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Hewins Organ Builder, Stratford-upon-Avon

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Some members will be familiar with the instruments built by the Hewins company quite a number of which are extant, particularly in Warwickshire although examples can be found around the country.  I have played several Hewins' organs over the years and found them to be well built and musical. Some of the original instruments did have a lot of 8' tone and have sometimes had later additions to bring some brightness and to counter the imposition of upholsered chairs and carpets in the churches in which they were installed. This is a typical small organ from the company and is unaltered except for the 2' stop on the Great Organ which was added when the church was enlarged and carpeted. I was in the choir at this church when a young boy and remember that the electric blower failed now and again. There was sometimes an unholy rush from the choir stalls to the vestry in order to used the pumping handle as it meant an extra shilling in the quarterly choir pay for the winner! It was also the first organ I played for a service on a Good Friday when the regular organist was unavailable; I think I was 11 at the time.

Richard Mallison, the great great grandson of Thomas Hewins the founder of the company has produced and published a most interesting booklet about the history of both the company and his family and if anyone would like a copy at cost price, £2.00, please contact me by pm to arrange for copies to be provided.

 

 

 

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The Bucks OA visited this one a few years ago:  http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D01532

The action to the manuals was rather slow and the pedals slightly slower than the manuals.  The pistons rose vertically from the back of the manuals so were pressed down to activate.  The octave couplers were essential to get any brightness - I've a feeling there was a Swell Octave to Great, not mentioned on NPOR.  Quite a contrast to the Parish Church and the Guild Chapel!

 

 

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From the specification and the picture of the console, it looks as though this one was rebuilt by Nicholson in the early years of the 20th century when Arthur Winfield owned the company.  NPOR does not mention this, but the console is a give-away (as is the spec).  Thus - not a representative scheme for Hewins, although interesting in itself (Winfield's organs ternded to sound a good deal more impressive than their specifications would suggest).

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David, you're quite right; the organ's builders plate proclaims it to be the work of Nicholson & C0. The URC organ does sound a lot better than the stop list would have one believe and bam, there is a Swell Octave to Great coupler called "Swell Super" grouped with the Great Organ couplers as well as a Great Super in its own right. I have just checked these from the hi-res photo from which I took the shots on the NPOR... Full organ is a bright clean sound with a good 2' tone from the 4' stops  and octave couplers.

The annual season of Friday lunchtime recitals on the church starts this Friday.

 

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Very interesting re the Winfield connection -  I had heard of him but not realised I had played one of his instruments.  I wonder what the Hewins spec was?

Everyone found the pistons very intriguing, once we had realised what they were.  The first player came back from the console and confidently stated that there were no pistons!

 

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Thanks to those who responded to my note about the booklet. There are a couple of cheques yet to arrive and when they have I'll pass everything on to the author who will send the booklets out.

I first played the URC organ about 45 (or+) years ago and can't remember a thing about it about apart from a request to put 4/- (20p in today's money) for the electricity! It seemed quite a lot at the time...

I think I would have remembered something such as the stop tabs which would have been quite alien to me at that time as the only stops I had encountered were "proper" ones on the sides of the console. This makes me think that the Nicholson console was perhaps a secondhand unit installed in 1993. I will try to find out more details both at the church and in our excellent local records office.

It's a great shame that Nicholsons didn't retain the Hewins company records when they bought it. All these and many other questions would easily have been answered...

 

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I think I goofed in spelling - it should be "Whinfield".

Not only the console, but also the specification points to Whinfield, so it seems to me that the whole instrument is the result of a rebuild in the early years of last century.  Other examples of Whinfield/Nicholson organs can be found on NPOR, including Claines (http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N03776) and Malvern (http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=J00212). The latter is still there and has an Historic Organs Certificate and pictures of the console.  I can't imagine that the present Nicholson firm would have re-used an old Whinfield console.  The complications would have been considerable.

Four bob for practice would certainly have been a lot all those years ago, unless you spent the whole day there!

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I thought 4/- was too much and didn't go again. I later heard a whisper that the organist may have used the fees to supplement her gin and tobacco budget :o

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Something  reminded me of an article and after some rummaging I found it: JBIOS 18, by James Berrow. An account of the Whinfields (with an 'h' !) and the organ at The Wyche - this is the Malvern instrument noted above by David.

 

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I just came across Volume XXIII, No. 91, January 1944 of "The Organ", which contains Charles Myers' article on the Claines organ.  He uses the spelling "Winfield" throughout, so now I'm more confused than ever....

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