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John Pike Mander

Restoration Reports

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For those who may be interested, the reports on the restoration of the organs at St George's Southall and Sacred Heart Wimbledon have been added to the relevant web pages on the organs in the Mander website.

 

John

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Thank you, most interesting. I've had a quick look at the links to these instruments on the Mander website provided in another of today's posts by your webmaster. Concerning Wimbledon, it is gratifying that we still have an organ builder in the UK who is at home with, nay an expert at, pneumatic actions, and I take my hat off to you when thinking about the thicket of tubing and other mechanisms! What patience must have been required, quite apart from the necessary skills of course.

 

In the Restoration Report is a mention of one of the near-contemporary organs from that Walker stable, that at St Mary's Nottingham which was said to have been broken up in 1973. In fact this was some years after the instrument collapsed completely in 1968. However I consider myself fortunate to have had lessons on it prior to that, and despite its shortcomings (one of which was a near-ludicrous position in the building), I still recall vividly its tonal beauty as experienced at the console and nearby.

 

Not wishing to be a party-pooper, might I also point out a slightly embarrassing typo on the page on your website where you refer to the "Specification of the Walker Organ at the Scared Heart Wimbledon" ! (It happens to all of us from time to time ... )

 

Best wishes.

 

CEP

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You might be interested to know Colin that some of the pipework from the Walker organ in St Mary's Nottingham found its way into our organ at St Francis Welwyn Garden City!

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You might be interested to know Colin that some of the pipework from the Walker organ in St Mary's Nottingham found its way into our organ at St Francis Welwyn Garden City!

 

Yes, now you remind me of it Richard, I do recollect that. Thank you. I may have have forgotten which ranks, but have a memory that a swell reed and a mixture were included? I recall with more certainty that the thunderous 32 foot Contra Trombone went to Cape Town cathedral. I think all this happened after the instrument was advertised as nothing more than a list of bits and pieces in Musical Opinion!

 

CEP

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I

 

 

Yes, now you remind me of it Richard, I do recollect that. Thank you. I may have have forgotten which ranks, but have a memory that a swell reed and a mixture were included? I recall with more certainty that the thunderous 32 foot Contra Trombone went to Cape Town cathedral. I think all this happened after the instrument was advertised as nothing more than a list of bits and pieces in Musical Opinion!

 

CEP

 

think so Colin - RAC (a member of this forum), I am sure will confirm this at some point soon as he is organist!

Speaking of the 32' trombone, I am sure I read somewhere that Ralph Downes had a less-than favourable opinion of the rank when he was playing there during the war years and said words to the effect that he had never heard such an unmusical noise! I cannot remember where I read this, and would also add that my words are an approximation of what I can remember!

We have a 16' posaune on our pedal organ which, to me is a most unmusical sound!

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Speaking of the 32' trombone, I am sure I read somewhere that Ralph Downes had a less-than favourable opinion of the rank when he was playing there during the war years and said words to the effect that he had never heard such an unmusical noise! I cannot remember where I read this, and would also add that my words are an approximation of what I can remember!

We have a 16' posaune on our pedal organ which, to me is a most unmusical sound!

 

You are right about Downes's opinion of the pedal reed which he wrote about in his book Baroque Tricks. Quoting:

 

"One prominent feature was the so-called Contra Trombone 32-feet, the first I had ever met at first hand: making an excited first trial of this stop I was astounded at its literally thunderous effect, so much as to lack credibility. What was there of 'trombone' about a sound which merely threatened [it seemed] to wreck the organ gallery? It was only after I had inherited its younger brother at Brompton Oratory, fifteen years later, that I could appreciate how this stop had been conceived and why it was basically so wrong".

 

So he used the same adjective 'thunderous' as I did a few posts above, without consciously recalling his remarks at the time. Like me, he had also taken lessons on the instrument, though there the similarities between us cease! I might add that my teacher (the late Russell Missin) seldom allowed me to use it, and if it popped out with a piston he usually poked it back in again. The bell ringers didn't like it either!

 

But organs reflect their time and place, as does so much of human culture. It was just part of the zeitgeist of the Edwardian period. Having not played or heard the Wimbledon organ which started this thread, I wonder what its Contra Trombone is like today?

 

CEP

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