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Worcester Cathedral


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I remember hearing the old organ in the 90's - we were sitting at the top of the nave near the Transept case. The organist was using the Solo reeds exclusively for certain passages in a "call and answer" duel with the Quire sections. It was bloody loud!

I remember the Quire sections seeming a bit distant, might have been better if we were sitting under the crossing as opposed to the top of the south Nave aisle.

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There seems to be a fair degree of secrecy regarding the state of the Tickell organ. I read earlier, from a knowledgeable source on Facebook, that all mains electrics and all of the electrical transmission were having to be replaced, however it now looks as if that post has been deleted! It seems a fair assumption that the organ is currently unplayable.

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On 21/01/2021 at 13:31, sotto said:

There seems to be a fair degree of secrecy regarding the state of the Tickell organ. I read earlier, from a knowledgeable source on Facebook, that all mains electrics and all of the electrical transmission were having to be replaced, however it now looks as if that post has been deleted! It seems a fair assumption that the organ is currently unplayable.

That strongly suggests a major electrical ‘accident’ rather than an issue of routine maintenance.  These things happen, unfortunately, and some details at Worcester already quoted might afford a hint.  I remember the late Carey Humphreys, former organist/ curator of the Compton in Portsmouth Guildhall, relating that he made a routine visit during major building works there just in time to prevent the organ’s main cable to the mobile console floor socket being cut.

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Organ Builders are not usually allowed to carry out mains electrical work.  Whilst any changes/additions to mains electrical installations may be specified by Organ Builders, it is generally the institute in question which is in charge of engaging contractors, arranging for the work to be carried out and signing it off.

Likewise with regard to Transmission and Capture systems, the Organ Builders may specify some of the details but will buy them from specialist manufacturers.  The manufacturer of Worcester's transmission also supplied systems to St. Paul's, a year or two earlier I believe, and I understand that their system was not without problems either.  St. P's threw in the towel a few years ago and replaced theirs with a system by a different manufacturer so if Worcester are having problems with or replacing their system, I think it should reflect on the manufacture not the Organ Builder.

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To be clear, my comment did not imply any criticism of Kenneth Tickell or the suppliers of the transmission and capture systems.  It is possible that the problems stem from things done by an independent third party.  That was the situation at Portsmouth Guildhall in the example which I quoted.  It emphasises the necessity for someone knowledgeable to coordinate works to take account of possible damage and prevent it happening.  I won’t shame them by naming the venues here, but I know of two fine organs damaged when other works were carried out due to lack of forward-planning and, sadly, simply ignorance.

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I've heard it that the Tickell organ's electrical problems have now been fixed by Nicholsons. Great to hear... and I haven't forgotten the wonderful day by day photo history that Adrian Lucas gave us of this installation which we all enjoyed. Let's hope that all goes well now for this instrument and that we will hear news of the development of the transept organ one day.

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Interesting photos from that case study. I know HVAC engineers are accustomed to working in cramped spaces at dangerous heights, but I can't imagine that being installed without at least the pipes from these divisions being removed. The sequence of events and delays can easily be imagined - although such speculation is probably unhealthy, it's interesting for amateurs like me to ponder the effort which even apparently straightforward work must involve.

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