by a poor toaster) instrument at High Bentham PC in N.Yorks.

 

Lottery funding is one thing, but we just don't have the sort of machinery which they have in place in Holland; more is the pity. It seems that we are able to value buildings as pieces of architecture, and many old places of worship remain as restored; at least externally. Of the organs within these old buildings, no-one seems to care, and they just seem to deteriorate or end up as a bonfire.

 

MM

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Guest Roffensis

No photos, and I knew that Manchester diocese had been involved, there had been talk of it being moved, and it appears that they were in of it not being broken up......I should think so too. Surely there must be some church out there, cathedral or not, that could find a palce for this real gem. I know that Leeds cathedral was looking for a pipe organ at one point, and here's one that would really be ideal.R

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  • 1 month later...
No photos, and I knew that Manchester diocese had been involved, there had been talk of it being moved, and it appears that they were in of it not being broken up......I should think so too. Surely there must be some church out there, cathedral or not, that could find a palce for this real gem. I know that Leeds cathedral was looking for a pipe organ at one point, and here's one that would really be ideal.R

 

 

The Rawtenstall organ is highlighted in an article by Gerald Sumner in BIOS Journal 18. He concludes that the organ is certainly Hill in character, with a Cavaille-Coll style console and a French quality to the tone. I would thoroughly recommend this article and its general theme of the French influence in High Victorian Lancashire.

..Surely an organ that must be saved.

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========================

 

Thank you for drawing attention to this particular instrument, of which I knew absolutely nothing prior to this. Like others, I was certainly aware of the Hill-Gauntlett "German" style, and indeed once played the celebrated, but now detsroyed organ which stood in Great George Street Congs., Liverpool. It beggars belief that Hill also experimented with the French-style.

 

It is so sad to see England's finest Victorian organ-builder so neglected, and the same is evident at St.Mary Magdelene, Bradford (threatened with closure) and the now silent (replaced by a poor toaster) instrument at High Bentham PC in N.Yorks.

 

Lottery funding is one thing, but we just don't have the sort of machinery which they have in place in Holland; more is the pity. It seems that we are able to value buildings as pieces of architecture, and many old places of worship remain as restored; at least externally. Of the organs within these old buildings, no-one seems to care, and they just seem to deteriorate or end up as a bonfire.

 

MM

 

Hi

 

St. Mary Magdalen organ has been saved - see the NPOR entry.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi

 

St. Mary Magdalen organ has been saved - see the NPOR entry.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

 

=====================

 

 

That is wonderful news indeed! Thanks for the information Tony.

 

Now we must turn our efforts towards St.Mary's (RC), East Parade, Bradford, where masses are set to discontinue "in the near future" according to a press release form the Leeds RC Diocese.

 

This may be a little premature as the organ is still presumably in use, but there is a potential tragedy unfolding here.

 

St.Mary's was the original site of a large Belgian Annessens instrument, as I have mentioned before. Opened by Jaques Lemmens, that particular instrument had a 5-manual console, but I'm not quite sure what the 5th manual did. Using the Schmoele & Mol patent electric action, the organ proved unreliable and the metalurgical properties of the metal pipes less than robust. Although various attempts were made to improve the original instrument with pneumatic-action (Binns I believe), the very soft nature of the pipework was to be its undoing and the organ was effectively scrapped.

 

At the same time, a decent instrument became available from the Methodist Church, Heckmondwike, originally built by Henry Booth of Otley (not to be confused with Henry Booth of Leeds). Booth of Otley was the heir and successor to Joseph Booth of Wakefield, and they survived in Otley only a few years before eventually going out of business for whatever reason.

 

However, Henry Booth was the OTHER organ-builder who worked with the great Edmund Schulze; Charles Brindley being the first at Doncaster. Together, they did work at Charterhouse School, and when this organ was eventually sold, some of the pipework ended up in Marylebone, London. (What a mistake THAT was on the part of the school!)

 

They also collaborated on another organ, at Bingley Methodist Church, which I recall well. Fortunately, when the chapel closed, the then organist Dr.Gilbert Freeman put a great deal of effort into saving the instrument, which resulted in it being re-installed elsewhere.

 

Consequently, Henry Booth was greatly influenced by Schulze, and yet, so few of his organs remain.

 

St.Mary's RC Bradford is a large three-manual instrument, based on the Booth organ from Heckmondwike, and speaking into a vast acoustic. In some ways, it is not quite loud enough for what is an enormous church, but in the chancel, it is a glorious sound indeed. Sadly, it was entirely down to the generosity and devotion of a former organist (now deceased) that this organ has survived at all, and extensive work had continued until recent days, paid for by the rather weathy aforementioned gentleman, Mr Paul Hanson. Although originally installed by Wood, Wordsworth & Co Ltd of Leeds, and enlarged (complete with a Tuba!), the ongoing work has been done by John T Jackson, and the last time I played this instrument in 2001, it was sounding and playing well.

 

Hopefully, I shall be able to make a good recording of this organ before the church finally closes its doors.

 

However, the comment about Leeds RC Cathedral set me thinking. Leeds Cathedral has a huge acoustic and a rather sadly redundant Norman & Beard organ (with a Compton Tuba which came from the Davies Theatre in Croydon!). The building is about HALF the size of St.Mary's, Bradford, and absolutely perfect for the splendid Henry Booth organ. The fact that so much work has been done to the Bradford organ makes it an attractive proposition for any would-be buyer.

 

This is an important instrument, and one hopes that a suitable home could be found for it within our shores. It would be a great pity if this, like many others organs, found its way to Poland as some have done already.

 

Maybe Poland is the place to be! After all, Zych organ-builders (Poland) have either just finished, or are in the process of building a SIX manual instrument!

 

Poor little Poland!

 

MM

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=====================

That is wonderful news indeed! Thanks for the information Tony.

 

Now we must turn our efforts towards St.Mary's (RC), East Parade, Bradford, where masses are set to discontinue "in the near future" according to a press release form the Leeds RC Diocese.

 

This may be a little premature as the organ is still presumably in use, but there is a potential tragedy unfolding here.

 

 

MM

 

Hi

 

I hear that St. Mary's is virtually already closed - certainly it will be one of the first to go - so if you're so inclined, act NOW! (I might be able to help with a recording if something can be arranged). The Bradford Catholic Deanary are planning to close 12 churches, if the current proposals are accepted next month - and cut from 20 parishes to 10, so there may well be a few more organs looking for homes over the next few years.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Hi

 

I hear that St. Mary's is virtually already closed - certainly it will be one of the first to go - so if you're so inclined, act NOW!  (I might be able to help with a recording if something can be arranged).  The Bradford Catholic Deanary are planning to close 12 churches, if the current proposals are accepted next month - and cut from 20 parishes to 10, so there may well be a few more organs looking for homes over the next few years.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

 

Are we talking about the same organ? St.Mary's East Parade, Bradford (where I heard the organ not two years ago) the present instrument is far from being an Anneesens. It is obviously something else rehomed - the case is all that has any quality about it.

 

Sorry if I sound thoroughly out of sympathy for anyone's favourite instrument. Frankly, I couldn't believe how poor it was. If this is really an organ deserving of rescuing, I can think of many, many others to rescue first!

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Are we talking about the same organ?  St.Mary's East Parade, Bradford (where I heard the organ not two years ago) the present instrument is far from being an Anneesens. It is obviously something else rehomed - the case is all that has any quality about it. 

 

Sorry if I sound thoroughly out of sympathy for anyone's favourite instrument.  Frankly, I couldn't believe how poor it was.  If this is really an organ deserving of rescuing, I can think of many, many others to rescue first!

 

==================

 

 

Please refer to my earlier post. The organ is largely by Henry Booth of Otley, the successor to Booth of Wakefield, and the organ-builder who worked with Schulze.

 

Only the 32ft flue and the case are from the original organ.

 

I shall endeavour to see what condition it is in as a matter of some urgency, but it certainly sounded splendid the last time I heard it.

 

MM

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  • 6 months later...

I played the Rawtenstall organ in January and took a load of pictures which I cannot find at the moment. Here's one I took of the case though. I've never really seen anything like the blue decoration on another Hill before. But then again, I haven't seen ventils or French ordering of the manuals either.

 

It really is a travesty that this organ is in the state it is, when it is one of the most notable Hill's around. Despite the condition it is in, the stops all seemed to work with the exception of the Choir Basset Horn and the pedal Ophicleide (I didn't realise that the pipes were in fact missing.) Even the Barker Lever coupling was functioning throughout the compass.

 

The most disappointing aspect of the whole situation is that about 18 months ago the organ was awarded a Heritage Lottery Grant for its restoration. However the church's minister refused the grant on the grounds of the money being 'tainted' by the sin of gambling. The same minister reputedly favoured the instrument's removal in favour of more space on the chancel.

(A relative living in Burnley sent the article from a local newspaper)

 

Thanks

 

James

 

105991974_573a30e2a7_b.jpg

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Blimey.  Well, if someone tries to throw it away, someone shout & I'll be there with a lorry in 4 hours.

 

 

And if David's phone line is engaged when you ring, no problem: you could ring me and I'd come with a van.

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Guest Roffensis

Brilliant to have a photo of the case, which is huge. Re the case pipes, Duck Egg Blue was actually used on some Hill jobs. As to the Minister, I knew him when in Liverpool as I was his Organist for four years. The church I was at in Liverpool is what I would call very low Protestant Evangelical, and shared the same policy that Heritage money should not be used for restoration of any church fabric, preferring prayer. I will add that the church spire is currently being restored with, I gather, funding from English Heritage....... B)

 

Rawtenstall continues to be a travesty, and I suppose its fate is to sit and rot, which isn't appropriate for an instrument of this calibre. :)

 

Richard

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=====================

That is wonderful news indeed! Thanks for the information Tony.

 

Now we must turn our efforts towards St.Mary's (RC), East Parade, Bradford, where masses are set to discontinue "in the near future" according to a press release form the Leeds RC Diocese.

 

This may be a little premature as the organ is still presumably in use, but there is a potential tragedy unfolding here.

 

St.Mary's was the original site of a large Belgian Annessens instrument, as I have mentioned before. Opened by Jaques Lemmens, that particular instrument had a 5-manual console, but I'm not quite sure what the 5th manual did. Using the Schmoele & Mol patent electric action, the organ proved unreliable and the metalurgical properties of the metal pipes less than robust. Although various attempts were made to improve the original instrument with pneumatic-action (Binns I believe), the very soft nature of the pipework was to be its undoing and the organ was effectively scrapped.

 

At the same time, a decent instrument became available from the Methodist Church, Heckmondwike, originally built by Henry Booth of Otley (not to be confused with Henry Booth of Leeds). Booth of Otley was the heir and successor to Joseph Booth of Wakefield, and they survived in Otley only a few years before eventually going out of business for whatever reason.

 

However, Henry Booth was the OTHER organ-builder who worked with the great Edmund Schulze; Charles Brindley being the first at Doncaster. Together, they did work at Charterhouse School, and when this organ was eventually sold, some of the pipework ended up in Marylebone, London. (What a mistake THAT was on the part of the school!)

 

They also collaborated on another organ, at Bingley Methodist Church, which I recall well. Fortunately, when the chapel closed, the then organist Dr.Gilbert Freeman put a great deal of effort into saving the instrument, which resulted in it being re-installed elsewhere.

 

Consequently, Henry Booth was greatly influenced by Schulze, and yet, so few of his organs remain.

 

St.Mary's RC Bradford is a large three-manual instrument, based on the Booth organ from Heckmondwike, and speaking into a vast acoustic. In some ways, it is not quite loud enough for what is an enormous church, but in the chancel, it is a glorious sound indeed. Sadly, it was entirely down to the generosity and devotion of a former organist (now deceased) that this organ has survived at all, and extensive work had continued until recent days, paid for by the rather weathy aforementioned gentleman, Mr Paul Hanson. Although originally installed by Wood, Wordsworth & Co Ltd of Leeds, and enlarged (complete with a Tuba!), the ongoing work has been done by John T Jackson, and the last time I played this instrument in 2001, it was sounding and playing well.

 

Hopefully, I shall be able to make a good recording of this organ before the church finally closes its doors.

 

However, the comment about Leeds RC Cathedral set me thinking. Leeds Cathedral has a huge acoustic and a rather sadly redundant Norman & Beard organ (with a Compton Tuba which came from the Davies Theatre in Croydon!). The building is about HALF the size of St.Mary's, Bradford, and absolutely perfect for the splendid Henry Booth organ. The fact that so much work has been done to the Bradford organ makes it an attractive proposition for any would-be buyer.

 

This is an important instrument, and one hopes that a suitable home could be found for it within our shores. It would be a great pity if this, like many others organs, found its way to Poland as some have done already.

 

Maybe Poland is the place to be!  After all, Zych organ-builders (Poland) have either just finished, or are in the process of building a SIX manual instrument!

 

Poor little Poland!

 

MM

This might have you laughing like the Cadbury Smash robots, MM, but I did hear that the Leeds R.C. N&B was to be actually incorporated into an otherwise new Klais. The Bath Abbey approach.

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This might have you laughing like the Cadbury Smash robots, MM, but I did hear that the Leeds R.C.  N&B was to be actually incorporated into an otherwise new Klais. The Bath Abbey approach.

 

=========================

 

I'm sure Klais make splendid organs, but I just can't imagine anything being based on an extant Norman & Beard organ, which would remotely agree with almost anything Klais have ever done.

 

The Norman & Beard I have played....sort of....in spite of the fact that it hasn't been tuned for years. As English organs of the period go, it is a splendid sound, with some superb orchestral reeds, one of the best Tubas in the business and a Vox Humana to die for.

 

I just cannot understand why it can't just be rebuilt as it is, because it is more than adequate for a small catholic cathedral.

 

In fact, they have just poured a lot of money into a new digital instrument, which will probably be quite impressive, but hardly the real thing.

 

MM

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=========================

 

I'm sure Klais make splendid organs, but I just can't imagine anything being based on an extant Norman & Beard organ, which would remotely agree with almost anything Klais have ever done.

 

The Norman & Beard I have played....sort of....in spite of the fact that it hasn't been tuned for years. As English organs of the period go, it is a splendid sound, with some superb orchestral reeds, one of the best Tubas in the business and a Vox Humana to die for.

 

I just cannot understand why it can't just be rebuilt as it is, because it is more than adequate for a small catholic cathedral.

 

In fact, they have just poured a lot of money into a new digital instrument, which will probably be quite impressive, but hardly the real thing.

 

MM

 

Hi

 

I understand from one of my RC colleagues that the pipe organ will be replaced/rebuilt at some time - but since they've just spent a lot of money on the fabric of the building, there are no funds at present. The cathedral has been closed for several months - I think it's due to reopen sometime this month.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Found my photos so here's the Rawtenstall gallery:

The whole gallery can be found here: James Goldrick's 'Flickr' page

Hope you anjoy the pics of this marvellous instrument and join the cause for its restoration

 

Thanks

 

James Goldrick

 

 

Wow!

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What an absolutely fascinating instrument!

 

From James's photos it would seem that the three manuals are GO, Solo and Récit, whereas the NPOR entry ("corrected in the light of current research") makes no mention of the Solo, but calls it "Positif" instead. Can anyone clarify why?

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What an absolutely fascinating instrument!

 

From James's photos it would seem that the three manuals are GO, Solo and Récit, whereas the NPOR entry ("corrected in the light of current research") makes no mention of the Solo, but calls it "Positif" instead. Can anyone clarify why?

 

Hi

 

Because that's what the information we were given says! As the survey says, the info is from Sumner, BIOS Journal No 18, 1994. If anyone has documented information that contradicts this - then let us know. What do the department labels on the console say? (if there are any).

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

NPOR Editor

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=========================

 

I'm sure Klais make splendid organs, but I just can't imagine anything being based on an extant Norman & Beard organ, which would remotely agree with almost anything Klais have ever done.

 

MM

 

 

Klais, of course, are rebuilding the much-mutiliated N&B in Auckland Town Hall, NZ, with Ian Bell as consultant. I've no idea how much, if anything, of the old instrument - for example the splendid Edwardian case of 1911 - is being retained.

 

Auckland Town Hall

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