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Wells Cathedral


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New 24' or 32' case, total internal revision to create an instrument that speaks effectively both ways with enough punch to get past the strainer arches, modern winding system, nave console maybe. Yes I think a totally new organ re-using existing material sympathetically but not slavishly is probably the only reasonable course of action.

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3 hours ago, ajsphead said:

New 24' or 32' case, …  …

New 32’ case?  Maybe I have misunderstood.  I thought the existing case at Wells was rather fine for a modern effort, particularly the double east front in the quire.  Would that be for a revised west-facing case?  But the 32’ is a puzzle. From memory the height of the vault at Wells is 65 feet, or thereabouts, and the architectural proportions have to be respected.

Nothing as yet on the H&H website, nor about Norwich and Winchester which were understood to be waiting in the wings.

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8 hours ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

New 32’ case?  Maybe I have misunderstood.  I thought the existing case at Wells was rather fine for a modern effort, particularly the double east front in the quire.  Would that be for a revised west-facing case?  But the 32’ is a puzzle. From memory the height of the vault at Wells is 65 feet, or thereabouts, and the architectural proportions have to be respected.

Nothing as yet on the H&H website, nor about Norwich and Winchester which were understood to be waiting in the wings.

I also think it would be a shame to get rid of the existing case at Wells. Also perhaps the only way to balance the sound more to the nave side might be to put some ranks in the nave triforium. Should be an interesting project.

Dave

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9 hours ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

New 32’ case?  Maybe I have misunderstood.  I thought the existing case at Wells was rather fine for a modern effort, particularly the double east front in the quire.  Would that be for a revised west-facing case?  But the 32’ is a puzzle. From memory the height of the vault at Wells is 65 feet, or thereabouts, and the architectural proportions have to be respected.

Nothing as yet on the H&H website, nor about Norwich and Winchester which were understood to be waiting in the wings.

The existing case is just a reworking, albeit done well of the 1910 case. Look at the amount of wasted height above it to the top of the arch which would give space to get pipework to use the vaults as a sounding board and project over the strainer arches to get down the nave. You could stack 3 divisions with modern winding systems in that space. The height of the the current 16' s in the case shows you can easily get a 24' pipe in the height available, remember you can make a centre tower too. As far as I can see and hear, the only way you'll get sound past the strainer arches is to go over them. They make a very effective wall - looking at the video with the 70's additions, is looks like H&H came to a similar conclusion. The nave triforium from what I remember would be a no go, not enough space and narrow openings to the arches and the nave itself is, by compaarison with other places with organs on the pulpitum, not that long.

Look forward to seeing what they come up with.

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This could be solved by a matching Positive case facing West from the Pulpitum, which would allow for more pipes/rearrangement within the main case.

Then, a variation of the Buckfast/St Paul’s idea, with a Nave Great (for large congregations) on the West wall above the doors and a division containing these Jubilee Trumpets.

If there is no room in the Triforium for any 32’s, might one of the Transepts be used, as at Exeter ? It would be interesting to know where the Willis 32' Double Open Diapason was.

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There was no Willis 32’ at all - flue or reed - at Wells!   The Double Open Diapason 32’ was added by H&H and the bottom octave is acoustic (NPOR N06892).  Like ajsphead I have to rely on my recollection that the triforium at Wells has a very shallow depth, making it a no-go area for installing pipes.  (I learned recently that a distinguished organ consultant had reached exactly the same conclusion about a similar idea at Winchester.)  

In fact, just looking at photographs has reminded me that architectural writers refer to it as a “blind” triforium at Wells - the arches are filled with solid stone!  A further problem: there isn’t a lot of room above the central west door - it would have to be a relatively low case not to obscure the windows above.  There’s plenty of width, but the Cathedral Architect (or Surveyor of the Fabric) might not view the idea with such warmth as organists!  It will be interesting to see what actually happens.  

Wells is a very beautiful cathedral, but we need to bear in mind scale: the height of its nave vault is about 75% of that at Salisbury.

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Ah, the perils of poorly absorbed online info posted too early in the morning ! Nonetheless, they must have some idea of where they will site this "colossal 32-foot stop".

At the West end, it looks as if there is sufficient height for an 8' case centred above the doors, without obscuring the windows - unlike at Buckfast, where the cases are 'split'.

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On 25/06/2021 at 10:51, Rowland Wateridge said:

Nothing as yet on the H&H website, nor about Norwich and Winchester

Are Harrison’s getting all the big jobs these days? It seems that way. Does anyone know any large projects going elsewhere? Great that Harrison’s are successful but monopolies are generally dangerous. Do we know who got the Leeds Town Hall contract yet? Smaller firms have done good work on big rebuilds previously.

 

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H&H rebuilt Wells in 1909/ 1910 and have done much work there since.  They are clearly the chosen builder this time.  

As far as I know H&H have never worked on Norwich which was, understandably, in the care of HN&B who built it in 1938/ 1942, again with later work by them since, but I understood that H&H were in line to undertake a major restoration there.  

Winchester has been solely under H&H care since 1938.

I’m not certain of this, and subject to correction, but assume that since Brexit UK builders are no longer subject to EU procurement legislation. 

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42 minutes ago, OwenTurner said:

Are Harrison’s getting all the big jobs these days? It seems that way. Does anyone know any large projects going elsewhere? Great that Harrison’s are successful but monopolies are generally dangerous. Do we know who got the Leeds Town Hall contract yet? Smaller firms have done good work on big rebuilds previously.

 

Well,  I am no expert, but it's not long since David Wells did Guildford, and they have ongoing work, with some involvement of Henry Willis and Sons Ltd, at Liverpool Cathedral. Mander Organ Builders are doing Wimborne Minster and have recently completed St James, Sussex Gardens - a large 4-manual. Nicholsons have had some pretty large projects - St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle fairly recently, Llandaff not so long ago, and Manchester Town Hall, Radley College, the Bute Hall, St Mary's Portsea and two large London churches are all current and future projects. I suspect small firms are careful not to overreach themselves, always remembering that all this painstaking and specialised work on organs relies on very specific skills and experiences which are probably in quite short supply, but also these big jobs, surely, rely on a lot of workshop space being available and that must limit what some of the smaller firms can manage when it comes wholesale reconstruction. Am I right in thinking that some of the smaller firms tune and 'look after' some of our major instruments on a day to day basis but can't, perhaps, take on major rebuilds because they don't have the staff/space to manage them? Might they also get involved as sub contractors on some major jobs? It will be interesting to see what happens with Bristol. Leeds Town Hall details are to be announced on 19th July. Do we know who deals with running repairs etc at St Paul's Cathedral nowadays? 

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I rather suspect "colossal" refers to the acoustic volume of the proposed 32' stop, as opposed to its height.

So given that they're apparently referring to a reed, it can be mitred - as many are - and not actually require any more height than a 16'. The new "big" reed at York is an example - so as not to protrude from the top of the screen, whereas the full length of its much older brother is now clearly visible in its new placement in the aisle.

 

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11 hours ago, Martin Cooke said:

Well,  I am no expert, but it's not long since David Wells did Guildford, and they have ongoing work, with some involvement of Henry Willis and Sons Ltd, at Liverpool Cathedral. Mander Organ Builders are doing Wimborne Minster and have recently completed St James, Sussex Gardens - a large 4-manual. Nicholsons have had some pretty large projects - St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle fairly recently, Llandaff not so long ago, and Manchester Town Hall, Radley College, the Bute Hall, St Mary's Portsea and two large London churches are all current and future projects. I suspect small firms are careful not to overreach themselves, always remembering that all this painstaking and specialised work on organs relies on very specific skills and experiences which are probably in quite short supply, but also these big jobs, surely, rely on a lot of workshop space being available and that must limit what some of the smaller firms can manage when it comes wholesale reconstruction. Am I right in thinking that some of the smaller firms tune and 'look after' some of our major instruments on a day to day basis but can't, perhaps, take on major rebuilds because they don't have the staff/space to manage them? Might they also get involved as sub contractors on some major jobs? It will be interesting to see what happens with Bristol. Leeds Town Hall details are to be announced on 19th July. Do we know who deals with running repairs etc at St Paul's Cathedral nowadays? 

And I don’t want the organ world and trust fund managers to forget the magnificent Forster & Andrews/John Compton organ in cathedral-sized Hull Minster, reputed to be the UK’s largest parish church organ that has lain silent for far too long. It’s known what the cost will be from quotations received, but Hull, unlike many cathedral cities, is not a place where money is in abundance.

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Well, I realise that I concentrated solely on H&H, and Martin has redressed the balance with far more information about others and the distinguished work they are doing.  I’m not in the pay of H&H (!) but their work at Canterbury and York has been outstanding for all to see and hear.  The Willis website (and in particular their organ in New Zealand) speaks of craftsmanship of the highest order.  Among other things, we owe to David Wells that the organ in St George’s Hall, Liverpool - surely one of the very finest anywhere - is playable (albeit with an occasional hiccup) and sounding magnificent.

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5 hours ago, Barry Oakley said:

And I don’t want the organ world and trust fund managers to forget the magnificent Forster & Andrews/John Compton organ in cathedral-sized Hull Minster, reputed to be the UK’s largest parish church organ that has lain silent for far too long. 

Is it silent? I had the impression that some of it worked - I know there is an appeal!

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19 hours ago, S_L said:

Is it silent? I had the impression that some of it worked - I know there is an appeal!

Time flies so fast these days and I think it’s been silent for around three years, perhaps more. Although some running repairs were done to keep it playable – slider solenoids fitted, some bellows repaired, the Solo box engine re-leathered, the transmission system became highly unreliable and the inevitable resulted. I was horrified to learn that both cases were not sheeted during the laying of a complete new floor, adding further to the 80-plus years of accumulated dirt. And during this process I understand a major transmission cable was damaged. Internally it’s not a pretty sight. Meanwhile, a 3-manual Viscount toaster, previously used during the rebuild of Selby Abbey’s organ is acting as a substitute.

 

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On 27/06/2021 at 09:42, Barry Oakley said:

And I don’t want the organ world and trust fund managers to forget the magnificent Forster & Andrews/John Compton organ in cathedral-sized Hull Minster, reputed to be the UK’s largest parish church organ that has lain silent for far too long. It’s known what the cost will be from quotations received, but Hull, unlike many cathedral cities, is not a place where money is in abundance.

I better keep the recordings I made there a few years ago, safe and sound, just incase

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On 27/06/2021 at 11:38, Rowland Wateridge said:

The Willis website (and in particular their organ in New Zealand) speaks of craftsmanship of the highest order.

When writing the above I forgot to mention that they are to restore the small but enormously important Cavaillé-Coll/ Mutin organ at St Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough.  

For those who don’t know Farnborough Abbey, the organ sits directly behind the high altar above the Imperial Mausoleum in the crypt below containing the tombs of Napoleon III, the Empress Eugénie and their son Prince Louis. Improvisations in the French style, both as interludes in the liturgy and voluntaries, are very much a feature of the playing by their distinguished organist, Neil Wright. 

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Willis's twitter account, which can be viewed without signing up, shows that the Farnborough work is well in hand.

https://twitter.com/WillisOrgans

The nature of the Liverpool Cathedral involvement is also revealed - the restoration of the Tuba Magna including its return to the original wind pressure, no less!

I expect the end result will be very much true to HW3's intentions, and pretty spectacular, to say the least. ( Can't have the gloriously restored York Mirabilis hogging all the limelight.... )

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