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New Organ For London Bridge Station


Choir Man
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I can't find much info online, but a few Twitter messages have informed me that London Bridge Station now has a pipe organ. Similar to public pianos that are now available at many stations, the organ will be available to any member of the public that wishes to play.

I do know that the organ has been placed there by a group called Pipe Up For Pipe Organs. Some photos are available here: https://newslicensing.co.uk/groupitem/59738/


 

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Marvellous!    Hope some footage gets onto YT.  The acoustic should be" interesting "

Have heard some people playing the piano at Euston both live and on YT and most of them have been pretty good if one makes allowances for all the background activity.

This is one good way of getting the organ out of its traditional,dusty, fusty setting and bringing it to life for hopefully, a new, young, appreciative audience.

Hopefully more instruments will appear in similar venues.

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I can shed some light, if I may....    The mover and shaker behind this is Martin Renshaw, Organ Builder.  He has also been instrumental in setting up a new Charity, Pipeup4Pipe organs    https://www.pipe-up.org.uk/     whose aims include "getting the organ out of its traditional,dusty, fusty setting and bringing it to life for hopefully, a new, young, appreciative audience" ...to quote Adnosad.  I'm one of the Trustees.  The photos which Choir Man found were taken by a Times photographer and one was used to illustrate an article last Saturday (p38).  The whole project has attracted a lot of interest, e.g. from Anna Lapwood   on her Facebook  page.  Martin has led a team of volunteers who have assembled the instrument, and it's been tuned.   It is not currently available to the general public, as it needs to be inspected by the Station security team, who may want some of its nooks and crannies blanked off or covered with mesh.  The station electrician has to fit the 10 minute timer on the blower power supply. (This will be the only electrically blown organ in the world where you need never worry whether you turned the blower off!)   That's all going to happen next week, and the wraps are due to come off completely on Monday August 1st.  The organ is in Stainer Street (South) which is a former Public Road running through a vault under the platforms which has become part of the station concourse following the reconstruction of the station a few years ago.  Once this has been established as a successful venture,  the idea is to look for other venues.......

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Brilliant! thanks for that.

The concept of a chamber organ in such a location is superb.  I understand the necessity for H&S to clear it ( points made on this in another reply )

These instruments are perfect for use in such an environment due to their relative ease of portability.

I suppose the ultimate example of such a concept would be Wanamaker / Maceys?   The thought of a larger instrument in, say St. Pancras / Kings Cross  would be quite mindblowing, especially if they came with the gothic casework.    These machines would look far more at home in such a setting than being stuck away from sight in dusty old ecclesiastical building which most of them occupy at the present.    There is also the certainty that they, and the music provided would come to the attention of a newer, and more importantly, larger audience.

Finallly, whilst I still support the aesthetics of the pipe organ I have to admit I have one foot in the 21st cy and would suggest that a large digital machine installed in one of the above would be equally successful ( IMHO that is of course! )

I`ll get my coat.

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5 hours ago, Adnosad said:

Finallly, whilst I still support the aesthetics of the pipe organ I have to admit I have one foot in the 21st cy and would suggest that a large digital machine installed in one of the above would be equally successful ( IMHO that is of course! )

But this is all about preservation of pipe organs and bringing their plight to wider attention so I don't think the idea of installing a large digital organ in public places like this is likely to happen. And surely, in a major place like a railway station a digital wouldn't have the curiosity value that even a smallish pipe organ would have. 

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I can imagine the reaction of travellers to the sound of a very large organ being played in Kings Cross  or Paddington when the final movement of Guilmant 1 overwhelms the announcement for the 12.30 to York or Plymouth respectively. I can also imagine the reaction of organs fans when the final movement of Guilmant 1 is halted to allow the announcements. 🙂

The portable organ in St Pancras is a brilliant idea, properly sited and clearly not so as loud as to be intrusive.

PS When they've finished with it, it would appear to be an excellent replacement for the failing instrument in my church. Postcode available on request...

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Do send me a private message, Mr Handsoff.  The London Bridge installation is intended (by Pipe Up 4 Pipe Organs, at least) to be permanent but part of the bigger picture that we're trying to address is that "there are plenty more where this came from..."    so perhaps we could find you another similar one.....

There are several in store at the moment, and the storage landlord is threatening to give us notice, so we are also looking for temporary storage space.  All suggestions/leads welcome

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24 minutes ago, mrbouffant said:

I'd be afraid to play it, lest somebody steals my shoes whilst halfway thru a Bach fugue.

Don't be afraid, Mr Bouffant.  There are security cameras everywhere, and one directly above the organ.  Martin had to mitre bottom C on the Bourdon to avoid having to move the camera.  

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15 hours ago, Martin Cooke said:

But this is all about preservation of pipe organs and bringing their plight to wider attention so I don't think the idea of installing a large digital organ in public places like this is likely to happen. And surely, in a major place like a railway station a digital wouldn't have the curiosity value that even a smallish pipe organ would have. 

Correct, Martin.  This particular campaign is not about digital organs.

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37 minutes ago, Robert Bowles said:

Correct, Martin.  This particular campaign is not about digital organs.

I think it's a genuinely brilliant idea which may do a lot in increase interest in the organ not just in terms of players but in general terms. I am sure Robert and Martin and the others involved have thought of this, but I wonder if there is any scope for installation in state schools. Viscount organs are doing wonderful work in association with folk like Tom Daggett and Anna Lapwood and others to get digital organs into schools, but, actually, if we're talking about housing just small pipe organs of one or two manuals and a handful or two of stops which might be being placed in schools chiefly for interest-raising and practice purposes, they could be very valuable in raising the organ's game. And it doesn't take a genius to imagine that a young person might then say to themselves, "Hang on a moment, I wonder where there are other instruments like this?"... and, thus, a new generation becomes inspired. But all the instruments need, to my mind, to look as smart, colourful and attractive as this little one at Euston. It's not hard to imagine people like Tom D, Anna L and some of the other leading lights in choir and organ fields championing this.

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How appropriate that its current location is Stainer Street, London Bridge.  Its much older namesake in St Paul’s, otherwise the ‘Willis on Wheels’, has inspired generations of a small organ’s capabilities.  But the London Bridge one seems to have emigrated to St Pancras (handsoff) and now Euston (Martin) - unless these instruments are future additions?

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There is massive interest in and support for this project.  It has recently been quite difficult to get any work done as passers by keep dropping in and saying hello!  Anna Lapwood has posted a video and made very supportive comments on her Website and Facebook page. I've told Tom Daggett that "we're putting an organ on London Bridge Station.  He, quite understandably , assumed it was a digital organ, and was amazed and enthused when I said it was a Pipe Organ.  He's having a think....

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23 hours ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

How appropriate that its current location is Stainer Street, London Bridge.  Its much older namesake in St Paul’s, otherwise the ‘Willis on Wheels’, has inspired generations of a small organ’s capabilities.  But the London Bridge one seems to have emigrated to St Pancras (handsoff) and now Euston (Martin) - unless these instruments are future additions?

I'd forgotten that the Willis on Wheels is, more formally, the Stainer Organ.  Martin and I both remember that from our days at St Paul's, before Manders reconstructed it and gave it a case. In its previous case-less incarnation it was so compact that it would (only just) fit through the gates to the north Quire Aisle, were it was parked in a bay which it shared with stepladders and the machines for cleaning the floor.   I punches way above its weight, and was wheeled out under the dome for about 6 months in about 1961 and accompanied all the services while the main organ was being overhauled.     

I did think about suggesting the London Bridge organ should be on wheels, but that isn't really practicable since the floor slopes.  Only about 1:80 - but that's enough to require shims under one side.

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We corresponded on an earlier thread about the ‘Willis on Wheels’ and my recollections of Harry Gabb and Richard Popplewell playing during the ‘interregnum’ of the Grand Organ (surely the correct and appropriate name, in that case) while Willis were working on it.  1961 sounds right, but I thought it was out of action for much longer than six months, as I clearly remember the Maurice Greene Rogationtide anthem “Thou visitest the earth” more than once during that period; maybe it was a favourite which was repeated ‘out of season’.  My hazy recollection is that the work stretched into a second year, but you are better placed to remember the details.  My visits certainly included winter months when I recall buying hot chestnuts in the street on the way home (via London Bridge station) after the 6.30 pm Evensong!

I have often wondered whether the case added by Mander - admittedly a vast visual improvement - altered the tonal effect of the ‘Willis on Wheels’ (or its decibel output!).  It was remarkably effective in its original form.  I have never heard it ‘live’ since to be able to make the comparison.

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5 hours ago, Robert Bowles said:

In its previous case-less incarnation it was so compact that it would (only just) fit through the gates to the north Quire Aisle, were it was parked in a bay which it shared with stepladders and the machines for cleaning the floor. It punches way above its weight, and was wheeled out under the dome for about 6 months in about 1961 and accompanied all the services while the main organ was being overhauled.     

I'm pretty sure the repair work on the grand organ started in 1960. By the time I arrived at St Paul's in 1965, the W-o-W had moved semi-permanently to the North Transept where it could be seen if one looked across diagonally from Decani. The player facing West. One afternoon, I remember looking across that way during Evensong and saw that a warning light was on indicating that the blower was running. Immediately behind me in the stalls at the time was Andrew Pearmain an alto Vicar Choral who was an FRCO, and after the service I noticed that he made his way over there to investigate. I never heard it played whilst I was a chorister. 

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