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A couple of organs that I look after

Steve asked me about a couple of organs that I look after.

Well, where do I start?

St. Mary of Eton, Hackney Wick

This is a Walker that was rebuilt by Grant Degens and Rippin. A big two manual in an enormous church, with a barrel-vault ceiling and a four second echo. The resulting sound is just spine-tingling. It is such a pity therefore that it has 3 major dual carriageways around it, plus a railway. There are 3 rows of seats for the congregation and there is a big damp problem. The walls are starting to corrode.... into the organ.

St. Mary's Saffron Walden.

This is my home church, where I sing in the choir. It was rebuilt from a moderate Lewis by Norman and Beard into a large 3 manual in 1912. Not much of the Lewis pipework remains. It was extensively rebuilt and enlarged by HNB in 1972 into a 3 manual with 5 divisions, Great, Bombarde (loud Great), Nave, Choir and Pedal. It is certainly a mixture of sounds, as the new pipes are of the unnicked, open foot variety. 9 years ago, it was rebuilt again by David Wells, with Ian Bell as consultant. It was decided that it would be easier to control with 4 manuals and so, needing to find a set of keys with square pistons, he managed to get hold of the Solo keys from the HNB console of St. John's Cambridge (where I was a chorister at least a hundred years ago!). There are 16 and 8ft en chamade reeds, which frighten the passers-by and all told is a very exciting sound. About 7 years ago, we added three digital stops to the pedals - a 32'reed, a 16' bassoon and a big 16' Open Diapason. The reason why we had 3 was that we wanted one - the 32', but it came in a three stop module.

I am lucky that most of the organs that I look after are interesting in one way or another. The biggest one I do is Norwich Cathedral and the smallest is a 2 rank extension organ. 2 cinema organs as well!

Peter

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Re: A couple of organs that I look after

Does anyting of the Walker sound remain at Hackney Wick, Peter? I would guess that with a firm like Grant, Degens and Rippin the rebuild was fairly radical?

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Re: A couple of organs that I look after

I knew you'd have some tales to tell!

Somehow I managed to get steered away from Norwich Cathedral on a recent weekend away. My wife's not too keen on 'organ-spotting' so sadly I got towed around the shops instead and we never made it to the cathedral.

If Saffron Walden is your local did you know Geoff Turner who was with HN&B at Thaxted and lived in Saffron Walden? We were trainees at Osmonds together briefly. I believe the last job he did for the firm was to re-piece the Norwich Cathedral pedalboard. If you ever take it apart, he tells me he marked each key with 'G.T's last pedalboard'


Steve

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Re: A couple of organs that I look after

"St. Mary's Saffron Walden.

This is my home church, where I sing in the choir. It was rebuilt from a moderate Lewis by Norman and Beard into a large 3 manual in 1912. Not much of the Lewis pipework remains. It was extensively rebuilt and enlarged by HNB in 1972 into a 3 manual with 5 divisions, Great, Bombarde (loud Great), Nave, Choir and Pedal. It is certainly a mixture of sounds, as the new pipes are of the unnicked, open foot variety. 9 years ago, it was rebuilt again by David Wells, with Ian Bell as consultant. It was decided that it would be easier to control with 4 manuals and so, needing to find a set of keys with square pistons, he managed to get hold of the Solo keys from the HNB console of St. John's Cambridge (where I was a chorister at least a hundred years ago!). There are 16 and 8ft en chamade reeds, which frighten the passers-by and all told is a very exciting sound. About 7 years ago, we added three digital stops to the pedals - a 32'reed, a 16' bassoon and a big 16' Open Diapason. The reason why we had 3 was that we wanted one - the 32', but it came in a three stop module."

This is an instrument in which I have been interested for some time. Do you happen to know if there are any photographs available, particularly of the console, please?

Re: A couple of organs that I look after

"If Saffron Walden is your local did you know Geoff Turner who was with HN&B at Thaxted and lived in Saffron Walden? We were trainees at Osmonds together briefly. I believe the last job he did for the firm was to re-piece the Norwich Cathedral pedalboard. If you ever take it apart, he tells me he marked each key with 'G.T's last pedalboard'"

Geoff was known as the Pedal Board King. I wouldnt like to guess how many he repieced in his time. When he was made redundant in about 1997, I urged him to carry on in the trade as his work was very good. He took his time over whatever he was doing and always turned out a first class job. He didnt want to carry on, so worked locally in a sandpaper factory and then when they relocated to Yorkshire, went there with them.

PCND, you ask about photos of the Saffron Walden organ. I have some, but you can get an idea from here:
http://www.stmaryssaffronwalden.org/st_mary's_music_association.htm
I can email a better console picture. I also have some recordings.

Peter

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Re: A couple of organs that I look after

"PCND, you ask about photos of the Saffron Walden organ. I have some, but you can get an idea from here:
http://www.stmaryssaffronwalden.org/st_mary's_music_association.htm
I can email a better console picture. I also have some recordings.

Peter"

Thank you for this information, Peter.

I shall check the link when I get home tonight.

Re: A couple of organs that I look after

Geoff was known as the Pedal Board King. I wouldnt like to guess how many he repieced in his time. When he was made redundant in about 1997, I urged him to carry on in the trade as his work was very good. He took his time over whatever he was doing and always turned out a first class job. He didnt want to carry on, so worked locally in a sandpaper factory and then when they relocated to Yorkshire, went there with them.

I met up with Geoff in Ipswich just after his redundancy, and myself and two chaps from Bishops tried our best to persuade him that he should be back in the trade. He was happy making sanding belts though, and he seems to have settled in well in Yorkshire. We are still in touch from time to time. A very consciencious organ builder, and a born enthusiast!

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