• 1935 Wurlitzer pipe organ of the Blackpool Tower Ballroom

    In winter of 2024, as part of our maintenance schedule for the 1935 Wurlitzer pipe organ of the Tower Ballroom Blackpool, we accomplished quite a major piece of restoration. The organ at the Tower is played several hours per day during the season, and played just about every day that the ballroom is open to the public. This means any access for maintenance is strictly limited to the month of January each year.


    The bellows (regulator) leather in the organ dates from a period when sheepskin had a specific tanning method which, unfortunately, shortened the useful life of the leather. Therefore, the work we undertook was based around the need to re-leather the four wind regulators of the Main chamber (the organ has three chambers, hidden behind the cross-hatch lattice plasterwork directly above the stage in the Ballroom). Several other small projects then took place in conjunction with this: because access in this chamber is particularly tight, we undertook to renew the primary valves of all of the manual chests in that chamber whilst the regulators were not in place. That’s more than 600 valves. Along with this work, we restored the two off-note chests of the 16’ Tuba pipes. This needed doing for two reasons: the felt used in the last rebuilding of these chests was not adequate, and the notes had a loud ‘clack’ as each note came on; and secondly…. It was impossible to remove the regulators from the chamber without removing these pipes and chests, so it seemed like the only sensible course of action to restore these, as they would be out anyway.


    The organ was substantially overhauled at the end of the 1970s, and beginning of the 80’s, working in only winter break each year. The entire project was spread over four years. J.W. Walker did the work, and it was far-reaching. The electro-pneumatic relay was replaced with a SSL Diode matrix system, and all of the leather in the organ was replaced. Much the restoration work of this era by most organ builders was not as sympathetic as we might be today; much of the leather in the organ has been replaced with rubber cloth of sorts (still working reasonably well), and most leather gasket material has been replaced with cork, in typical Walker style of the time. Almost all of the organ’s magnets were also renewed; unfortunately with units we cannot get replacements, or spares, for. Ironically, Wurlitzer replacement magnets are available readily nowadays.


    The restoration work we have carried out is along Wurlitzer lines, with regulators leathered by David Roberts organ builders in Seaham. He has experience of doing these units, and has applied the necessary webbing tapes and internal gussets as was Wurlitzer practice. The new valves we made up for the chests are all assembled as Wurlitzer did. Unfortunately, we did not have time to replace the magnets for Wurlitzer units, as the apertures in the timber, in which the magnets fit, have been enlarged to take the replacement magnets, and so, a little more work than we had time for is required to return those chests to being completely restored.


    The organ was playing again in time for the winter weekend opening in February.


    The organ is unusual, perhaps because it is provincial and largely anonymous.  It looks as if it is based round a very small late Georgian chamber organ, of which the wind chest, keyboard and many of the pipes survive.   They do not really fit together.  The keys may originally have been GG C AA – e³, a compass used between about 1740 and 1790 (perhaps secondhand).  The wind chest looks as if it was made by a good craftsman who was not trained to make organs.  Its original compass was C D to e³.  There is a large number of 18th century pipes, all of one date, which look older than the chest and keys, well-made, perhaps also secondhand, from the middle of the 18th century.  The much-altered support structure dates from the same period as the wind chest.


    The organ came to the church from Ty Mawr, a large house in the village in 1910.  It is possible that the rebuilding of the organ dates from this time, though it looks earlier (including the pipe front).  From this time date the Open Diapason and the Stop Diapason bass and treble (a rather roughly-made wooden stop).  Also the bellows and stop action.


    The Pedal wind chest, pipes, keys and action are later, perhaps from 1942, since they have a trade quality and standard which the rest lacks.  There is an inscription on the pallet thumper rail: Ingram & Co/ Hereford/ Dec 1942.  The wind chest may have been restored at this date, the case given a black-japanned finish (similar to pianos of the period) and the woodwork round the keyboard stripped.


    The stoplist is as follows:

    Fifteenth2 feetPrincipal4 feet
    Stopd Diap Bass8 feetStopd Diap Treble8 feet
    Open Diapason8 feetDulciana8 feet
    Manual to PedalsGrand Bourdon16 feet


    The manual compass is C – e³, the pedal compass is C – c¹.


    The organ was dismantled by Derrick Carrington to allow treatment to the floor beneath the organ, in 2018.  It was restored by Abigail and Rob Balfour Rowley, Chris Davies and Dominic Gwynn during 2021 and 2022.  The restorers only saw the organ in pieces, rather haphazardly stored, so piecing the parts together provided a challenge.  It was also challenging to restore an organ which was originally not consistently and professionally made.  Nonetheless, restoration has repaid the faith put in the organ by the incumbent, the Revd. Jeremy Bevan.  It is an organ which may well have been made in the area, perhaps by a talented musical instrument maker or amateur craftsman.

    The pictures show an evensong  held to celebrate the reconstruction of the instrument, with the organ featuring in the background.



    The organ was made by John Snetzler in 1755-6 (according to his usual paper label in the back of the pallet box).  The ‘1756’ started as ‘1755’, but the gap in the 5 was closed to make a 6.  There is no indication of the original owner.  In the 1880s the organ was restored and sent by T.R.Willis, organ builder in the Minories, London to Robert Shearing, a chemist in Chester (according to a parcel label now framed inside the organ).  In 1909 it was “reconditioned” by the organ builder Henry Poyser for himself according to an inscription under the keys, having been bought by his father.  In 1958 Noel Mander bought it from Henry Poyser, restored it and sold it to the Barber Institute, on the initiative of Professor Ivor Keys.


    The case, layout, windchest, keys and key action are all in the style of Snetzler’s earlier chamber organs, from before ca1760 (see Barnes and Renshaw’s book on Snetzler).  The pipe front has the characteristic V-shaped toeboards and pipe shades, with the larger pipes at the sides and the smallest in the middle.  The front pipes are gilded metal dummies, and there are glass doors.  The wind chest projects from the front of the case, with the keys lying on it, enclosed in a mahogany box.


    There are six stops: St Diapason, Dulciama (TC), Principal, Flute, Fifteenth and Sesquialtra/Cornett.  The Sesquialtra/Cornett is II rank, divided c¹/c#¹, GG 12.17, aº 17.19, c#¹ 19.22.  Apart from seven cº – f#º pipes the Dulciama was replaced by larger scale pipes in the 1880s.


    The key compass is GG – f³ 58 notes.  There is a shifting movement pedal, reducing to Stop Diapason, Dulciana and Flute.  There is a blowing pedal in the centre, there was another pedal at the treble side, and an electric blower introduced in 1958.


    Apart from the 1880s pipes, there was also a new keyboard made from late 19th century keys by Henry Poyser, with new woodwork around it and the projecting wind chest.  The keys were on a new frame, so that the stickers resting on the pallets had to be lengthened.  The keys must always have had a tendency to stick.  Modifications were introduced in 1958, but without improvements, so a new keyboard was made in Snetzler’s original style, copied from the keys in the Bristol New Room, a Snetzler organ of 1761 in the same early style.  The keys are hinged with parchment just behind the overlays, ebony naturals and ebonised fruitwood sharps with ivory tops, laid on brass stickers resting on the pallets.  The windchest must have suffered from the dry summers of the 1970s, or from the central heating, and was restored by Harold Newman of Manders in 1978, well done.


    The 2021-2 restoration was carried out by Chris Davies and Dominic Gwynn, with voicing and tuning by Rob Balfour Rowley.  Apart from the new keys, the wind system was made wind tight.  The organ could not be blown by foot without destroying the floorboards, so a new frame was made, which also provided the support for new rollers and an extension to the (1880s?) pine plinth.  The alterations to the casework were left undisturbed, though the finish and the red silk backing to the pipe shades are 1958.




    In 2022 we moved a most attractive T.C Bates organ from St Paul Whatley near Frome Somerset three miles south to St Mary Cloford.  Its history was dug out by Paul Tindall, to whom many thanks.  It was made for John Sinkins of Wallbridge House Frome (1805-69), according to a list of Bates organs.  He was a draper and J.P., who founded the Frome Literary and Scientific Institution, now the Museum.  He was already resident at Wallbridge House in 1841, and presumably bought the organ shortly afterwards.  A watercolour of the staircase hall shows the organ towards the end of the 19th century (Frome Museum collection).  His widow Eliza was still there in 1881 and died in 1891, which is presumably when their son Colonel Sinkins sold up and disposed of the organ to Whatley.  In 2022 the congregation at Whatley decided to turn their church into a community hub, and the organ was moved to Cloford on the initiative of churchwarden Richard Mawer.


    The stoplist is as follows: Open Diapason TC, Stopt Diapason bass, Clarabella TC, Dulciana TC, Principal, Wald Flute (octave Clarabella), Fifteenth, Pedal Bourdon (C – cº).  There are two couplers: Manual to Pedals, Manual Octave.  There is a Hitch-down swell pedal.  The key compass is C – f³ 54, and C – fº 18.  The pitch is 435Hz at 13ºC (tuning slides have been fitted but the original pitch was probably similar).  The wind pressure is 68mm.


    There were alterations, evidently made by the Bates workshop at the purchaser’s request.  The whole organ was enclosed to make a swell box, with some difficulty.  A rank of upperwork had to be sacrificed as a result.  A Double Diapason was exchanged for a Dulciana, the lowest octave on rather complicated pneumatics.  A Double Diapason would have made sense of a pedalboard with 18 notes, when the Pedal Bourdon only had 13 notes.


    The organ was evidently moved to Whatley by H.J.Prosser of Frome.  In the last 20 or 30 years the roof over the organ leaked and the windchest was restored, not very well, but adequately.  The pulldowns for the key action at the back of the wind chest and the octave coupler at the front were replaced without care and attention, which proved a problem when re-connecting and adjusting in 2022.  During installation in 2022 the Pedal wind chest was brought 125mm closer to the organ, to fit the space, with a new square beam for the angled squares.  The blower hung from above, but the cast mountings had broken.  New ones were made by Joe Marsden.  The front walls of the Clarabella had fallen off in the damp, and were replaced.  The bellows inlet valve hinges were nailed but the nails were corroded and the valves had come adrift; they were glued and the hinge strips screwed.  The console was made to be dismantled for access, but had been altered so that it was loose but inaccessible.  The stop jambs are now fixed in place, and it is possible to remove the music desk.


    Otherwise the organ was cleaned and adjusted during re-assembly, by Chris Davies and Dominic Gwynn, and by former colleague Joseph Marsden, and Pete Thomasson.  The casework is being restored by Bill Hewitt.  A number of the composition crockets and panel mouldings have fallen off, and will be put back or replaced.  The surface paintwork and gilding will be cleaned and touched in.






    This organ was built in the 1890s and was housed in the three-abreast gallopers on the sea front at Mablethorpe Lincolnshire, owned at the time by the Gray family.  These instruments were built to represent a medium-sized orchestra, the main sounds being trombones, saxophones, violins, clarinets and piccolos.  The opulent decoration and the gaudy colours, like the interiors of the musical theatre and gin palaces, were designed to attract the newly-leisured lower classes, a mirror to the luxury of the rich.


    It was purchased in the 1960s in very poor condition and restored by former Chiappa employee M. Rooney.  Chiappa were Britain’s main importer and manufacturer of mechanical instruments throughout the 1800s and 1900s.  They are still trading today, making punched cardboard music from their works in Eyre St Hill, London.  The organ is now owned by the Bishton family of showmen, who still use the organ for its original purpose, which is to attract custom to their ‘old-time’ vintage fair.  The website for their funfairs is


    The organ has undergone major mechanical and pipe restoration in the Goetze & Gwynn workshop under the supervision of Stuart Dobbs whose background and interest are in this type of instrument.


    The organ was built by “BATES & SON, Organ Builders, 6 Ludgate Hill, LONDON” according to a painted label above the keys.  According to the online DBOB this name was used by the firm between 1859 and 1864, when T.C Bates died.  The organ was purchased in 1996 from a private collector and restored by John Budgen.  It is an unusual organ, with a dumb organist behind the keyboard panel, which can be removed and the barrel brought forward over the keys.  The second barrel is now missing.  A description and recordings of each tune are available online by Maggie Kilbey & Marcel Glover on the excellent website


    There are three stops: Stop Diapason Bass 8ft, Open Diapason TC 8ft, Clarabella TC 8ft, Principal 4ft.  The key compass is C to f³ 54 keys.  There are 13 pedal keys.  There is an electric blower, a composition pedal, and a hitch-down swell pedal.


    The organ was partly restored, in response to ciphers.  It was dismantled and the wind chest removed.  The ciphers were the result of the 1996 pallet springs being corroded in contact with the American yellow pine, which can be highly corrosive.  The lower 24 pallets had been restored with thick red felt and leather, whose thickness meant the pallets could hardly open.  It was replaced with a double layer of leather, and all 54 pallet springs with new stainless steel springs.  It would have been prudent to restore the wind chest completely, as clods of chalk whiting came loose during transport and caused more ciphers, but the organ works well now.  The repair was initiated by Charles Watson at Lillington, near Sherborne in Dorset, and carried out by Dominic Gwynn in December 2021.




    The organ was made by Peter Conacher & Co. of Springwood, Huddersfield, a Scot who established a very successful company making organs of medium to large size and of a fairly standardized specification and style, for churches and chapels throughout these islands and overseas.  His organs were particularly popular with nonconformist chapels, in this case the Welsh-speaking Congregational Chapel Capel Zoar.  They are comparatively classical and straightforward for their date, with a robust sound.  It is surprising that the history of the two Conacher firms has never been properly researched and published, apart from Laurence Elvin’s somewhat unreliable account.  This organ was made in 1890, according to an inscription in the organ and the chapel archives.  It has Conacher’s no. 805.

    Double Diapason16Violin Diapason8Open Diapason16
    Open Diapason8Rohr Gedact8Bourdon16
    Stopped Diapason8Voix Celestes8
    Harmonic Flute4Piccolo2Couplers
    Fifteenth2SesquialteraIIISwell to Pedal
    MixtureIIICornopean8Swell to Great
    Trumpet8Oboe8Great to Pedal
    Great MixtureIIIIII
    Swell SesquialteraIIIIII


    The manual key compass is C – g³, and the Pedal C – f¹.


    3 combination pedals to Great

    2 combination pedals to Swell

    Hitch-down swell pedal


    The pitch is slightly flat to A440 (a¹ = 437.7Hz @ 17.3ºC).

    The tuning is equal temperament.

    The wind pressure is 75.5mm.  The wind is supplied by hand pump, water engine and electric blower.


    The organ is essentially in original condition.  The only changes to the specification were made in 1935, with the addition of two stops (Violone 8ft and Bass Flute 8ft) to the Pedal organ, partly by extension.  Also a Tremulant in the Swell.  The original mechanical key and stop action for the Pedal were replaced with pneumatic action, and a new pedalboard provided.  The original hitch-down swell pedal was replaced with a balanced pedal in 1935.  The water engine was disconnected and the electric blower provided in 1959.   In fairly recent years tuning slides were provided.  The chapel closed in 2009, but was bought in 2011 by Canolfan a Menter Gymraeg Merthyr Tudful and developed as a centre for performing arts and community activities.


    In 2020-21 the organ was completely restored with new leather throughout, and the organ was returned to its 1890 state.  The water engine was still in position on the floor of the bellows room.  The one alteration which could not be reversed was the insertion of a floor between the galleries of the chapel, to make a room on the ground floor, and a performance space at gallery level, which affects both the view and the acoustics.  Originally the console was behind the elevated reading desk, now a landing.


    The organ is unusual for being on three if not four levels, bellows room at ground level, mechanism at console level, Great and Pedal organs above and the Swell organ above that.  The corner posts for the support frame are 20ft 2ins (615cm) long, so it was decided to leave the structure in place and remove the bellows, wind chests, key and stop actions, swell box and mechanism, etc. for restoration in the workshop.


    The main interventions of the restoration were to the Pedal organ mechanism, the console and the wind system.  For the Pedal organ the mechanical key action was restored, with new pallets, pulldowns and rollerboards, a turning machine to take the action through 90º, and a new straight but concave pedalboard in the Peter Conacher style.  There were traces of the original mechanism on the support structure, and some of the original parts of the pedal key and stop actions had been left under the console floor.  The Pedal stops operate ventils inside the upper reservoir.  The changes to the Pedal organ had meant changes to the console, which were reversed to accommodate the new pedalboard, the new hitchdown swell pedal on the treble side of the recess, and the combination action.  The water engine was restored by James Richardson-Jones of the Duplex Pipe Organ and Blowing Co.  The electric blower was restored, the hand blowing mechanism was reconstructed using original parts found under the console, and the two reservoirs restored to their original condition.


    The organ was opened on September 23rd 2023 with a varied concert.  The organ was played by the musical advisor, Dr William Reynolds.  Management for the project was delivered by David Jones, and the project was inspired by the Chief Officer Lisbeth McLean



    In 2019-2020 we restored the 1870 T.C.Lewis organ in the church of St Peter Vauxhall on the south bank of the Thames opposite Westminster. It was then a poor area with an ambitious priest, the Revd. Robert Gregory, who set up educational facilities, employment opportunities and churches, including this one by the celebrated Victorian architect J.L.Pearson. The church was dedicated in 1864. The organ bears the date 1870, and was hired till bought in 1873. It had a case designed by E.F.Bentley, who designed most of his organ cases for Lewis. The congregation were treated to “hearty congregational services …which are not such as to attract strangers from a distance, but suited to the needs of the parishioners”, using Hymns Ancient and Modern, as well as Gregorian Plain Song and Helmore’s Psalter and Hymnal Noted. The organ was no doubt a model organ for a limited ceiling height, available for hiring at a modest cost, for accompanying a choir rather than a congregation, but the full tone of Lewis’s organ and the acoustic at St Peters help to send the sound ringing round the church.

    It has never really been restored, though works were carried out by the organist and volunteers around 1970, removing the swell box and carrying out some cleaning, and the chests were restored somewhat unsympathetically presumably by an organbuilder. The swell box has not been replaced. It is curiously at the front of the organ facing backwards, so that the effectiveness of both the Swell pipes and the Great pipes would have been compromised. On the other hand the organ does get dirty. It is also curious that the case front consists of a row of dummy spotted metal pipes, which must have cost a lot in the context of this small organ.

    Great Organ

    Open Diapason8
    Salicional (cº-g³)8
    Lieblich Gedact8
    Octave 4

    Swell Organ

    Lieblich Gedact8
    Gamba 8

    Pedal Organ


    Great to Pedal
    Swell to Pedal
    Swell to Great

    Two composition pedals

    The lever swell pedal has been removed. The manual key compass is C – f³ 54 noted, the pedal C – f¹ 30 notes. The pitch is A = 446 @19ºC, the tuning Equal Temperament.

    The organ had been supplied with an electric blower despite which the flexible trunks between the top leaf of the bellows reservoir and the wind chests had torn, and the wind leaks were considerable. The blower was very noisy, and was repaired in the workshop with a new motor from James Richardson Jones. The bottom pallets were originally split (with piggy-back pallets) to break the pluck and reduce the weight of the key touch. The pallets had been re-covered with felt and leather, presumably around 1970, and were no longer split. All the leather, of bellows, trunks and wind chests has been replaced with new leather. The pedal key action has large rollers at 45º taking the action through 90º from the pedalboard to the chest on the treble side. It was so corroded some of the rollers hardly moved. The pedal couplers had also ceased to operate, so that the stickers fell out. All that has been restored. The pipework has suffered from the effects on the voicing and tuning of the dust and dirt, and needed restoration in the pipe shop, as well as to the voicing. New dummy front pipes were made for the treble side by Joe Marsden and the characteristic black lacquer finish restored by Nick Hagen.

    Viridor Credits and The ON Organ fund provided grants for the organ restoration.


    This is a new organ made in imitation of German positive organs of around 1700, for Dr Christopher Kent in 2019-20. It is based on the organ which we restored for Alan Rubin in 2014, which was made in around 1730 probably in Salzburg. It is a standard German positive organ of its period, rather old-fashioned, not least in its short octave.

    Surprisingly little has been written about these small German organs, though a number survive from the Nürnberg Stadtorgelmacher, whose work was exhibited at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in 1995, and written about by Jürgen-Peter Schindler. There is also the published work of Theodor Wohnhaas and Hermann Fischer, which catalogues surviving positive organs in Franken and Bavaria, though it does not help the outsider to classify their origin or their makers, or appreciate what they were originally used for. One can imagine a scholar-musician like Christopher Kent studying a wide repertoire of music on such an organ in the years around 1700.

    It is typical for having three different sound qualities in a small organ, stopped wood 8ft and 4ft flutes, open metal 2ft in the front and a regal in the front, the width of each pipe more or less the same scale as the keys, as they would have been in the instrument known as the regals. This regal is based on Brussels Musical Instrument Museum MI 1130, which was made in 1676 by a German maker for an Italian. We copied it for the reconstruction of the 1579 claviorgan by Lodovicus Theewes in the V&A museum (now at Oberlin College Ohio).

    Coppel 8ft (stopped wood)
    Flöte4ft(stopped wood)
    Octav 2ft(open metal F – e¹ in front)
    Regal8ft(in front of the front pipes, for tuning)

    Key compass C/E short octave – c³ 45 notes

    Pitch: A440
    Tuning: sixth comma meantone (known as Silbermann’s tuning)

    The organ comes in two halves. It is 165cm tall (5ft 5ins), 92cm wide (3ft) and 60cm deep (2ft).


    The harmonium is attributed to H. Christophe and Etienne, 1860s. It has a rosewood case, 101cm high, 118cm wide and 60cm deep. The instrument itself is meticulously made. There are four rows of reeds, 244 altogether. The key compass is C – c4.

    The whole instrument was cleaned throughout, including the keyboard and the 120 leathered pallets. The interior was treated liberally with woodworm fluid. There were various repairs made. The right pumping pedal remade using existing timber and new beech, a new heel strip fashioned from brass and beech, the brass ‘aged’ with Liberon patination fluid. New straps were supplied between the pedals and the bellows levers. The levers were corroded and needed freeing. The two (bass and treble) ‘forte’ stops refitted, and the metal rollers within the reed chest have been lubricated very sparingly with clock oil. The knee lever for the ‘Grand Jeu’ was an iron roller with a brass arm, which had fractured, the fracture repaired using a silver solder joint. The case had loose veneers, re-glued using animal glue. Minor blemishes were ‘touched in’ with wood stain.


    The organ was built c.1840 in the manner of J.C.Bishop, but using much of an organ of about 1800. The windchest, keyboard frame, rollerboard, Stopped Diapason, Principal, Flute and Fifteenth are of this date. The keys themselves are stamped ‘W.LOWE & SON’. The Open Diapason and Dulciana date from 1915, Martin & Coates of Oxford. The pedalboard, though old, is a later insertion since its position is incompatible with the original pumping pedal whose hole in the plinth is still there. The ‘cuckoo’ feeders to the bellows are also incompatible with this old foot-pumping mechanism. Probably the bellows too are a later replacement. The windchest has had only minor alterations. The pallets were re-covered with felt and leather in 1979.

    It was probably a domestic instrument, but its first record is at Bicester URC, Oxfordshire. It was given to the Rev. T Graeme Longmuir and then went to Christ Church URC in Morecambe, and in 2019 was rescued by the Revd Michael Childs and moved to St Barnabas. It was restored by George Sixsmith for Morecambe URC in 1979. Edward Bennett restored it for St Barnabas in 2019. The case was restored by Nick Hagen.

    Open Diapason8gº - f³
    Stop Diapason Bass 8GG – f#º
    Stop Diapason8gº - f³
    Dulciana8cº - f³
    Principal Bass4GG – f#º
    Principal treble4gº - f³
    Flute (wood) 4GG – f³
    Fifteenth 2GG – f³

    The pedal pulldowns are C – eº 17 notes.

    The pitch is now A449 @ 15ºC. The wind pressure is now 62mm, but was 73mm when all the weights were applied – it sounded much too high.


    In 2019 we carried out a partial restoration of this organ for the National Trust. It was originally built by William Gray in 1807 for Lydia Hoare, the new Lady Acland, and paid for by her father. It was a large single manual chamber organ with an octave of pedals. If there was a Swell organ in 1807, all signs of it have been removed, and no pipes have been re-used in the present Swell organ, but there was often a short-compass swell box in organs of this size. Before 1901 the organ stood in the Dining Room.

    Henry Dyer rebuilt it in 1901. At the time his letterhead advertised that he supplied wind by hand, water, gas and electricity. In this case he provided electricity, which may have commended him to the Aclands. Dyer was apprenticed to Henry Holdich and had worked with Henry Bevington, both conservative organ builders. It looks as if he was similarly conservative in his organ building, but in this case it would be more accurate to describe this organ as ‘built by Henry Dyer using some pipes and the casework from the Gray organ’. From Gray’s organ survives most of the Great pipework, a handful of pedal pipes (or the bottom FF – B of the Stop Diapason), the casework and support structure, and the bellows (surprisingly). Apart from the bellows, the mechanism is entirely 1901. There is a single wind chest for Great and Swell, using the C key compass provided in 1901. There is a blowing installation in the cellar, about fifty yards away, fed through a zinc trunk to the organ, no longer used. The modern electric blower uses the 1807 reservoir as a second reservoir.

    Great (C – g³)

    Open Diapason81807 F – g³
    Stopt Diapason81807
    Dulciana81807 cº - g³ (C-B grooved to Stopt Diapason)
    Flute41807 cº - g³

    Swell (C – g³)

    Violin Diapason8
    Lieblich Gedact8
    Octave Gamba 4cº - g³
    Oboe8cº - g³

    Pedal (C – gº)

    Bourdon16about seven pipes from about G to about dº are from 1807

    Swell to Pedal
    Swell to Great
    Great to Pedal

    Hitch down swell pedal
    The pedal board slides into the case

    The pedal keys were restored. The pedal organ was supplied with pneumatic key action, but it looks as if the builder had run out of lead tubing, so that the tubes took the shortest route over the bellows, and as a result had collapsed and fallen out of their holes. The pedal key action has been restored. The keys and the playing area had been chipped and damaged, presumably when the house was used as a school. The damage has been repaired and a couple of labels replaced. The wind was fed from an electric blower on the bass side of the organ through the case panel. A new blower has been supplied standing inside the case at the back. The casework damage still needs to be restored. The pipework was mostly in good condition. The Great Stopt Diapason had an octave of pipework stolen or damaged, and the inappropriate replacement pipes have themselves been replaced with new pipes in the 1807 style.


    The organ was built in 1862 in Vöhrenbach in the Black Forest, Germany, an area famous for its clocks, cuckoo clocks, musical clocks and clockwork-driven barrel organs. They were often built by farming families to keep themselves busy during cold winter months. This organ was made by Fidel Heine, one of a large family in the orchestrion business. The family traded with their friend Daniel Imhof (of whom more later) who also set up a base in London to serve the market fuelled by the Industrial Revolution, later ‘Imhof & Mukle’ in New Oxford Street.

    The following is lifted from an article written by Henry (brother of our Edward Bennett) for the magazine The Musical Box: “My great-grandfather Thomas Bazley moved down to Gloucestershire in 1867 from Manchester where he had prospered in the cotton industry. He was a true Victorian polymath, educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, with wide ranging interests in every new development. He was a keen astronomer. He owned a Holtzappfel lathe and produced intricate engine turned works in ivory and wrote the definitive book on the Geometric Chuck, used to produce the complex patterns on bank notes designed to prevent forgery. He also had a Welte Mignon piano player with wooden keys to fit over a piano keyboard. The Flute Organ was procured for him by Daniel Imhof in London. We don’t know the exact date, but we do have a letter from 1964 recalling the “Flute Instrument” in 1897, still with large wooden barrels 30-36 inches long and wound up with a tool like a car handle…. The letter then says that Thomas Bazley’s son had it “electrified”, i.e. converted to the pneumatic system by Imhof & Mukle during the early years of the century, and adds that they were later asked to repair it when it no longer worked but “they no longer do that kind of thing – they only go in for wireless etc.” World War One dashed all hopes of repair, and in fact nothing is heard of the instrument until I discovered it myself carefully packed away.” Henry himself repaired the instrument in his teens, and after various vicissitudes, re-possessed it, and determined to have it restored. Joseph Marsden spent many months meticulously seeking out the defects in the mechanism, and particularly in the pneumatic system, so that the organ now makes music as flamboyantly as it ever did. The experience of hearing Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture, or Mendelsohn’s Midsummer Nights Dream, on this instrument is captivating and unusual.

    “The organ” continues Henry “has 150 wooden pipes, all with round mouths commonly termed Viennese Flute and somewhat unusual in normal organ design. These are played from wooden cassettes of manilla paper, 200mm wide and extremely tough. Spring loaded needles pop up through holes punched in the card and trigger a three stage vacuum pneumatic mechanism. The pipes are arranged in three ranks or ‘stops’ – loud, medium and soft, controlled by needles at the edge of the roll to vary the volume, and another needle rewinds the music at the end and switches the motor off.” There were originally 26 cassettes, but four, including Tchaikovsy’s 1812 overture, have gone missing in recent years.


    In the summer of 2019 we moved and repaired the ca1890 Peter Conacher organ from St Michaels and All Angels Hudswell, near Richmond in North Yorkshire (where the church has been made redundant) to St Patrick Bradford. The organ was made for Kirby Malzeard Methodist Church, and moved to Hudswell in 1934, according to newspaper used in re-adjusting the bearers of the wind chest. In August 2019 it was re-installed in St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church Bradford. The church is in the diocese of Leeds whose Bishop Marcus Stock is determined to expand the mission and teaching of the Church As a result this church has stayed open and is administered by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

    The organ was moved to its new home on the initiative of Dr. John Rowntree. It needed little work doing, apart from the pedalboard (which was falling to pieces) and the pedal key action turning machine (to take the action through 90º to treble and bass chests). The treble side needed new panelling, and the back, and the blower was moved from the side to the back of the organ.

    It is a single manual and pedal organ, with Open Diapason, Stopped Diapason, Dulciana, Principal and Fifteenth, and a Pedal Lieblich Bourdon. There is a coupler ‘Pedals to Keys’ and a balanced swell pedal (altered in 1934 by ‘C.H.Hopes’). The pitch is A449.6 @ 18ºC, the tuning equal temperament. The wind pressure is 75mm (3 inches). The organ was numbered 958 in 1890. The Fifteenth was stamped with 1252 as well, perhaps the 1934 move. The manual keyboard was made by ‘Sebright + Clark’.


    The history of this organ was researched by Rod England, who was also instrumental in having the organ restored and raising the funds, on behalf of the church.

    The organ dates from 1867, and was made for Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Stirling. It was built by Hill & Son (job no.1222 in the Hill estimate book, and markings in the organ). It cost £250. Like the organ at Rothbury, it looks like a standard organ, responding to the spread of congregational hymn-singing.

    The organ was replaced by a larger one in about 1877. It probably spent the next 25 years at Tetley Street Baptist church in Bradford, which closed in 1903. It then went to Zion Baptist church in Morecambe. In 1978 the size of the church was reduced and the organ was moved to the floor. In 1986 the organ was sold to the church at Cockerham, and moved by Leigh Harding, who redecorated the case and front pipes, and changed the stoplist, mostly by moving existing stops.

    When G&G restored the organ in 2018-9 the case was redecorated as it had been originally, with new stop knobs (turned by Mike Law) and labels in the original style (engraved by Malcom Long) and the woodwork grained to resemble oak (by Nick Hagen). Ten new zinc pipes were made by Terry Shires in the style of Hill, to replace those replaced in the side fields of the front. An earlier finish was restored by Chris Wells. Chris removed the silver Hammerite paint, a layer of gold paint, the traditional stencilled scheme now restored, a layer of copper paint and the first layer of hospital green with dark green tendrils and leaves. The pipes now have a dove grey background for the bodies and maroon for the lower bodies and the feet, with maroon and pink stencilled ornaments (by Bethany Wells), including the logo of the Cockerham primary school.

    The stoplist was restored to the original, with a new Swell Open Diapason and the original Dulciana which had been in store with Leigh Harding. The organ was revealed to the local people on Wednesday March 13th, and there was a service of dedication on April 28th with the Archdeacon of Lancaster the Ven. Michael Eeveritt, and an inaugural organ recital played by Ian Pattinson of Lancaster Priory.

    Open Diapason8Bourdon16Bourdon16
    Stopt Diapason8Open Diapason8
    Dulciana8Stopt Diapason8
    Wald Flute4Oboe8Swell to Great
    Fifteenth2Great to Pedal

    Key compass:
    Great C – f³ 56 notes
    Swell C – B from Lieblich Bourdon cº – bº (which are permanently on, without slider)
    cº – f³ 44 notes
    Pedal C – e¹ 29 notes

  • Consort organ in 17th century english style, made for hire

    This organ was made in 2018 for playing with viols and viols consort. It is based on the organ made for Sir George Shirley in about 1630, for his house at Staunton Harold in Leicestershire, where he also employed the young William Lawes, who compiled the Shirley part books for the household’s viol playing.

    Most of the pipes and the windchest from this organ survive, now in the church next to the house. All these pipes are made of pine, with oak blocks, tuning stoppers and caps.

    It is very similar to the organ we made for Harm Vellguth in 2003, except that this organ has a transposable keyboard, for two pitches, at a¹=415Hz and a¹=466Hz. The tuning is 1/6th comma meantone, and two extra pipes are available for each octave of the open ranks. If the keys are moved up two semitones, then eb will become db, and bb will become ab, so c# and g# are provided for the higher pitch.

    The two pitches correspond to the pitches at which sets of viols were made in the 17th century in England. The lower pitch was consort pitch, used at home, and the higher pitch was church pitch. The organ itself and the availability of the two pitches has been an obsession of Dominic Gwynn’s over the years. He has been encouraged by Bill Hunt’s (editor, researcher and former viol player with Fretwork) and Andreas Linos (researcher and viol player with the French viol group l’Archéron).

    Stop Diapason8ft
    Open Diapason treble8ft

    The key compass is C to c³ (49 notes) at both pitches. The Open Diapason starts at c#¹/d#¹.

    The pipes were all cut to length, but it was decided to provide pipe metal flaps, to give the opportunity for exactness in the tuning, not to change pitch and tuning system, which are fixed, as they always would have been.

    The oak case is 200cm high, 120cm wide and 72cm deep.


    The organ was made by Bevington & Sons, Soho, London, job no. 1367, in about 1870. Gustav Holst was organist here for a year, 1892-1893, as a teenager.

    The organ is essentially unaltered except for minor work by Osmonds of Taunton. Tuning slides have been fitted to the metal pipes, the keys have been re-covered with plastic, and the tiny wind trunk from the under-floor bellows to the windchest has been augmented with two Kopex trunks.

    In 2018 Edward Bennett and Nick Hagen restored the manual and pedal keyboards, and patched the bellows, which are placed under the floor (hence the trap door).

    Open Diapason (unenclosed)8
    Bell Gamba8
    Lieblich Gedact8
    Bourdon (Pedals)16
  • Horniman museum musical instrument collection: Anonymous late georgian chamber organ

    The organ is anonymous and there are few obvious identifying characteristics. We have no idea for whom it was made. Such organs were made in large quantities at the end of the 18th and in the early 19th centuries, for the increasingly wealthy and culturally aware commercial classes. A number of organs survive with almost the same design and layout, almost the same style of organ front, and almost the same manufacturing characteristics. This chamber organ at the Horniman Museum has no label and is unsigned, but it has a clue which suggests it may have been made by Joseph Beloudy.

    The inside of the wind chest was revealed during restoration. The pallet box is lined with paper covered with writing exercises, from the same period as the organ. The exercises repeat the same proverbs, such as “reason is given to rule our lawless passions”, and individual letters. In the Summer issue of The Music Box (the journal of the Musical Box Society of Great Britain), Arthur Ord-Hume writes about Joseph Beloudy – An unsung genius of the 18th century (The Music Box vol28 no6, summer 2018). The practice of lining bellows and pallet box with similar writing exercises is illustrated in his article, but including the name of the writer, “M Ann Beloudy July 30th 1791”, the daughter of the musical clock and mechanical organ builder. They lived at 2, Collier Street, Pentonville, near Holloway on the northern edge of 18th century London. Ord-Hume gives other examples of his work, notably a spectacular musical clock illustrated on the cover of the autumn issue of the Music Box, and a barrel organ at Calke Abbey, made in 1793 and restored in 1988, which could be examined for similarities with this organ.

    Beloudy appears in the fire insurance records of the period, along with other unfamiliar names, insuring his premises and stock for small amounts. This organ is well-made, though not of the highest quality available at the time. I would not associate its maker with the superb quality associated with the spectacular musical clocks of the same period, but nonetheless, I think it is safe to attribute this organ to Joseph Beloudy, and probably in the first half of the 17990s, when Mary Ann was being schooled.

    The organ was bought by the Horniman Museum at the sale of Richard Burnett’s collection of keyboard instruments at Finchcocks, near Goudhurst Kent May 11th 2016 (accession no. 2018.3). Richard Burnett bought it from Martin Renshaw in 1976. Martin carried out a certain amount of restoration work carried out before and after. Martin Renshaw bought it from Mr R E Diggles at Stansmore House, New Road, Alton, Stoke-on-Trent in mid-August 1975.

    The organ was restored by Christopher Davies, with assistance from Ben Marks (keyboard) and Nick Hagen (casework). The main problem was a loss of wind, which proved to be in the wind chest, which was dismantled and restored, revealing the writing exercises in the pallet box. The key depth was too shallow, the keyboard frame was insecure and the stops had ineffective notches for the shifting movement. The back of the keyboard frame now rises on wedges, bringing the cheeks under the stops, and increasing the key depth. There were numerous defects in the pipework which made voicing and tuning difficult. The restoration report is available on this website.


    Stop Diap bassGG – bº stopped wood
    Stop Diap treblec¹ - f³ metal chimney flute
    PrincipalGG-D stopped wood, open metal
    Fifteenthopen metal (1978, replacing a later Dulciana)

    A shifting movement removes the Principal and Fifteenth, the sliders being held in the ‘on’ position on notches with springs.

    Key compass GG C AA D – f³.
    Pitch a¹=438Hz. The tuning is a modified 1/6 comma meantone.

  • Restoration of Robert Gray/Father Smith Chamber Organ

    This chamber organ was restored after water damage. The owners have asked to remain unidentified. It dates from two periods. It was originally made around 1680, and the pipes from this organ were used in a new organ by Robert Gray in 1775. The pipes are all made of wood, and are typical of 17th century chamber organs. These organs are often ascribed to Father Smith, the Kings Organmaker, and the pre-eminent organ builder of his day. It is a tradition that started early in the 18th century, though the style was already in existence when the German Smith came to England, and it seems more likely that his workshop took over their manufacture to such an extent that later generations thought of them as his.

    Robert Gray decorated his case with this inscription: “This organ was originally built by that celebrated artist commonly called Father Smith and erected in its present form by Robert Gray of London 1775”. As well as the case and the mechanism, he provided an 18th century mixture, about two thirds of which consists of the smallest pipes of the 17th century organ, and divided it into bass and treble halves, so that one can use the treble as a solo Cornet, a stop whose mixture of fifths and thirds gives a reedy sound, exploited by Georgian composers.

    The organ’s appearance is entirely Robert Gray’s, with a mahogany case, gilded dummy front pipes, and fretwork shades backed with red silk above the pipes. The keyboard is unusually decorated, with ivory naturals and ebony sharps, arcaded fronts to the naturals, veneered key cheeks and a moulding round the bottom edge of the cheeks and key rail. The bellows, wind chest, stop and key action are all Robert Gray’s. He probably also provided the lead tuning flaps to the open wood pipes, which would originally have been cut to length and fine-tuned with a knife. He therefore altered the pitch and the tuning.

    The stops are

    Open Diapason 8ft
    Stop Diapason 8ft
    Principal 4ft
    Twelfth 2⅔ft
    Fifteenth 2ft
    Sesquialtera Bass III
    Sesquialtera Treble III

    The key compass is GG AA C D – e³, the mixture dividing at c¹/c#¹. The pitch is a¹=440Hz, and the tuning system used is the late Alexander Mackenzie’s reconstruction of a Georgian tuning system, named by him ‘the common tuning’.

  • Graham Barber repairs to Grant Degens and Bradbeer practice organ in 2018

    The organ was designed and made by Edward Bennett for Kenneth Rothwell in 1974 when Edward was working for Grant Degens and Bradbeer in Northampton. It now belongs to Graham Barber It was cleaned and repaired by Edward and Chris Davies in December and January. The organ has worn remarkably well, the only deterioration in the ‘ball and socket’ stop-rod links, which had perished and were replaced with traditional mechanical links.

    It is an organ of its time, using a steel frame and plywood chests, an economical layout, low wind pressure (47mm) and open-toe voicing. The organ sounds delightful, and has proved its usefulness as a practice organ.


    IChimney Flute4ft
    IIStopped Wood8ft
    CouplerII - I

    In 2017 we made a new organ in the historic cases in the Public Theatre at Trinity College Dublin. The Great organ was made by Lancelot Pease in 1684 as a 10ft transposing organ. In 1701 this organ was rebuilt by John Baptist Cuvillie as an 8ft organ with a GG compass with short bottom octave, and in 1705 he made a new Chair organ. Cuvillie had worked with Renatus Harris, and presumably stayed in Dublin after helping Harris to make the two cathedral organs.

    The 1684 organ was moved to the new Public Theatre in the 1760s. The new chapel was provided with an organ by Samuel Green in 1797. Thomas Telford replaced both organs in about 1838. In the Theatre organ he re-used the old cases, though the front pipes were silent from that time, and the Chair case was retained as a screen only, behind the gallery rail. It is difficult to avoid the feeling that there was always an intention to replace it with a fashionable new organ when funds became available. The cases were not well made; they were repeatedly nailed together, shored up and repainted. Telford’s organ was itself rebuilt in the 1950s, and the front pipes were covered with dark brown paint. Gilded patterns were applied in time to welcome King Juan Carlos of Spain as an honorary fellow in 1981. The 1684 front pipes were also crudely made and they started to buckle and fall out of the case front. A report on the early history of the organ is available.

    The project was guided by Professors David Grayson and Shane Allwright (TCD), together with advice about the specification from Ian Bell (consultant) and Professor Andrew Johnstone (TCD). It was managed by Monica Janson, Design Services Manager, Estates & Facilities TCD. The original appearance of the case was confirmed by a photograph of the Public Theatre taken in about 1904. The historic paint was investigated by Catherine Hassall. The original appearance of the front pipes, the shields and other ornaments has been magically recovered by Chris and Roanna Wells, restoring the original paint, reconstituting the patterns where there had been paint loss, and gilding the elements originally gilt, or originally intended to be gilt. The casework was painted by Charles and Liz Marsden. Nick Hagen restored and completed the historic cases, which were crudely made originally and had deteriorated to an appalling condition. He replaced missing carving and mouldings. Joe Marsden restored the equally crudely made and equally deteriorated front pipes.

    The new organ is based on Renatus Harris’s organ at St Botolph Aldgate, which was built in about 1702, the same time as Cuvillie’s work at Trinity College. The 1684 Open Diapason and the 1705 Principal front pipes were used as the basis for the scaling and voicing. The original stoplist emerged from research during the building, but in any case it would have been decided to provide an organ with more versatility, including in this case an expanded keyboard compass and a small pedal organ. The old front pipes had a pitch about half a semitone sharper than modern pitch, though the tuning windows were very haphazard. The Great Sesquialtera is copied from that at Aldgate, with a fifteenth and a tierce of principal scale running through. The Twelfth, Fifteenth and Tierce therefore have a wider scale, as an organ by Harris or Cuvillie might have had. The Chair Furniture is in classical French style.

    The organ was given the same tuning system as St Botolph Aldgate, a 1/6th comma meantone, with the wolf divided between c#-g#-d#-bb-f. It is based on Renatus Harris’s own instructions, which are given as a postscript to Godfrey Keller’s Compleat Method for attaining to play a Thorough-bass published in about 1705 as “Harris the Organ Makers way of Tuning His Organs by Imperfect 5ths & True Octaves”.

    The organ was designed by Dominic Gwynn. The metal pipes were made by Joe Marsden, Chris Davies made the keys and the wooden pipes with Nick Hagen. Edward Bennett was responsible for the wind chests, key and stop mechanisms. The reeds were voiced by Rob and Abigail Balfour Rowley.

    GREAT ORGAN (10 stops)CHAIR ORGAN (8 stops)PEDAL ORGAN (4 stops)
    Open DiapasonStop DiapasonBourdon16’
    Stop DiapasonPrincipalPrincipal
    Nason FluteNazard22/3’
    Tierce1 3/5Cromorne

    Great to Pedals; Choir to Pedals

    Great Sesquialtra

    GG21 3/51 1/31
    c142 2/321 3/5

    Great Furniture

    1 1/312/3
    g121 1/31

    Keyboard compass: GG AA – d3 56 notes.
    Pedal compass: C – f1 30 notes. The pedalboard is straight.

    Pitch a¹ = 440Hz at 18°C

  • Edinburgh University Musical Instrument Museum, Restoration of the St Cecilia’s Hall Chamber Organ

    According to the 1968 catalogue, this organ was “built for the Earl of Normanton, at Ditchley, near Woodstock, Oxfordshire. Bought and restored by Noel Mander in 1967. Bought for the St Cecilia Hall by the University with the aid of a Government grant. Noel Mander thought the organ was built by John Snetzler in about 1750.

    The organ does not resemble other Snetzler organs, but the metal pipe marks are very similar to those in the 1777 Snetzler organ at Rotherham parish church. It is possible that these marks are those of Snetzler’s partner towards the end of his career, James Jones. Jones accompanied and erected the organ provided by Snetzler for the Edinburgh Musical Society (on the site of the present St Cecilia’s Hall) in 1775 [see John Kitchen The Organs of St Cecilia’s Hall, University of Edinburgh BIOSJ 24 (2000)]. He was executor to Snetzler’s will in 1785 [Alan Barnes and Martin Renshaw The Life and Works of John Snetzler p314-5 (Ashgate 1994)]. So this may not be a Snetzler organ, but it may be close to the organ bought for the Edinburgh Musical Society (though that was larger). Registration instructions in the organ relate it to James Bartleman, who was a famous bass singer in late Georgian London. In the sale of his effects (Morning Chronicle Monday June 25th 1821) is included “a Finger Organ, by Snetzler and Jones, of fine quality”. So there is some connection with James Jones.

    The general style of the case, with its naturalistic carving, would date from about 1775. The way in which the organ is laid out, supported on the solid panels of the casework, rather than an independent support structure, is unusual, unlike other English chamber organs of the time. The entablature and pediment were evidently made in the 1930s, in imitation of the overdoors at Ditchley Park, when the organ was supplied for Nancy Lancaster, presumably by Sybil Colefax and John Fowler, when Nancy and her husband Ronald Tree were re-decorating the house.

    The organ was bought by Noel Mander at some point before 1967 when his workmen restored the organ. They removed the feeders of the bellows, and cut down the pipes and provided tuning slides, raising the pitch to A432Hz @ 15ºC and presumably introducing equal temperament. Otherwise the organ does not show any obvious re-building. Unfortunately the organ was dried out in St Cecilia’s Hall almost immediately after it was delivered, the top and middle leaves of the bellows were split and the wind chest spoilt with ciphers and runnings.

    In 2015-6 the organ was stored by Martin Goetze and Dominic Gwynn Ltd in their workshop at Welbeck, Notts, during the re-development project, and was restored by Guillaume Zellner and Willie Hendry. Willie restored the wind chest, sealing the channels with cotton tape, re-leathering the pallets and making new leather pull-down purses. Guillaume restored the bellows, dismantling the reservoir and filling the splits in the leaves, making a new feeder bellows, re-leathering. The organ was re-assembled, adjusted and tuned by Edward Bennett, Dominic Gwynn and Willie Hendry in St Cecilia’s Hall on March 28th-30th 2017, when the organ was heard for the first time for 50 years.

    The stop names are engraved on bone labels; the knobs are ebony. The stoplist, in the order on the jambs, is:
    Stop Diapason , Fifteeth
    Open Diapason , Principal

    A shifting movement reduces to the Stop Diapason. The key compass is GG C AA D to e³.

  • Handel House Museum restoration of Snetzler Bureau Organ

    The organ was built by John Snetzler in 1752 (information provided by Snetzler’s usual label at the back of the pallet box of the wind chest). The organ may originally have belonged to a W. Macpherson, a member of the Aberdeen Musical Society, who bought it for £46. It was given to the Handel House,, by Elinor Warburg, who bought it from Noel Mander in 1957. Mander bought it from the estate of Canon Wallis of Lichfield, who may have bought it from the music critic and scholar J. Fuller Maitland (and ‘Early Music’ pioneer).

    It seems not to have been altered, except in ways designed to keep the organ usable. Some of the pipes are horizontal and conveyed in ways which look like an afterthought, or perhaps a later alteration to make the organ easier to tune. The 1754 bureau organ at the Horniman Museum is more logical in its layout. The case has been extended at the back. This looks like an early alteration to allow the front fall to lie flat when open. The panel above the keys, with its red fabric, is modern. The case is little altered apart from the extension, and the fabric in the panels in the frame above the keys. How this panel was organised, and the music supported, does not survive in its original form in any of the few surviving bureau organs.

    In 1957 Manders restored the organ, providing an electric blower and tuning slides. In September and October 2016 the organ was restored by Edward Bennett with assistance from Nick Hagen (casework) and Joe Marsden (metal pipes). The organ was restored as found, apart from removing the electric blower, which will in future only be used for tuning, and the keyboard, which had been restored in 1957. The main faults with the organ arose, as so often, from dehydration. Edward restored the wind chest, its first ever restoration, since its bottom board was still glued in position. The bellows valves were renewed, but the main bellows leather (which was replaced in 1957) was retained.

    The organ has Stop Diapason 8ft (stopped wood), Flute 4ft (stopped wood), Fifteenth 2ft (open metal), Sesquialtera bass II and Cornet II treble. There is a shifting movement pedal to take off the mixture. The key compass is C D to e³ (52 notes).

  • Rothbury, Northumberland restoration of the 1866 Hill Organ at All Saints Church

    The organ dates from 1866, given by Lord Armstrong (then Sir William) and the then Rector. It was built by Hill & Son (job no. 1198 in the Hill estimate book, and markings in the organ). It looks like a standard organ, responding to the spread of congregational hymn-singing; Hymns Ancient and Modern was first published in 1861.

    It started its life at Rothbury in a west gallery, and was moved to its present position at the east end in 1887 when the vestry was enclosed. After the First World War a false organ front was provided as part of the new furnishings for the chancel, as a memorial to those lost in the war. The organ was cleaned, repaired and overhauled at various times. In 1971 the wind chests and key action were restored in the manner of the times, and the interior of the organ painted battleship grey, by C. L. Sommerville and W. Welsh of Rushworth and Dreaper. Goetze & Gwynn Ltd restored the organ in 2016. The organ was inaugurated on September 17th 2016 by the Lord Lieutenant, Jane Duchess of Northumberland, James Lancelot organist of Durham Cathedral, the girl choristers of Durham Cathedral directed by James Randle and three young musicians playing an arrangement by John Casken.

    Goetze & Gwynn Ltd have moved the organ to the north transept, facing across the nave. Much of the front of the organ had been removed when the memorial front was placed in front of it; it was replaced with new work in the original style by Nick Hagen. The original zinc front pipes were decorated with stencils quite simply; they were repaired and waxed to bring the colours out. The organ is very compactly designed with no passage board between Great and Swell; the tuner has to remove front pipes and place a passage board over the treble pipes. The organ was completely restored, wind chests, bellows and wind system, keys and key action, stop action and combination action. The worst element of the organ before restoration was the key action, and especially the pedalboard, which needed to be restored to reduce lost movement and noise.

    Open Diapason 8
    Stopped Diapason 8
    Dulciana (C-B grooved) 8
    Principal 4
    Suabe Flute 4
    Fifteenth 2
    Open Diapason 8
    Stopped Diapason 8
    Principal 4
    Oboe 8
    Bourdon 16

    Couplers: Swell to Great, Great to Pedal
    Combination Pedals
    Lever swell pedal

    Key compass: manual C – g³ (Swell pipes cº – g³, C-B of the Swell keys act on the Great)
    pedal C – e¹

    wind pressure: 70mm (2¾ ins)
    pitch and tuning: A440, equal temperament (tuning slides presumably from 1971)

    Link to All Saints Church at Rothbury

  • Erddig House near Wrexham Wales, restoration of the Bevington Organ for the National Trust

    The organ was bought for the Music Room at Erddig in 1865, for Philip Yorke II, then aged 15. It was made by Henry Bevington & Sons of 48 Greek Street Soho, and cost , for £227.2s.4d. There is a Bevington printed label in the wind chest, with the date 1864 and the job number 654, written on the pallets. A history of the Bevington family is provided in Bevington & Sons told by Tony Bevington, Jill Bevington and Romana Bevington (Preston House Publishing 2013). With the organ is a dumb organist, with six tunes. In 1973 the Yorkes gave the house to the National Trust, who restored it and opened it to the public in 1977,

    The only noticeable alterations were to the pumping mechanism and to the swell box. A pumping handle was provided on the treble side, using one of the two feeder bellows, no doubt because use of the pumping pedal is restricted by the pedal keys. The pedal keys were originally retractable but the damage to the key action means that it is now fixed. There is no electric blower. The swell box was covered with thin boarding presumably by Whiteleys of Chester in the late 1940s (indicated by a note in blue crayon on the slats), which was removed in 2016 during the first complete restoration in the organ’s history. The work was carried out by Dominic Gwynn, Nick Hagen, Joseph Marsden and Stuart Dobbs, between November 2015 and May 2016.

    Bevingtons were known for making small model organs. They were fairly conservative in their voicing style, though the stop list, mechanism and appearance were up-to-date. It is designed as a miniature church organ rather than a Georgian chamber organ. As a result access for adjustment and maintenance is very restricted, and dismantling and re-assembly was challenging.

    Open Diapason 8ft open metal G – f³ (G – gº in front) C – F# sharing Stopt Diapason
    Dulciana 8ft cº – f³ C – B sharing Stopt Diapason
    Stopt Diapason 8ft stopped wood C – bº open wood c¹ – f³
    Principal 4ft C to D# in front
    Fifteenth 2ft f#² to f³ break back to 4ft
    Bourdon 16ft C – cº
    Stopt Diapason 8ft stopped wood cº – f³ C-B using Great Stopt Diapason
    Gamba 8ft open metal dº – f³cº-c#º sharing Swell Stopt Diapason, C-B using Great
    Flute 4ft stopped wood cº – f³
    Pulldowns to Great

    Key compass: Manuals C – f³ 54 notes (Swell C – B permanently coupled to the Great, the Great C-B playing the Open Diapason on its own, but the same pipes as the Stopt Diapason available only through the Swell), Pedals C – gº 20 notes
    Swell coupler on stop knob
    Pitch and tuning: A435Hz @ about 16ºC, Equal Temperament

    Blowing pedal and blowing handle (on treble side)
    Swell pedal
    Composition pedals: I all Great Stops; II Open Diapason, Dulciana, Stopt Diapason, Bourdon;
    III Dulciana, Bourdon

  • Great Tew, Oxfordshire restoration of the Henry Williams Organ at St Michael and All Angels

    According to the former organist Mark Purcell and his wife Caroline Shenton the organ was built and provided between 1860 and 1866, probably in 1863 when the church records are missing. It was paid for by the lord of the manor, Matthew Piers Watt Boulton, grandson of the James Watt’s partner Matthew Boulton. The organ was built by Henry Williams of Cheltenham, according to the name plate, in which he describes himself as ‘from Gray & Davison’ the eminent London builders. He seems to have been their works foreman, perhaps retiring to Cheltenham for his health, but continuing to supply organs in the Gray & Davison style, and perhaps with Gray & Davison parts.

    The organ was very well designed and solidly made, apart from the pedal key action, which is rather haphazardly spread around the ground frame, attached to the bellows, etc. The pedal board and the pedal key action to the Bourdons on both sides of the organ have been made more consistent and efficient. It is a very attractive and complete small church organ of the period, from a time when hymn-singing started to become a widely-adopted activity.

    The organ has been very little worked on over the years. The Great Cremona was prepared for but never supplied. The Swell Cornopean disappeared after the last War. The organ was cleaned but not altered by Hill, Norman and Beard in 1975, though the Great wind chest was restored and an electric blower was provided and the hand pumping disconnected. The feeders had been allowed to drop on the pedal key action, breaking quite a lot of it.

    The 2015 project consisted of a complete workshop restoration. The wind chests were dismantled, and the pallets re-leathered. The bellows were re-leathered and the manual pumping was restored. The keys were repaired, with new wood round the pivot and guide pins, and the key action too was checked for lost movement. The wooden pipes had their tuning stoppers re-leathered, the metal pipes were repaired, though the tuning sldies were kept. The reeds were replaced with new reeds made and voiced in the workshop, copied from examples in the Gray & Davison organ of 1878 now at St Anne’s Worksop. The casework was repaired, including filling of pinholes, etc. and repairs to the finish, especially around the console area.

    Open Diapason 8 Open Diapason 8
    Stop’d Diapason Bass 8 Stop’d Diapason Bass 8
    Clarabella TC 8 Stop’d Diapason Treble 8
    Dulciana TC 8 Keraulophon TC 8
    Principal 4 Principal 4
    Flute 4 Cornopean 8
    Twelfth 2⅔
    Fifteenth 2
    Cremona TC 8
    Bourdon 16

    Swell to Pedal
    Swell to Great
    Great to Pedal

    manual keys C – f³ (56 notes)
    pedal keys C – f¹ (19 notes)

    3 composition pedals
    trigger swell pedal

    A link to St michael and All Angels Church, Great Tew

  • Boxford, Berkshire restoration of the Barrel Organ at St Andrew’s Church

    There is a painted name plate on the case but the name of the maker has been scrubbed away, apparently not an uncommon feature, perhaps by agents selling organs on as their own, etc. The royal coat of arms was that used by monarchs between 1816 and 1837, and resembles in style that used in royal letters patents. That may mean that this maker had a royal patent, but I can find none that match a short-ish name that evidently begins with ‘W—–’ or ‘W. —–’.

    Barrel no4 was made by Flight and Robson according to a paper label glued to the paper round the barrel, which is also marked in ink: 3609. The label gives: Flight & Robson/ Organ Builders/ St Martins Lane/ Charing Cross/ No 101 London. The partnership existed at this address 1806 to 1832, when it was declared bankrupt. One of the tunes on barrel no5 is ‘God save the Queen’, suggesting Victoria, so presumably post-1837.

    It was evidently made as a church barrel organ, but barrel no5 has secular tunes, as if the organ was occasionally removed from church for an entertainment elsewhere. It has evidently always been at Boxford.

    The organ had evidently been well-used. In the middle of the 19th century the Twelfth and Fifteenth were replaced by an Open Diapason, quite early in the organ’s life, using some of the original pipes and some second hand pipes. Otherwise there are no signs of later alterations, till a bicycle pedal wheel was adapted to provide a turning handle, presumably within living memory, and the six smallest dummy front pipes had been painted with gold paint. The organ was restored to its original condition by Dominic Gwynn, Stuart Dobbs, Joseph Marsden and Nick Hagen in 2015-16. The project was the initiative of churchwarden Andrew Lyle.

    The stops are labelled as follows in a row under the dummy front, from left to right:

    Diapason Principal Twelfth Fifteenth Flute

    The key compass is G to g², 26 keys spread over three octaves as follows:

    fº f#º gº aº bº c¹ c#¹ d¹ e¹ f¹ f#¹ g¹ g#¹ a¹ b¹ c² c#² d² e² f² f#² g² eº dº cº G

    There are five barrels, with 50 tunes, including favourites like the Easter Hymn, St Anns, the 100th and 104th Psalm, the Portuguese Hymn (‘O Come all ye faithful’), the Sicilian Mariners, Haydns Hymn, and on the secular barrel God save the Queen and Rule Britannia.

    A link to St Andrews Church, Boxford

  • Pilning Gloucestershire restoration of the William Allen Chamber Organ at St Peter’s Church

    The organ was made as a chamber organ by William Allen, of 11 Sutton Street Soho London in about 1800, towards the beginning of Allen’s career. It was moved into the church in 1920, which may be when a pedalboard was added, and new stops (Gamba for Swell Hautboy, new Flute for Bassoon, loss of Sesquialtera-Cornet). The organ was restored by Percy Daniel of Clevedon in 1974, when some mechanical parts were replaced and their surface finish altered. The gilded dummy front pipes had been painted silver, etc.

    The organ was restored in 2015-16 by Edward Bennett, Guillaume Zellner, Joseph Marsden (pipes) and Nick Hagen (case). The project was guided by Jonathan Edwardes, director of music at St Peter’s. The opening concert was given by Jennifer Bate on April 30th 2016. The original stoplist has been restored, with new mixture, Bassoon, Hautbois and swell box. The casework has been restored, the dummy pipes gilded, the pediment moved inwards and with a new urn. It was decided to leave the tuning slides and the pitch is now A440Hz as it was before the restoration.

    Bassoon Bass [GG AA – bº] Bassoon Treble [c¹-f³]
    Sesquialtera [III rank GG AA – bº] Cornet [III rank c¹-f³]
    Fifteenth [GG AA – bº] Principal treble [c¹-f³]
    Principal Bass [GG AA – bº] Stop Diapason Treble [c¹-f³]
    Stop Diapason Bass [GG AA – bº] Hautbois Swell [c¹-f³]
    Open Diapason [cº-f³] Dulciana [c¹-f³]

    The manual key compass is GG AA – f³. The shifting movement reduces to Diapasons, Dulciana and Principal. There is a swell box for the Hautbois.

    A link to St Peter’s Church, Pilning

  • Sarsden House, Oxfordshire, restoration of the ca1830 J C Bishop Organ in St James Chapel

    The organ was built by J.C.Bishop and dates from about 1830. Bishop made at least two organs at Sarsden, though this one is not mentioned in the archive (Laurence Elvin Bishop and Son Organ Builders (Lincoln 1984), see pp112-3). Bishop first supplied a second-hand organ in 1819, then a barrel organ for the church in 1824 (one of his largest models costing £200 – a lot for a barrel organ) and this organ. Although this organ is not documented, it is undoubtedly by Bishop, and must date from 1830 or shortly thereafter. It was moved from the house in 1896, when the church was restored, presumably because the tunes on the barrel organ were by then old-fashioned, and an organist was reliably available.

    Bishop was an innovator in his early career (see Nicholas Thistlethwaite The early career of J.C.Bishop organ builder 1807-29 Journal of the British Institute of Organ Studies vol25 pp6-29, including a reproduction of a portrait of JCB painted in 1831). He invented the concussion bellows, an early example of which is to be found in this organ. He also started to re-introduce open wood stops, called Claribella in this case. He helped to develop the swell box, in this case using louvres for swell shutters instead of a sliding front. There are characteristics of Bishop’s organ building practice in the organ: the stop knob discs have his characteristic font and ornamental lines above and below the stop names. Both the manual keys and the pedal keys can be slid into the case. The stops are in a row above the keys, and activate the sliders in the middle of the chest, through the upperboards.

    The organ is in almost completely original condition, which is unusual for chamber organs subsequently moved into churches. Unfortunately the two reed stops have been removed though there are plans to replace them with new ones in Bishop’s style. The metal pipes have been cut down and are now tuned with tuning slides. The organ has suffered recently from an over-heated and de-humidified atmosphere. The exceptionally long keys had twisted so that they were jammed tight, the wind system and the wind chest had sprung leaks so that it was impossible to produce noises. The organ now speaks beautifully into the generous acoustic of this little estate church. It was restored through the generosity of the current owner, Tony Gallagher.


    Open Diapason -8 (GG AA – F# stopped wood G – f³ open metal)
    Stopt Diapason bass -8 (GG AA – bº stopped wood)
    Stopt Diapason treble -8 (c¹ – f³ stopped wood)
    Dulciana bass -8 (GG AA – F# stopped wood G – bº open metal)
    Dulciana treble -8 (c¹ – f³ open metal)
    Claribella -8 (c¹ – f³ open wood)
    Principal -4 (GG AA – f³ open metal)
    Twelfth (2⅔) (GG AA – f³ open metal)
    Fifteenth -2 (GG AA – f³ open metal)
    [Cremona – missing -8 (c¹ – f³ reeds)]
    [Hautboy – missing -8 (gº – f³ reeds)]

    Lever swell pedal, general swell front
    Pedalboard draws out to playing position
    Key compass: manual GG AA – f³, pedal GG – F# (GG# plays G#)

  • Gerard Verloop restoration of the 1851 Pilcher Organ at the Koogerkerk, Zuidscharwoude, Holland

    In 2014-15 we restored an organ belonging to the Collectie Gerard Verloop. It must be one of the last organs to have been made in the classic 18th century style, but expanded to include some of the features of the latest contemporary church organs. To see details of a more up-to-date chamber organ, our restoration of a 1864 Bevington organ will be posted in April. William Pilcher was not a full-time organ builder, dealing in other instruments as well as organs, and in this instrument it looks as he had exceeded his abilities, or at least, his ambition with this complex instrument was not matched by his craft skills. It is evident that Pilcher used elements from other organs. The two keyboards follow piano-making practice. They slide into the case. The keys are weighted so that the tails drop onto a rail, and they can be slid into the case under the stickers. The couplers (including Great to Pedal and Pedal to Great) offer further complexity.

    It is nonetheless a very attractive musical instrument. Amongst its attractions is the completeness of its history, which Gerard Verloop has covered very fully in an issue of the magazine which he published, de Mixtuur no67 (December 1990). The organ was made by William Pilcher in 1850-1 for Miss Eleanora Grant Macdowall, for her home in Baker Street London, later moved to Hanover Lodge, a large villa near Kensington Gardens. In 1946 the organ was given to Westfield College London, one of the first university colleges to admit women. In 1980 the organ was sold to Gerard Verloop, made playable and moved to Noord Holland. It now stands in the Koogerkerk in Zuidscharwoude (see picture), where it is used for concerts and the monthly Bach cantata services

    The organ has been altered slightly over the years. The original Swell Celestina was replaced by a Vox Angelica using the same pipes but sharpened to turn it into a stop beating with the Dulciana (perhaps by August Gern in 1898). It has now been replaced with a Victorian Clarinet, though the original pipes (which are in store) can be put back if desired. In 1946 a 30 note pedalboard was added and the pedal stop completed with a toeboard and treble pipes. A new pedalboard has now been provided to the original form and compass. There is a general swell front which does not completely enclose the organ and makes some of it impossible to tune; it has been removed and is stored in the church. The wind chest with its two manuals and shared bass has been restored. The sliding double keyboard, and the key and coupler actions, have been restored. Sense has been made of the complex composition pedals. New parts have been made for the casework where they were missing, and the front pipes re-gilded. The metal pipes had been cut down and tuning slides added; they were extended and tuned to Thomas Young’s temperament at a¹=440Hz, which must have been close to the original pitch.

    Stop Diapason Bass 8ft C – B stopped wood
    Stop Diapason Treble 8ft cº – c4 stopped wood
    Open Diapason 8ft cº – c4 metal
    Principal 4ft C – c4 metal
    Fifteenth 2ft C – c4 metal
    Sesquialtra III C – c4 metal
    Dulciana 8ft cº – c4 metal
    Flute 4ft C – c4 stopped wood
    Vox Angelica 8ft cº – c4 clarinet pipes
    Double Diapasons 16ft C – fº stopped wood
    Ditto to Great organ

    Swell to Great
    Pedals to Great Organ

    Key compass: Great and Swell C – c4 (61 notes), Pedals C – fº (18 notes)
    Pitch: a¹=440Hz
    General swell
    5 combination pedals, 3 Great 2 Swell