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Mander Organs
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David Thornton

Doncaster Console

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I didn’t realise it had been there before. Isn’t it a thing of wonder! I played it a number of times and came away thinking it was one of the most comfortable and ergonomic consoles that Walkers ever made. Everything was easy to find, accessible, great line of sight and so smooth in operation with those elephant tusk stop controls.It lasted a very long time indeed.

And you could see the choir over it - something impossible with the new console which looks plain ugly to my mind. No idea what you’d do with it but I’m drooling over those photos. 

Shame to see it languishing but it does look well cared for.

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I think Paul Derrett bought it first time it came up for sale. He also has the ex Tewkesbury console, if remember correctly, the Doncaster console was in much better condition, but only had 58 note keyboards.

 

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4 hours ago, D Quentin Bellamy said:

Just out of idle curiosity, would the floor have to be strengthened?  It looks a heavy brute.....

 

In a generic sense, this is an important issue for installing organs in domestic rooms (well, and any other sort of room really).  It's not something you can just ignore and hope for the best.  Pianos are similar.  My massive 3M&P drawstop console, containing much solid oak (I know because I made it myself!), was so heavy that I sought the advice of the surveyor when moving into a home which had suspended wood floors, unlike the previous one which had a concrete-floored music room on the ground floor.  I was particularly concerned because I intended to put it in a room upstairs.  If I recall correctly, he first asked about the total weight, but I didn't know the answer to that.  So then he asked whether it was possible for one person to lift each end separately off the floor, even if ever so slightly.  The answer to this was affirmative (just), so the surveyor then said it would be OK if it was placed perpendicular to the joists, that is, so that the long dimension (the width) of the console ran parallel to the floorboards.  This allowed the two load-points (the feet at each end of the console) to be supported by well-separated joists and their immediate neighbours.  However, doing it the other way would have meant that virtually the entire load would have been taken by only two adjacent joists.  At the least this might have caused the upper floor to sag, with detrimental cosmetic effects arising over time such as major cracks to the ceiling below, whereas at worst the floor could have failed completely with unthinkable consequences.  A diagonal placement across a corner would also have been OK in this case according to the surveyor.  Incidentally, this specific advice didn't cost anything because I was already paying him to do a general house-buyer's survey anyway.

He also said that similar considerations apply to pianos, especially uprights.  Apparently a grand piano isn't quite so critical because you can usually arrange the three load points optimally with respect to the joists, and the load is better spread anyway.  Another point he made was that upstairs rooms, if bedrooms, are designed for use as such, and therefore re-purposing them by putting unusual items in them can result in insurance problems in the event of a major claim.  Some insurers try to extract more wriggle-room than others in these situations, but then, we all know that.

I suppose I ought to add that this information is supplied in good faith but for information only.  I am simply retailing the advice I received in respect of the particular item of furniture and the particular house which the surveyor visited, saw with his own eyes, and was able to advise on.  I think you would be ill-advised to proceed on the basis of this post without taking independent advice regarding your particular circumstances.  From what the surveyor said at the time, it was clear that the issue Quentin raises here is a significant one, and one must always be safe rather than sorry.  Bear in mind that it isn't just the weight of the instrument itself.  You also have to add that of the player, and possibly a pupil if you intend to teach.  And at a Christmas party when the room might well be full of well-oiled carol singers, anything might happen!  So whatever you do, don't forget about the poor old floor which has to support it all.

I admit to possibly being a bit over-sensitised to the matter, because as a child I was awakened one night by a terrific crash to find that the head end of my bed had fallen through the floor.  It turned out that the lovely, large Victorian house in which we lived was riddled with woodworm.  OK, it got fixed, at a price I guess to my shocked parents and we lived happily ever after as they say, but it goes to show that things like this can happen ...

CEP

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Well I see the console is sold for the princely sum of £940.  Hopefully if for a domestic setting the winning bidder will have observed this thread.... 😎

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Another story which illustrates the potential fragility of buildings if you want to put heavy furniture in them .....

I think it was In the 1970s when there was an incident concerning a Steinway grand on an upper floor in an 18th century grade 1 listed building of the 'Nash Terrace' variety.  I don't know how the piano got there in the first place, but when the owner wanted to move he engaged a major specialist piano remover.  Having perused the small print of the remover's insurance policy he decided to take out additional cover himself just to be on the safe side, so he called in at Lloyds of London.  They said it was no problem and gave him a quote of £5 just to cover the move.  Came the day, and the removers decided to lower the piano out of a window onto the street below.  As part of the process they used massive baulks of timber inside the room wedged against the street-facing wall.   All went well at first, with the piano dangling from block and tackle in mid air, until suddenly the entire frontage of the house collapsed into the street, piano and all.

Lloyds presumably picked up at least part of the bill, but Steinway's were apparently able to reconstruct the piano because the frame was undamaged.

CEP

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