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OmegaConsort

Holy Trinity Coventry

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I notice from the Church website that a 2nd hand Harrison organ has been purchased for the Church from a redundant building "up North". This could be good news. It's a lovely church which once housed a 4-manual Willis (1960's) which was scrapped in or around 2008. Since then, a toaster has been in use. I don't know any more than this, and have no direct connections with the church, but thought people might like to know about it, given an appeal for money has been launched!

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The only redundant Harrison organ I can think of is that in St Thomas, Bedford near Leigh in Lancashire.  It's  a 1922 H & H and a superb instrument and deserves a good home.  From memory it has  generous stoplist complete with 32 Open Wood.  I believe it was opened by Dupre.  I played it quite a few times when a good friend was organist there.  My money is on this one and if I'm right, it's a real stunner!

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Sounds likely doesn't it - and probably the right size for the building too. Depending on where they position it, it should sound stunning (hopefully not where the old organ was).

 

Richard Harrison

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The church that this Harrison is currently in (unless it's been removed for safe keeping....) is a whopper of cathedral proportions.  The organ has t/p action, and I know that a home has been sought for this organ for some years.  The church was declared redundant as there were problems with the structure - what the problems were, I simply don't know.  The organist for some years was Anthony Bogdan (a former work colleague) who jealously protected the instrument, and I know wants a home to be found for this magnificent instrument.  He is a fount of knowledge on the instrument.  The organ has had some piecemeal work done on it over the years by David Wells, mainly as a result of vandals stealing the valuable materials from the roof. Let's hope that this is the correct guess.......................!

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I think the church has now got it (in storage somewhere) awaiting funds to restore. I'm certain you are bang on with your guess Paul - despite saying in my first post that I have no connection with the church, I do have friends who have close connections!

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In the mid 90's Anthony Bogdan was kind enough to allow me to practice regularly on this organ. It was indeed very fine, and very loud. The Gt chorus in particular was very bright and crisp in a way that one does not usually associate with H&H of this period. The TP action was a joy to play, with immediate response, and worked perfectly, although it was attended-to by the organbuilder.

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=G00085

Interestingly, the other large local parish church - Leigh St Mary - has an earlier H&H rebuild with an almost identical stoplist. However the thoroughbred St. Thomas job was always regarded locally as having much the better effect, being sited in more generous acoustics. The 32' OW was quinted below GGGG, if memory serves.

The church is an immense red brick building, with a huge undercroft. A few years ago, it was found to be in need of major structural and electrical work at a seven-figure cost, presumably beyond the means of a small congregation. In the preceding years, the organ had been substantially damaged by water ingress due to a series of thefts of the lead roof above the chamber. 

If the suspicions are confirmed, it's wonderful news that this instrument will survive.

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Interesting although the NPOR entry referred to says "Organ Maintained" and gives no information as to the redundancy of the church or the sale, impending or otherwise, of the organ. Saying that the site https://www.achurchnearyou.com/bedford-st-thomas/ does indeed give the church as being closed and also has the correct postcode. It is good that the organ is to be preserved if the instrument mentioned earlier in this thread is this one I am glad it will be saved and not end up on the scrapheap.

As an aside the NPOR entry G00085 states that the organ was opened 27-Apr-2921 by Edward Bairstow.

Dave

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17 hours ago, Paul Isom said:

The only redundant Harrison organ I can think of is that in St Thomas, Bedford near Leigh in Lancashire.  It's  a 1922 H & H and a superb instrument and deserves a good home.  From memory it has  generous stoplist complete with 32 Open Wood.  I believe it was opened by Dupre.  I played it quite a few times when a good friend was organist there.  My money is on this one and if I'm right, it's a real stunner!

Not far from my home is another fine H&H that has stood redundant for several years. Another whopper, built in 1909 with 50-plus stops and four manuals it's in St Mary's, Stafford, and is a victim of the ever-increasing problem, MONEY!

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"money" is the problem found in all organs, whether running costs, rebuilds. People today (20017) have different priorities,   food, family, etc .Rich benefactors are needed, but they are either answering to others, or not interested , as Barry knows, eg Hull 

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In the Stafford case, the Harrison was replaced in 1974 by a new Hill, Norman & Beard west-end organ (one of John Norman's clever instruments which save space by sharing basses) fronted by the old case (which had been bolted onto the Double Open Wood of the Harrison), but the Harrison was retained and used, although not restored.  Although a magnificent instrument - and in a style which is probably more appreciated today than in the 70s - it suffers from entombment and is not heard at its best in the nave, where the liturgical action happens.  I suppose that, after 43 years, the HNB organ must be due for an overhaul, too.....

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HTC is a wonderfully historic place , very light and airy, but with no ideal place for an organ.   The H&H  in  Leigh is a superb example of organ building and whilst it isn't really my place to say more  . . . . . . . you may think that it has been bought by HTC, removed from Leigh church and stored in a secure location but I couldn't possibly comment .    This has all the makings of something really special and I hope enough money can be found, and a decent scheme drawn up, to bring it to fruition.

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14 hours ago, David Drinkell said:

In the Stafford case, the Harrison was replaced in 1974 by a new Hill, Norman & Beard west-end organ (one of John Norman's clever instruments which save space by sharing basses) fronted by the old case (which had been bolted onto the Double Open Wood of the Harrison), but the Harrison was retained and used, although not restored.  Although a magnificent instrument - and in a style which is probably more appreciated today than in the 70s - it suffers from entombment and is not heard at its best in the nave, where the liturgical action happens.  I suppose that, after 43 years, the HNB organ must be due for an overhaul, too.....

Quite agree about your entombment comments. There were some murmurings just a few years back (or so it would seem) that the Stafford H&H was the serious subject of restoration but I've not heard anything more.

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You may be interested to know that the Coventry Observer newspaper ran an article on 23rd Sept confirming the rescue by HTC of the H&H at St Thomas, Leigh. It quotes the church as saying they have rescued the iconic instrument which has now been purchased, dismantled and put into store. The church source also adds that in order to locate the organ in HTC, there will be a certain amount of re-ordering of storage space and vestries.

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4 hours ago, Barry Oakley said:

Quite agree about your entombment comments. There were some murmurings just a few years back (or so it would seem) that the Stafford H&H was the serious subject of restoration but I've not heard anything more.

From the S. Mary's website:

Quote

Sadly, the instrument is not maintained due to the major work required and roughly 50% of the instrument is now unusable either in part or totally. There are many leaks, the action is slow, a lot of the couplers do not work, many stops are inoperable and the tuning is interesting.

A day conference organised by the British Institute for Organ Studies took place on Saturday 22nd May 2010 to discuss the relative merits of replacing the pneumatic action with an electronic system. The unanimous conclusion of the conference was this instrument was too important and should therefore be restored as it was built. The total cost of this including endowment, will be in excess of £1,400,000 and could be part of a wider project to make St Mary's more accessible as an educational and concert venue.

 

http://www.stmarysstafford.org.uk/the-stafford-harrison.html

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Although slightly off the original topic, I hope readers may be interested to know that given a following wind, and depending on how quickly a blower electrics problem, diagnosed today, can be fixed, the Stafford St Mary Harrison may even yet be heard at 11am on Saturday October 21 as part of a Lollipops for 2 or 3 concert featuring DoM, Assistant Organist and Rector!  It has also been used for the more liturgically Eastward parts of recent years' Advent and Epiphany Carols, and an occasional Choral Evensong.  Whilst there is no denying its advanced debilitation, the late Gordon Reynolds would surely have admired the clothes-peg under Swell middle A as a visual reminder - "don"t, whatever you do, play that note..", and the Sw/Gt/Ped choruses remain generally obliging, (slthough competing with very considerable wind noises).  The West End HNB had its full clean and fettling a little over a year ago.

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19 hours ago, Dafydd y Garreg Wen said:

Thanks for this Dafydd, the £1.4 million is an eye-watering figure for a 50-stop organ. The restoration of aged pipe organs, a great many of them built thanks to generous benefactors, is of particular interest. Digressing, I have a particular interest and concern for the 80-year-old Forster & Andrews/John Compton rebuild organ in Hull Minster - four manuals and 104 speaking stops that has had no major restoration in all those years. It's now crying out for compassion and a generous purse.

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However, the 1.4m capital figure is stated as including an endowment. Depending on whether they're planning to fund just organ maintenance or also other costs with the endowment income, and whether it's planned to be a perpetuity or a progressive withdrawal of principal, the endowment could be the greater portion of the capital. So the restoration costs, allowing for the size differential of 50 stops vs 37 stops, could be comparable with Bedford.  

On a related point, I found it amusing to use the effects of compound inflation to adjust the original cost of Bedford - as stated in the NPOR entry - into today's money. It came out at rather less than I expected at a little under 200k. Of course this is a gross simplification and does not account for the variation of the cost of hand craftsmanship and organ materials relative to general prices over that time period, compound inflation being of course a measure of a varying basket of consumer goods unrelated to organbuilding. But it is still an interesting benchmark. 

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