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Urgent - Alexandra Palace Organ [information Only]


passion_chorale

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Today I received the following email on the BDOA mailing list.

 

Apologies to the originator for copying this here, but in view of the proximity to the "statutory deadline", the fact that this hasn't been posted here before, and with respect for the intentions of the originator, I thought this should go up.

 

Fully aware of the 'gnashing of teeth' the Ally Pally subject has caused in the past, I would just like to state that I am fully independent of the affair, have no vested interest, and that this is for information only.

 

Perhaps a few emails from this board to the charities commission would remind them of the historical importance of the organ.

 

Regards etc.

 

 

 

The Trustees of Alexandra Palace and Park Charitable Trust have signed a 125 year lease with a developer. Currently there appears to be no contractual protection of the interior of the palace, including the historic television studios, theatre, and Great Hall with its historic Henry Willis organ, or the historically important basements etc.

 

The developer, Mr. Kassam of Firoka group, has been quoted saying: "The studios are very dilapidated and not easily accessible. If the BBC don't want to throw money at it then why should they expect me to throw money at it".

 

 

His initial proposal shows the south east wing being developed into offices, fitness suite, night club and casino. Firoka has indicated that space may be available elsewhere within the Palace to recognise its TV history. These proposals highlight the complete lack of understanding of the significance of this historic space. The historic Willis organ in the Great Hall is also under threat.

 

As part of the process for disposal, under the Charity Act section 36/6, there is a statutory period for the Charity Commission to receive and consider representations. This period ends at noon on 5th January 2007.

 

You can send representations about this Order by post or by e.mail to:

 

 

 

Charity Commission Direct, PO Box 1227, Liverpool, L69 3UG.

 

<mailto:enquiries@charitycommission.gsi.gov.uk>

enquiries@charitycommission.gsi.gov.uk

 

Please quote reference number 522431.

 

 

 

 

 

>>

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I agree that there is great concern about the TV studios, and on a recent TV programme on the BBC, about them Petula Clarke and Maureen Lipman both offered support for the rention of the studios on their existing site.

the AP Trustees, apparently cannot insist on Feroka retaining the studios in the redevelopment of the palace.

Parts of the Great Hall are listed, but the Willis organ is not because it is not a permanent fixture.

No-one can forsee the thoughts of Feroka, and I suspect that they will not agree to have their hands tied on any aspects of the palace including the Theatre.

We all want to see the organ restored in its original position, but to save it, it might have to be moved elsewhere in the Palace, which is what the Earls Court syndicate were suggesting.

There is a public meeting at the Palace on the 13th and 14th January convened by the Alexandra Palace Society.

Colin Richell

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In the 1990s members of the APOA committee visited the workshop of Henry Willis and Sons, to both catalogue the pipes in store and take pictures of them. We have now placed both the list of pipes and the pictures on the web site. The list shows how many pipes of each stop still exist, some in a very bad state, and how many pipes are missing.

 

www.alexandrapalaceorgan.com

 

 

Alan Taylor

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Thank you Alan for that information. It would appear from the pictures, that it might not be possible to reuse many of the pipes in restoration, and that it would be necessary to ask an organ builder to produce brand new pipes.

I am sure that supporters of the organ would like to know that much of the restoration work would include original pipes, but because of the length of time in storage, this is obviously not possible.

How many organs have original pipe work ?

Colin Richell

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Now I admit to knowing nothing of this organ apart from what I have read on various websites and on this forum. Therefore, I am prepared to be shot down in flames. However, as far as I understand it, it appears impossible to "restore" this organ, given subsequent alterations, damage, and a vast quantity of missing pipes. In fact, a significant proportion of what is currently there is not original. In essence, I guess I'm saying is there any point? It does seem an awful lot of money to restore something which can't be restored. There do seem to be people very attached to the idea, but that's all it is - an idea which cannot practically be realised. The argument then becomes does this building require an organ at all? If not, then scrap the thing. Surely that is the most sensible way forward.

 

It reminds me of that episode of "Only Fools and Horses" in which Trigger proudly claims to have used the same brush for roadsweeping for 20 years, adding "this old broom's had 17 new heads and 14 new handles in its time".

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Now I admit to knowing nothing of this organ apart from what I have read on various websites and on this forum. Therefore, I am prepared to be shot down in flames. However, as far as I understand it, it appears impossible to "restore" this organ, given subsequent alterations, damage, and a vast quantity of missing pipes. In fact, a significant proportion of what is currently there is not original. In essence, I guess I'm saying is there any point? It does seem an awful lot of money to restore something which can't be restored. There do seem to be people very attached to the idea, but that's all it is - an idea which cannot practically be realised. The argument then becomes does this building require an organ at all? If not, then scrap the thing. Surely that is the most sensible way forward.

 

Whilst not wishing to inflame certain occasional contributors to this forum, I am of a similar opinion. Given that apparently seventeen people attended one of the more recent organ recitals (although it depends on whom one asks) I doubt that there is much enthusiasm for this clearly struggling project.

 

If the case, reservoirs and most of the pipe-work had survived it might be a different matter, save for the fact that it seems to be difficult to attract audiences to hear this instrument.

 

I do not doubt that in its heyday, the Willis organ was a superb instrument; it was certainly highly regarded by a number of renowned recitalists. However, since there are a large number of pipes missing, together with a somewhat makeshift wind system, I do wonder if there really is any point in struggling to resurrect this behemoth.

 

It only takes a cursory glance at the website to realise that there are many involved with strong opinions, who have seemingly lost sight of the objective and instead wasted time and money in squabbling amongst themselves.

 

I have to say that, given these circumstances, I can think of a few more deserving causes - which may well be more generally appreciated amongst the general public - as opposed to just the cognoscenti.

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How many organs have original pipe work ?

Colin Richell

 

Hi

 

A good number of historic organs have original pipes - for a start take a look at the instruments that BIOS have listed given an Historic Organ Certificate (the info is on NPOR).

 

A good pipe maker can work wonders with some pretty badly damaged pipes - given the time and patience. The question may be if it's better/cheaperto instal copies of the original pipes rather than repairing the old ones - that's one for the purists to ponder.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Now I admit to knowing nothing of this organ apart from what I have read on various websites and on this forum. Therefore, I am prepared to be shot down in flames. However, as far as I understand it, it appears impossible to "restore" this organ, given subsequent alterations, damage, and a vast quantity of missing pipes. In fact, a significant proportion of what is currently there is not original. In essence, I guess I'm saying is there any point? It does seem an awful lot of money to restore something which can't be restored. There do seem to be people very attached to the idea, but that's all it is - an idea which cannot practically be realised. The argument then becomes does this building require an organ at all? If not, then scrap the thing. Surely that is the most sensible way forward.

 

 

==========================

 

 

It probably went down like a lead balloon, but I have already suggested that the AP organ be donated to Poland, where it would find a ready home. There are quite a few UK-built organs over there, and with so many young Poles in the UK working their socks off, it would be a nice gesture.

 

MM

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It is similar to a steam locomotive.Many have been restored but the majority have had boilers, motion, wheels, tubes replaced, many times so how original are they ?

When I, and others have donated large sums of money to the project,. we have all wanted to believe that the majority of the organ was original (the pipes at least) and I suppose that morally we should inform potential donors. which we have achieved by

placing pictures on the web site which will show that we are being totally honest.

I do understand the opinions of some of the contributors.

Colin Richell.

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Guest Roffensis

How very tiring it is to have this dreary topic constantly brought up, with the same old drivel being tossed around, and nothing new coming from any of it.

 

It just goes on and on, round and round.

 

The logistics of the organ's restoration hinge on those in authority making decisions. Speculation is pointless, and frankly, boring.

 

Can I suggest a lock on the whole topic until someone can actually say something new?

 

R :rolleyes:

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Richard, I think on this occasion you're being a little unfair. The views expressed by Duliana and backed up by pcnd are, from my recollection, fairly new to this web site and somewhat like the emporer's new clothes - its what many of us have come to believe but nobody liked to say.

 

Regular correspondents will know that I love Willis I and Willis III organs. Living in Cheltenham I have reasonably close access, and recent playing experience, of a vast array of significant organs including those in the cathedrals and "great churches" at Worcester, Gloucester, Birmingham, Exeter, Bristol, Tewkesbury, Bath, Romsey, Lichfield, Sherborne, etc...

 

I would rate the Willis organs at Hereford and Tenbury as the equal or better of any/all of these (although I certainly rate Bristol Cathedral, St. Mary Redcliffe and Lichfield very highly too) and regard Westminster Cathedral as the finest organ in the country. I'm of the generation whose teachers extoled the virtues of the Ally Pally organ and who therefore longed for the day when it would "sing" again.

 

However it has become clear that this is just no longer feasible and never going to happen. There is no point endlessly chasing after the unobtainable so it is time to accept that, for lovers of the romantic organ, this is a lost treasure.

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Guest Lee Blick

I find the issue of Ally Pally organ very interesting indeed. It has had a very colourful history and is an example of where amateurs and professional people as well as the general public have been encouraged to participate in the development of this instrument over the decades. Roffensis may be bored, but this messageboard is one of only a few outlets were people are able to receive updates and the latest news of the situation at the Palace, as well as having the opportunity to discuss it.

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... Roffensis may be bored, but this messageboard is one of only a few outlets were people are able to receive updates and the latest news of the situation at the Palace, as well as having the opportunity to discuss it.

 

This is all well and good if there is actually something new to report. However, I wonder if it is not closer to the truth that very little has happened with regard to the restoration of this instrument for a few years now. In addition, it looks increasingly unlikely that the committee responsible for the restoration will succeed in raising the large amount of money still required.

 

What there has been, is a lot of unfortunate heated discussion, which has served little purpose, other than to allow some of us to decide to give this subject a wide berth.

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"and nothing new coming from any of it."...

 

"The logistics of the organ's restoration hinge on those in authority making decisions. Speculation is pointless, and frankly, boring...."

 

I almost agree with the point above. The future of the organ is now entwined in the negociations with the new operators and the charities commission, and there is little that we can do to influence them.

 

Everyone will recall that the original post was about emailing the charity commissioners to register a private interest. It was not about starting a heated argument. The deadline has now long passed. I'm not sure how seriously they take the representations, but it did offer an opportunity for individuals to do something positive, and to get a message to those people "in authority" who will be "making decisions" that there is still interest and hope from around the country. I believe that is called Democracy.

 

David Lucas.

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Lee Blick is absolutely right when he says that this thread allows people to air their opinions about the willis organ and why not?

It seems that the majority of contributors regard the restoration as a lost cause, because they feel that the existing organ appeal is incapable of raising any funding, and that much of the original organ has been lost.

Fair comment, but this is why I asked the question as to how many organs contained original pipe work soundboards, etc.

At least the console is original, but had the organ not been partially dismantled after the war, I wonder how much would have represented the 1875/1929 instrument, not forgetting the 1980 fire which would have destroyed the entire organ if much of it had not been stored.by Henry Willis..

There is a question as to whether Ally Pally needs a huge Willis organ, well it had three at one time, and yes we should try and save the existing instrument, even if we cannot create the original sound.

Others ask whether a restored organ will attract thousands to the Palace, and even more important, whether funding can be attracted for an essentially newly built instrument.

It is now the responsibility of the new developer Feroka, and I hope he is a fan of pipe organs !

I hope that contributors who are not bored, will contine to air their views, whatever they are.

Colin Richell.

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I almost agree with the point above. The future of the organ is now entwined in the negociations with the new operators and the charities commission, and there is little that we can do to influence them.

 

Everyone will recall that the original post was about emailing the charity commissioners to register a private interest. It was not about starting a heated argument. The deadline has now long passed. I'm not sure how seriously they take the representations, but it did offer an opportunity for individuals to do something positive if they wanted to, and to get a message to those people "in authority" who will be "making decisions" that there is still interest and hope from around the country. I believe that is called Democracy.

 

David Lucas.

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David

As you say the the original thread was about writing to the Charity Commission.

Over 200 people did in fact write, but I suspect that most were writing about the TV Studios rather than the organ.

Thank you for your sensible and serious contribution to the thread. That is the way forward.

I will keep you informed.

Colin Richell.

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Guest Barry Oakley
How very tiring it is to have this dreary topic constantly brought up, with the same old drivel being tossed around, and nothing new coming from any of it.

 

It just goes on and on, round and round.

 

The logistics of the organ's restoration hinge on those in authority making decisions. Speculation is pointless, and frankly, boring.

 

Can I suggest a lock on the whole topic until someone can actually say something new?

 

R :rolleyes:

 

I agree with you entirely. I think whoever the authorities are should take a leaf out of John Christie's book and treat it like the HN&B at Glyndebourne. There are more essential organs to be concerned about.

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  • 1 month later...
Guest Roffensis
We met the Chair of the AP Trustees on Monday evening, and the contract negotiations are apparently proceeding well, so hopefully there will be some news to report soon.

This message is for non-bored people only.

Colin Richell.

 

 

Oh.

 

Who exactly is "we" ?

 

from

 

Rivetted of the North.

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