The first phase of our long-planned Organ restoration will be beginning immediately after Easter. The organ-builders, Henry Groves and Son Ltd, will be taking away various parts from inside the organ, to renew and repair them in their workshop. At the same time, scaffolding will be going up over the pulpit and choir gallery, so that the cracks in the arch can be sorted out, and the whole of that area redecorated. The scaffolding will be there for several weeks, and the phase-one works should be complete by the end of April. We will then have a pause, during which we have an organ concert by Nigel Ogden on Saturday 21st May at 3 p.m, and various bicentenary events, with the phase two works beginning later in the summer.
3rd May 2016
All the replastering and redecorating work around the organ is now complete, ensuring that the area is stable and safe for the renovations to the organ itself. We are now poised to see it all with out the scaffolding...
21st May 2016
We are looking forward to an exciting afternoon of Organ Music with Nigel Ogden, who has presented 'The Organist Entertains' for 36 years on Radio 2. He tells us it will be a lively and varied programme — but the details will only be finalised when he gets his hands on our organ, and he will then select items that play to its strengths!
10th June 2016
We have now started a new phase in the works on the organ, with preliminary casework cleaning by Renatus, and the organ builders have removed some of the display pipes so they can be worked on at their workshop. Various internal parts and pipes have also been taken away for refurbishment. Fortunately the bits that are left still leave us with a playable instrument!
29th July 2016
A major piece of work by Henry Groves and Son Ltd is now in full swing, extracting the banks of internal pipes, getting them back to a pristine state, and then replacing and regulating each pipe in turn. The display pipes have all been removed and taken away for repainting in gold paint, which will give Renatus clear access to the casework for their woodwork restoration tasks.
17th August 2016
The specialist restoration of the 300+ year old wooden casework has now been completed by Renatus Ltd. The grime of ages has been cleaned back to reveal more of the intricacies and textures of the carved 'foliage', scrolls and cherubs. In addition, the 1936 fretwork of the side panels has been cleaned, with new acoustic backing cloth.
Some fragments of the intricate carvings that had become separated were carefully replaced, and one or two new infill pieces were carved, to harmonise some of the outlines. However, there are still a small selection of 'missing pieces', which you might be able to spot on the photo below. Since there is no sign of them in the organ, they may have been missing when the case arrived in 1858!
30th September 2016
At the end of September 2016 the display pipes, that make such a dramatic statement, were ready to return having been repainted with gold-coloured paint, and complement the finely carved wooden casework. The appearance from the outside is now complete ... but of course lots of the internal work, not just to pipes, but also to the air-supply chambers, electrical/electronic controls and work on repositioning the console are all still to be done.
Jonathan Wallace of the organ-builders Henry Groves and sons Ltd, manouevres one of the largest display pipes into place. Most of the display pipes were previously out of use, but the 12 huge tower pipes are to become 'speaking pipes' again
2nd October 2016
With the pipes back in place, this was a last chance to photograph Martin Briers at the console in its old location. As you can see in the matching photograph from the early 1900s, this is not the original console. Prior to 1936, when Hill Norman and Beard installed a new detached console in their cinematic design, the console was 'en fenêtre' i.e. part of the organ. Ranshall Rowe served as organist from 1867 to 1910 and oversaw many additions and improvements to the organ.
28th October 2016
Work has now begun on moving the console, which has been up above the pulpit, in the midst of the choir and organ area. The pedal board and parts of the case have been taken away to be worked on, and the rest will be following soon. In the meantime, a skilled carpenter from Brown and Kirby Ltd has neatly 'trimmed' two of our side-ways on pews, and refitted them to leave an area down at congregation level that will accommodate the console on a movable platform.
10th December 2016
The console is in its new location, and network cabling now handles all communication between the console and pipes. We have a modest subset of manuals and stops for use over Christmas.
10th February 2017
On Wednesday 8th February 2017 the last of the sets of pipes was installed in the organ. In terms of substantial works, it is now pretty much a finished item, having begun the internal renovations in June 2016. The range of stops and combinations is now complete.
Unfortunately the swell controls (which allow some of the sounds to be brought out or faded back) are still proving troublesome, and it is hoped this can be addressed soon. The new lighting has also just been delivered and will be installed in the near future.
We shall then be in a position to start planning how to enjoy and celebrate the possibilities the organ now has.
7th April 2017
All the elements of the renovation are now complete, and bar some final tuning next week, it is all finished and sounding fantastic. The swell and other software issues are resolved by various means. The lighting is installed and really brings out the lustre of the gold-coloured pipes and the intricacies of the carved casework. The carpentry work in the choir gallery is completed, re-using an existing pew and Brown and Kirby used some previously removed bits to skillfully make a second pew to match. Try and guess which is which!