Kent County Organists’ Association

February 2001 Journal

 

The articles on this page are in the order published in the paper edition of the Journal

To go to a specific article click on the alphabetical list of contents below

 

Contents

 

A Buffet Supper

A Coach Outing

A visit to Sandwich

A History of Organ Builders - Part One

Choral Matins

Front Cover

Future Meetings

Gordon Lucas
High Honours

Letters to the Editor

Obituary

Organists' Review
Review of recent Meetings

Royal Naval College Greenwich

RSCM News

Secretarial skills?
Sesquitaltera

The Blower

The Cambridge College Chapels

The Princess Royal

 

Review of recent Meetings

A Buffet Supper

OUR KCOA buffet supper, held alternately with the President's Dinner, was arranged for Saturday i6th September and we stood ready, with Caterers, wines, and entertainment prepared, but we had not catered for a fuel crisis. Our secretary expressed concern, "could anyone get there without petrol? Should the evening be called off?"

Our concerns grew. But then Petrol Company Chiefs were summoned to "No 10" and the Prime Minister gave the order, "Let the wagons roll!" Concern turned to panic when they didn't. Ah, but then, the fuel protestors heard of the dreadful plight of the Kent County Organists, and they soon had second thoughts. "That's enough" they said, "time to call it off. So it was that all but three members arrived on time with cheerful smiles and lurid tales of depleted petrol tanks.

Vicky Shepherd had chosen her caterers with care, and they excelled themselves. The food, wine, and conviviality were second to none. This was generously washed down with entertainment from our secretary Jackie Howard who sang quite delightfully accompanied, equally splendidly at the piano, by Brian Adams in songs by Mozart, Purcell and Rodgers & Hammerstein. We must thank Vicky Shepherd for her time and enthusiasm arranging and co-ordinating our special evening.

A Coach Outing
The Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace?

ON SATURDAY 7th October a Warren's coach, with its shining distinctively deep yellow and blue livery, stood ready at its depot. But it was not required, as our outing to Raynes Park, Kew, and Hampton Court Palace had been cancelled. Regrettably, this is the first time a cancellation like this has happened. With estimated losses of some 300.00 the committee had no alternative but to abort the day.

Coach hire, and donations to churches, required a reasonably full coach to cover costs, and the numbers booked for this outing amounted only to a half- filled coach.

The date may have clashed with other activities or, as has been suggested, our advanced advertising was poor, which resulted in this disappointment. If you have views on this please do pass them to a committee member, as this is a matter which must be fully addressed for the future.

As a matter of interest, there is a Channel 4 video, 'Hampton Court Palace'

(VHS VC 6760) available on order from W. H. Smith.

It includes the Chapel and a section on the organ, showing

its interior and tuning by our President.

A Visit to Sandwich

THE TOWN of Sandwich lays some two miles from the sea, nestling on the banks of the river Stour. Although, a "Cinque Port", the gradual silting up of the Stour Estuary condemns it now to a land-locked existence. This was once a port used by ruddy-faced herring fishermen and Kings setting forth on their continental expeditions. But no more, although St. Bartholomew's Hospital, founded at Sandwich in 1190, still stands as witness to this bustling past.

On entering Sandwich, St. Bartholomew's Hospital is betrayed only by two small cottages sitting discreetly at the side of the road, flanking an unassuming entrance drive. This drive opens out to reveal a cluster of 'Lilliputian' cottages nestling round a small chapel, each with its resident's name painted on a plaque above the cottage entrance.

St. Bartholomew's Hospital provides lodging and shelter for sixteen "Brothers or Sisters" over the age of fifty who have resided in Sandwich, or the immediately adjoining parishes, for a specified number of years. Although a lay foundation they support their own chaplain who conducts the weekly chapel services, Evensong, and a monthly Communion, using exclusively The Book of Common Prayer.

St. Bartholomew's Hospital Chapel, Sandwich

On our visit on 11th November, Mr. Charles Wanostrocht, a trustee of the hospital, greeted us with an intriguing in-depth talk on the hospital's history. Of course, he mentioned the organ, which was installed in the Chapel in 1878, built by Halmshaw & Sons of Birmingham, and has mechanical action throughout. This one-manual organ has six manual stops and one Pedal stop, its sweet sound complimenting the Chapel. Its green delicately painted display pipes and case were in a remarkably good condition. KCOA member Mr. D. Martin Holloway, their resident organist, guided our Michael Cooke through the organ's eccentricities, who then demonstrated them to us all.

For the second part of the meeting we moved on into the town, finding our way through the old world charm of Sandwich and to the Church of St. Clement. After a superb tea, served in the newly refurbished Parish Hall, we were welcomed to the church by the Rector of Sandwich, the Rev. Mark Roberts. Many of us had not previously heard the new Nicholson organ and were looking forward with keen anticipation to the demonstration by the Organist and Choirmaster, Mr. Paul Baldock.

The two-manual organ has twenty speaking stops, reversed colour keyboards, mechanical action to manuals and pedal, and stands in the South Aisle- The handsome case has pipe displays of burnished tin and spotted metal, the West front being very striking with a central tower; flat side towers, and pipe shades set over a crimson backing. Pipework from the previous organ, built by Davis of Northampton, has been revoked on light wind pressures and skilfully combined with new material.

Mr. Baldock played:-

Passacaglia in D minor Buxtehude

Wachet auf, rufft uns die Stimme J.S. Bach

Priere a Notre-Dame Boellmann

Toccata in F major Buxtehude

These pieces splendidly played, demonstrated the warm Great Open Diapason, bright chorus work, a piquant Swell sesquialtera, pleasing Swell strings and Great flutes, and an impressive tutti. The organ speaks very clearly, sounding especially powerful in the South nave aisle, but tone seems to carry throughout the church.

St. Clement's Organ, Sandwich

While the organ is completely at home with Buxtehude and Bach, one was left wondering how it would cope with the romantic repertoire. After the demonstration several members took the opportunity to play. Alistair Curtis played Howells' Psalm Prelude No 1 Set 1, and obtained a very convincing build-up well suited to the piece, showing the versatility of the instrument in this repertoire as well as that of earlier periods.

This was a very interesting and enjoyable afternoon, and our thanks are due to
Malcolm Hall for arranging it.

The Cambridge College Chapels

Saturday i6th June

A Coach outing not to be missed!

A day visiting some of the best Cambridge Chapels and organs including:

Christ College, St. John's and King's. Our visit culminates at King's

with Choral Evensong and an organ recital set in the aesthetic

sumptuousness of this renowned College Chapel.

Sesquialtera by Colin Jilks

"Simon Preston was quite charming"

A PLETHORA of playing aids now adorn the modern organ console and any organist of note would feel naked without them. Gone are the days of the trundling heavy metal combination pedals, pedals that required that certain expertise to operate. Pressed too tentatively, stops moved only halfway in, or out, leaving the player with a bleating out of tune combination, The required technique was, of course, 'surprise', that deliberate smart action with the foot, promptly and decisively.

These days, on modern organs, electric thumb and pedal piston are now de rigueur even on tracker ones. Not only should there be a copious number of pistons, but innumerable numbers of channels, so an organist can set-up complete sets of registrations for every occasion. This instant adjustability may be an organist’s delight, but it does not bode well for the organ tuner.

Tuning an organ is not the straightforward technical excise that might be imagined. Laying aside the question of 'temperaments', many factors must be considered if an organ is to sound as a "sonorous whole", rather than a number of individual stops speaking together. Of course, it goes without saying that the tonal design and scaling of an organ's pipework must be right. Ranks of pipes that comprise a 'chorus' must be able to speak and blend as one, and herein lay the difficulties,

I remember many years ago, in my early Willis' apprenticeship days, organ builders' discussions in the workshop. Some would advocate tuning an organ's department by tuning each stop individually to the 4ft Principal stop, bringing them on one at a time to be tuned, then putting them off again. They decreed that this ensured every pipe in the organ was 'in tune', and it was if checked against the Principal. But this left choruses to take care of themselves, which rarely produces a good result, as it does not take into consideration the organ tuner's ever constant dilemma, 'wind robbing'.

Robbing' occurs as more ranks are drawn on a soundboard, making greater demands on the on the wind supplied to the pipes from a single pallet, as is the case with slider soundboards. The wind is supplied to the pipes from a pallet, feeding the soundboard bar, which runs across the soundboard, supplying wind to the stops that are drawn. There is one bar for each note, the more stops drawn the more wind required from the bar and its pallet with a consequent small drop in supply to each pipe.

The organ tuner must make allowance for this wind loss as tuning proceeds by adding ranks one to another whilst tuning. First the Open Diapason 8ft would be tuned to the Principal 4ft, (if there is an Open Diapason II this would be tuned before adding the Open I) then adding the I2th' 15th and mixtures etc. This produces a "single note" effect where all the natural harmonics of the 8ft, 4ft. 2ft and mixture pipes are blended and has allowed for the additional demands of wind from the sound board. Flute choruses can be treated in a similar way, although a Stopped

Diapason should always be checked for blend and tuning with an Open Diapason first.

The most commonly used combinations should always be checked and ‘pulled in' to tune, but with an organist's complete piston-setter freedom, this traditional tuning method may not prove quite right for every combination. If ranks are selected at random from different choruses — even different departments — the carefully 'pulled' tuning, balancing the sound board wind requirements, can be thrown out of equilibrium.

It is not easy for an organ tuner to suggest to an eminent organist, who has a fancy for an unusual combination, that it might be better not to use 'that' particular registration. I remember my approach to a certain organist on one occasion; it was rather tentative, and I felt somewhat apprehensive — rather like the ward room orderly who has to tell a portly admiral that all the rissoles have been eaten - but then, I should not have been concerned. The better the organist the more understanding they seem to be; Simon Preston was quite charming.

Henry Willis III I remember, was most particular in his approach to every aspect of organ building soundboard robbing was a tuning problem he was very much aware of. Many of his organs were consequently built with soundboards using Pitman actions. These actions used a system which provided a separate pallet for every pipe, and every rank with its own

- wind supply, overcoming much of the wind-robbing problem.

These actions have proved very successful over many years but should an action fail, all the

pipes on the soundboard must be removed to lift the upperboards to gain access to the action for repair. This is obviously an expensive operation and there is one organ I know that has had an odd missing note for years. Also these actions are pneumatically worked, usually from an electric primary underaction. However, the simplicity and reliability of the conventional slider soundboard seems to have won the day, being suitable for either tracker, pneumatic or electric

action operation.

Of course, Henry Willis III expected his tuners to maintain his organs to the highest standards whatever their design. He could turn up unexpectedly to try an organ after tuning, and all the tuners I assisted in my apprenticeship days meticulously laid the Willis middle octave temperament and tuned the instrument thoroughly in case he tried it. Many of the important London churches like All Souls, Langham Place, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, were within easy reach of the workshop at Bermondsey. The console was also expected to be left in a good condition, it was standard Willis practice for the brass music hooks to be polished and the key ivories cleaned on every tuning visit.

I was fortunate to work with one of the best of Willis's tuners at the time — well, I thought he was. This was "Bob" Stephens, who could coax even the most wayward organ into perfect tune. With his dark brown eyes and seriously receding black Brylcreemed hair, Mr. Stephens had something of the Italian Mafia about him. But in truth, he was a true Socialist in the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists mould, always considering his fellow man before himself. In the early sixties, most tuning work was undertaken using public transport, but Bob cycled everywhere and encouraged his assistants to do the same. As we worked throughout South London, and into the suburbs, we often covered the ground far more quickly than those who waited for buses that never came.

For expeditions outside London we took the tram, usually taking advantage of a ‘workmans’ ticket which was much cheaper (we still charged the normal fare on our expenses). But this meant an early start with trains leaving before7.00am.

Paddington station, at this time in the morning, was not as it is now. These were still the days of steam, when the station had echoes of our imperial past and trains that ran on time. A train, having just arrived, stood patiently at its platform, its engine, a mechanical muscle-bound monster, radiating the heat of its exertions after a long haul. Catching its breath, it bellowed smoke and steam enveloping the station with that deliciously evocative ‘railway station' smell. Quickly clambering aboard our train, and with the "clomp! clomp!" of carriage doors and the guard's whistle, we were off!

We were heading for Reading and its fine Town Hall organ. It was not long before I was seated at the console, sitting between the two Herculean wooden figures that supported the

front case of this impressive Willis organ. The organ was regularly used and maintained in those days, although (he lingering whiff of stale tobacco smoke at the console betrayed the hall's many uses.

Tuning organs of this size required that certain skill and expertise that Mr. Stephens had acquired over many years. The organ builders back at the workshop, although skilful in their own fields, failed to understand the more intricate requirements of tuning. Henry Willis III did, and was appreciative of his craftsman's abilities. Trying an organ following a tuning, would be greatly pleased with a "well pulled" instrument and would not have been looking for 'wobbles' with just a mixture drawn. He would expect an organ to be fully tuned to its choruses. Henry III, an eccentric but kindly gentleman, still lingers in my subconscious whilst tuning, especially Willis organs, making sure it is still being done to his high standards and satisfaction.

All organists do, and should, experiment with the full range of tone colours an organ can provide, but should they find a registration that doesn't quite work, they will know, or should suspect, that ‘wind robbing’ is at work.

RSCM News

from Vicky Shepherd

The 2000/2001 RSCM Organ Scholarship has been awarded to Adam Baker, a pupil of Tim Noon and a student at The Kings School, Canterbury.

Adam delights in playing many different organs and. together with his friend Alex Shannon, gave a splendid ‘inaugural’ organ concert last October on the recently restored Sheldwich Parish Church organ. The restoration by Colin K Jilks & Associates was in memory of Geoff Milgate who died last year.

The Canterbury Area RSCM Secretary is Malcolm Simmons of Halfway House, Boughton Road, Sandway, Lenham, Kent, ME17 2HU. Telephone 01622 858202. Malcolm is always very helpful and is a useful contact as I will be standing down as Treasurer from January 2001.

Organists’ Review

Have you paid your annual subscription? The Organists’ Review, published quarterly by IAO (Incorporated Association of Organists) is partly funded from our Association’s subscriptions. This entitles all KCOA members to receive the four quarterly Review publications for the reduced subscription of 14.00. You would have noticed the renewal notice – a yellow card insert – in the last November issue. Don’t be like our President who inadvertently forgot last year and headed a list of ‘named sinners’ sent to our Secretary.

 

Future Meetings

2001

10th February
Christchurch, St. Leonards
David Leeke, recital
Evensong - Linden Singers

10th March
Knockholt
The Sackville Singers

21st April
St. Margaret’s at Cliffe

12th May
East Malling Parish Church
St. Mary’s West Malling
Recital and talk by
Stephen Davies

16th June
Cambridge Colleges
Coach Outing

14th July
Gravesend, Christchurch
AGM

22nd September
President’s Dinner
Chaucer Hotel, Canterbury
Canterbury

 

A History of Organ Builders By Malcolm Hall

Harrison & Harrison in Rochdale

Part One

 

What does the visitor or modern day pilgrim, who climbs the steep pathways which lead from the town centre to the church porch of St. Leonard’s Church, Hythe, find?  An open church certainly, and one which is always pleasantly warm in the winter!  Two real benefits to the casual visitor and a real boon to the organ tuner.  What the visitor does not see, however, are two spectacular views of the outside of St Leonard’s, enjoyed only by those with a head for heights.  The first of these is obtained by climbing to the very top of the organ case from the inside and looking east along the entire length of the building, the second by climbing the triforium steps and proceeding through a small passage inside the chancel arch to a small opening (once used by an actor playing the Voice of God – I know this, because I found the script there!).  From this vantage point it is possible to look either East or West towards the case containing the Harrison Organ.  To start this short look at the life of these organ builders, I want to correct an error which appeared in an earlier article in my history of John Mander (January 2000 journal).  I stated that, in connection with the Willis-on-Wheels in St. Paul’s Cathedral, a letter was sent in error to the ‘Harrisons’ who appeared in the London telephone directory as having to do with organs, but with no Durham connection.  I am almost certain now after reading more about Harrison’s early years that this company must have been founded in the year 1830 by Thomas Harrison, an enterprising young man aged 23 years who set up in business as an organ parts maker to the trade, at premises in Euston Road, London. It is not known where he received his training nor whether he was the first in this line of business, but he quickly found that there was a great demand for his products among the many organ builders scattered throughout the country.  His business prospered so that two years later he felt able to support a wife and, during October 1832, he married Maria Hunt and in due course six sons and three daughters were born, of which James was the eldest son.  I shall mention more of James later on, but it is his brother Thomas Hugh born in 1839 who claims our chief attention.  Little did his father realise that he was founding two dynasties which would achieve fame and fortune in the world of organ building, reaching into the present century when his own contribution would be largely forgotten. 

 

Like many lads of their time the careers of James and Thomas were decided by their father.  He decided that they should have first class training in organ building with the result that both were apprenticed to Henry Willis during the construction of the mighty instrument of St. George’s Hall, Liverpool.  Thomas received tuition in flue and reed voicing from Henry Willis, and after their apprenticeships both became journeyman organ builders.  James joined the staff to William Allen of Bristol where he became manager.  In the autumn of 1861 Tom Harrison decided to set up in business on his own account at Rochdale.  He was then twenty-two and had almost ten years of practical organ building behind him.  Capital for the new venture was probably in part provided by his father; and premises were obtained in Urim Street.  During the first year of trading, Tom carried out work at a cost of 450.000 to the organ of Queen’s College Oxford, which earned him the approbation of Sir Frederick Gore Ouseley and John Stainer.  Ouseley was to become a good friend to Harrison in later years, and it was due to him that Tom Harrison was to entirely reconstruct the ‘Flight’ organ of 1856 at St. Michael’s College, Tenbury, “upon a grand scheme of upwards of seventy stops and four  manuals”, nineteen ranks of which were pedal stops.  The expansion of his business into the larger range of instruments compelled Harrison to seek more commodious premises, and towards the end of 1869 he left his former workshops to take possession of a new factory which, according to a report in the Musical Standard of December 1869, was 135ft by 35ft, three storeys high, with a showroom 40ft high and 65ft long.  There is no mention of the location of this workshop.

 

During the month of August 1863 Tom Harrison married Elizabeth Anne McDowall, the daughter of a leather merchant in Rochdale (a useful family connection!).  The couple were both 23 years of age at the time and between the years 1864 and 1871 four children were born to them; Clara was the first to appear in 1864; Arthur arrived four years later; Grace in 1969 and Harry in 1871.  With a growing reputation, a commodious factory which could handle the large instruments, and a full order-book, there was every indication that the firm would go from strength to strength, and in his middle years the proprietor would become one of the town’s most prominent businessmen.  Fate however was to decree otherwise and less than three years after taking possession of his new factory, Tom Harrison, acting on the advice of his friends, the Rev. J.B. Dykes and Sir Frederick Gore Ouseley, took the bold decision to move to Durham. (The material used in this article is from “The Harrison Story” by  Laurence Elvin).

 

Letters to the Editor

 

Sir – I was interested to read the report, in the August 2000 Journal, of the KCOA visit to Southwark Cathedral last January, and the disappointment of there being no ‘Choral Evensong’.  This was because the trebles and lay clerks were finalising a well earned holiday after Christmas!  In my day – 1930s – we had just the month of August ‘off’; the week after Christmas, and two weeks after Easter and tours abroad weren’t heard of in those days!

 

The views expressed on the Chapel organ of the Greenwich Royal Naval College were shared by The Organ Club – I think most gloried in ‘Wren’ rather than ‘David Wells’!  The instrument seemed to lack ‘bite’ and would be lost when there’s a vast congregation.   Of course there was the ‘Festal Trumpet’?

 

My twin brother – who died in 1987 – and I joined the Choir of St. Alfege, Greenwich, under John Meux, circa 1928.  But the very first service at which we sang was not there.  With the smallest cassocks they could find, my brother and I had to be carried down the outside steps of the church to ground level, because the cassocks hung over our footwear.  Our very first service was a ‘Naval Masonic’ one in  the Chapel – we were all agog with seeing aprons and cuffs, etc.   I know that  at the end, we tore back home (which was over Barclays Bank in Deptford Broadway) to tell mother that we didn’t sing any  ‘Amens’, “So mote it be”!

 

An incident I am reminded of, in Edgar Tom Cooke’s days (1909 – 1953), just post-war at Southwark, was when the Cathedral was very cold with replacement windows still to go in on the south side (they had been blasted out during the war).  It was the time of Hugh Ashdown’s provostship.   Granted, he was a bit poorly with sciatica, and a bit bad tempered at times through it.  Evensong had ended.  He awaited ‘Cookie’ to come down from the 1897 console in the South aisle to ‘have it out’ with him as ‘Evensong’ was far too long etc, etc., all those psalms and canticles not to mention the anthem – all far too long! etc, etc, and Cookie , just looking at his feet, said nothing, and, after a while, slowly raising his head said “Well, you will just have to cut out the sermon – won’t you?”  “And, there’s no provision in the BCP for a sermon at either Matins or Evensong!”  It’s only in the Communion Service, in the rubric “Then shall follow the sermon”!  I don’t know what the outcome was – I escaped! Out of hearing.

Harry Coles, Loughton, Essex

 

Royal Naval College

Greenwich

 

Sir – The mention of the Samuel Green organ at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, in our KCOA August journal reviews, and also again in Harry Coles letter, are interestingly views that have been expressed in the past:-

 

This from “a short account of organs”

(London 1847) by Sir John Sutton.

 

“The writer is obliged to confess that he cannot join in the general admiration of Green’s organ building.  He certainly carried his system of voicing the pipes to the highest degree of delicacy; but what he gained in that way he lost in the general effect of the instrument.   In his diapasons, though the quality of tone is sweet, at the same time is very thin, and his chorus is entirely destitute of either fullness or brilliance of tone.  His choir organs are pretty toned, and would make nice chamber organs, but they want firmness.  One would suppose the Green was anxious in his instruments to emulate the tone of a musical snuff box rather than that of an organ.  His chamber organs are very nice instruments (in short all his organs are chamber organs on a large scale).  He unfortunately brought in a style of organ building which had many imitators, and from which the trade is only just recovering.”

 

This rather supports The Organ Club members’ and our reviewer’s views.  But as an organ builder – who was fortunate to have tuned and maintained this Green organ over some years  - I became, perhaps, more familiar with this instrument than is possible for the more casual listener.

 

Certainly the voicing was, and still is, delicate but there is a beguiling charm and character here not found elsewhere.  The scale of the Great Diapasons is seemingly generous, but they are  voiced with an unusually low ‘cut up’ with wind pressures to match.

 

At the console, the organ sounds rich and full, and he delicacy of the flutes and diapasons is a delight.  The David Wells restoration has certainly revealed Samuel Green’s original 18th Century voicing design, which was previously not only really fully apparent during the summer months, as the Chapel’s central heating played havoc with the soundboard timbers during the winter.

 

However, the Wren Chapel is not an easy building to fill with sound.  It has  a vastness which is not immediately apparent, and any organ – even some of the heavier brutes – would have trouble filling this building.  Those members who had the good fortune to hear the organ in the gallery would, I’m sure agree: Samuel Green may have built “snuff-boxes” elsewhere, but certainly not at Greenwich.

 

Colin Jilks

Sittingbourne, Kent

 

‘An Organist’s Diary’

By Andrew Cesana

 

As I complete my diary at the end of December 2000 I realised I was fortunate to attend the British Institute of Organ Studies conference in North Wales, which was held from 21st to 24th August, and was based at the Howells School, Denbigh.  Although I had a hazardous journey, with the Virgin train arriving 40 minutes late at Crewe and a rain swept journey by bus from Rhyl  station to Denbigh, there was a friendly welcome awaiting me upon my arrival at Howells School.

 

On the Monday evening, the conference began with a lecture by Relf Clark on the  work of Thomas Casson, founder of the Positive Organ Company founded originally in Denbigh.  He had a considerable influence on organ building during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including that of manual doubling onto the pedals, also extensions, chorus build ups and mutations reflected in the work of John Compton later.  However, it was remarked upon that his character as rather unpleasant and, combined with examples of misapplied ingenuity, led to the demise of his firm and subsequently, his foreman Bellamy setting up on his own in Denbigh.

 

On the Tuesday, various instruments were viewed, however we did not start in North Wales but in England.  First Chester Cathedral where the Whiteley/ Hill/ Rushworth & Dreaper instrument was demonstrated by Roger Fisher, (Organist Emeritus, Chester Cathedral) whose demonstrations over the following two days included music by J.S. Bach, played in the early twentieth century style (Cunningham, Darke etc).  At Chester, he played the Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor (Cunningham); additionally, he gave a lecturer about the history of the Cathedral organ.

 

 

Chester Cathedral Organ

 

St. Mary’s church, Eccleston, where the 2nd Duke of Westminster is buried, was the next venue and is a superb example of Victorian architecture by Bodley. Here, after Roger Fisher demonstrated the fine Poyser instrument (another Chester firm), with Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue in C Minor, BWV 537, Valerie Scott, of the Victorian Society, gave an informative account of Bodley’s work and history of the church.  After lunch, a visit was arranged to Eaton Hall, the official residence of the Duke of Westminster which contains a sumptuous chapel designed by Alfred Waterhouse in the French Gothic style and a fine Whitely organ which Roger Fisher demonstrated with Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor BWV 542.  Valerie Scott then gave another informative talk on the work of Alfred Waterhouse and his work.

 

All too soon, it was time to leave the sumptuousness of the fine hall and chapel to move on to Gresford Parish Church, a fine example of Perpendicular architecture, this time in Wales, but with no signs giving details of the services in Welsh! Here, Roger Fisher demonstrated the fine Hill organ of 1912 with more Bach: Chorale Preludes on Liebster Jesu and Ich ruf zu Dir as well as the famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565.  A CD of this instrument is available with Ian Tracey playing favourite masterpieces.

 

The  last port of call was St. Asaph Cathedral.  Its instrument was restored by Wood of Huddersfield in 1998, retaining much of the Hill pipework of the 19th century, but with a new case designed by David Gache who has designed many fine cases including Lancing College Chapel in Sussex, which the Association visited in 1991.  Graham Eccles, the Cathedral Organist there, demonstrated the instrument with: Bach’s Prelude and Fugue  in C major BWV 545.  Trio Sonata no. 5 in C major WVW 529 , 1st movement Whitlock’s Folk Tune, (a must for all KCOA members!)  and Mulet’s Tue es Petra to end with.  Afterwards, an opportunity was given for members to play and no doubt it can be guessed who was one of them!  One more impromptu visit was arranged after dinner that evening, namely to visit the Hope Jones at Llanrheadr which was sympathetically restored by Wood of Huddersfield.  Its Pedal 16ft Diaphone was frequently photographed and well trodden upon.  Even Nigel Ogden, the Organist Entertains presenter must have wondered whether this impromptu visit would have been ideal for a future broadcast with renditions of the Teddy Bear’s Picnic!

 

Wednesday morning brought a start to proceedings that was far from gentle.  Christ Church, Llanfairfechan, contains a fine three manual 1884 Hill, which was demonstrated by Paul Joslin in a full blooded performance, Ophicleide and all, of Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C major BWV 545.  A CD  of this instrument is due to be issued at some future stage.  The next stop was another fine organ at St. David’s Church, Bangor, with more Bach played by Roger Fisher.  But the main stop that morning was to Bangor Cathedral which houses an instrument by Hill, but enlarged by Compton in 1954.  Martin Brown, the Assistant Organist, gave a demonstration recital, which included music by Bach, parry and Naji Hakim and, to conclude with, a full blooded performance of Mendelssohn’s War March of the Priests. The instrument is to be rebuilt at some future stage by David Wells, but one interesting aspect is that the Solo division is to have a Vile D’Orchestre added!  I wonder if anyone would like to comment on that.

 

A journey along the Conway Valley brought us through beautiful scenery to Seion Presbyterian Chapel, Llanrwst, which has reputedly the last Hill instrument in existence built before the merger with Norman and Beard in 1914, but was a boneshaker! With its full blooded choruses and reeds it could certainly lead a packed chapel and still not be drowned out. Roger Fisher demonstrated again with Bach’s Toccata, Adagio and Future in C major BWV 564.

 

After the bone shaking experience in Llanwrst, Ystym Colwyn Hall, Meifod, the beautiful country home of Dr and Mr Malcolm Clarke, contains a two-manual Peter Collins instrument in a totally different style.  This was a call for Roger Fisher to demonstrate in the Baroque style with Bach’s Parita Sei Gegrussel, Jesu Gulig BWV 768.  Roger Fisher has made a CD of the instrument and it was his last demonstration before leaving for a recital in Edinburgh the following day.

 

However, the last instrument of the day was the fine Father Willis organ at Welshpool Parish Church, (St. Mary’s) demonstrated by Huw Davies, which has Great reeds that could penetrate for miles.  The day ended with the Conference Dinner and an excellent speech by Kerr Jamison.

 

The final day centered  around Denbigh and incorporated the following instruments: first, Swan Lane Chapel, a fine Bellamy organ and chapel, the meeting included a lecture by Paul Joslin on the work of Bellamy following his separation from Casson, Capel Mawr (Young 1905), Capel Pendref (Whiteley), St Mary’s Parish Church, (Hill, Casson and Bellamy) and St. David’s, now Howells School Chapel (unknown), each instrument superbly demonstrated by Geoffrey Morgan, Assistant Organist of Guildford Cathedral and conference delegate.  Certainly, a lot of hill walking, with other organs of such good quality thrown in as well, made this a successful conference organised by Paul Joslin.  Will the KCOA visit there one of these days?  We shall see.

 

Sadly, the October coach outing to Hampton Court had to be cancelled, but this did not deter our President and President Elect from joining the Bromley and Croydon Association for their meeting that Saturday in London.  Visits were made to: the Methodist Central Hall, demonstrated by Martin Ball, and the new William Drake organ in the Undercroft Chapel, Houses of Parliament, demonstrated by Tom Mohan (researcher in the House of Lords and Curator of the organ, formerly Organ Scholar of Westminster Cathedral) with music by Bach (Concertos), van de Kerckhoven and Gigout’s Scherzo.    The last port of call was the Mander organ at St. Matthew’s, Westminster, in the building which was partially rebuilt after a disastrous fire in 1977.  The 18th century style instrument was demonstrated at short notice – with music by Stanley, Couperin and improvised Tierce en Taille.  All in all, a memorable day.

 

Another association meeting, albeit briefly, that I attended was the East Surrey Association visit, at the beginning of December, to the Royal Russell School in Croydon.  The Director of Music, Hugh Sutton, made the members feel very welcome.  I couldn’t unfortunately get to the second part at St. John’s Church, Shirley, to see the Frobenius , due to a prior commitment, but I had an opportunity to use the new Croydon Tramlink – I thoroughly enjoyed it!

 

The B.I.O.S. conference in Bromley Parish Church in November, was a great success and included lectures by Nicholas Plumley, on J.W. Walker and Sons, Gerard Brooks on the French Symphonic repertoire, the  A.G.M and a marvelous recital by Gerard Brooks consisting of music by Chauvet, Gigout, Dallier and Boely.  Also successful were the recitals at the French Church, Leicester Square, by Nigel Ogden, and then the French masters, namely Francois Henri Houbart (La Madeleine, Paris), who ended his recital with two marvelous improvisations.

 

Sadly, I have to mention the deaths, first of M. Jean Philippe Pierre, Douai, following a heart attack at the wheel of his car in June. Our sympathy goes to his widow.  His successor has yet to be appointed.

 

Secondly, and closer to home, that of James Levett, on 30th November, 2000 at the age of 91 and Assistant Organist of Rochester Cathedral form 1930 until 1977.  He was an Association member for some years.

 

Affectionately known as Joe, I studied with him from 1980 till 1982.  I remember going to his house in St. Margaret’s Street, for my lessons on the three-manual Slater organ there, Tuba and all.  His horn rimmed glasses used to be one of those aspects of his character; although this could give him a stern appearance, he nevertheless had a kindly manner.  I remember as a nine year old boy, I climbed up to the Cathedral organ loft, thanks to one of the Auxiliary Choir members, who asked him if I could climb the veritably tight staircase. “Very Well”, came his reply, “but don’t let him touch anything!”.  I expect that the Tuba was included in that remark!  I was pleased to represent our Association at his funeral, which was held at Rochester Cathedral on Friday 15th December 2000.

 

Thirdly, that of Maurice Burren, formerly a pupil of Harold Bennett and Organist of St. Nicholas Church, Strood, from 1946 till 1989 and was, in fact, my predecessor.  However, he was not a KCOA member but a loyal servant of the Church.  He will also be greatly missed.

 

On a happier note, Tom Stocksley, former member of this Association and Organist of the Royal Dockyard Church, Chatham from 1971 until 1982, when the church closed, celebrated  his 80th birthday last September.   He still enjoys his retirement with Olwen and his family and is currently a member of the Bedfordshire Organists Association, so he keeps active in his retirement.   Ad Multos Annos, Tom!  He sends his regards to each of the KCOA members.

 

Choral Matinsby Stephen Beet

 

“but this only serves to increase our pain”

 

Were you, as I was, brought up to attend Choral Matins? Countless Anglicans must hold this, the first service of the Prayer Book, dear to their hearts.

 

When did you last attend such a service, complete with the Psalms for the day and the Canticles – Venite, Jubilate, Te Deum, and Benedictur? Was it last Sunday?  If so, the chances are that you attended one of the sixteen cathedrals or choral foundations which still sing this service regularly.  But recent research suggests that this once most popular Anglican Service is in grave danger of being killed off because it does not fit in with ‘modern patterns of worship’.   In other words, those who wish to see the old ways continue must do as they are told and meekly accept that the only form of worship acceptable to God is a  modern language Communion Service.  True, the choir may be allowed to sing some of the psalms or canticles from the old service, but this usually serves only to increase our pain and to remind us of just how much  has been lost through abandoning the beautiful and scriptural services of 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

 

In my opinion, this all began the imposition of modern language Bible readings, too often of doubtful accuracy.  I was astonished to hear at a recent service  that a man went down to a certain place to “see what someone was getting up to!”

 

With the introduction of the revision  to the prayer book including Rites A and B and then ASB, Matins began to disappear from our parish churches.  Now it is the Cathedrals of our land which are neglecting to sing God’s praises using any of the scriptural language that God himself gave to His Church.

 

It is shocking to have to report that of the seventy or more Choral Foundations, only sixteen sing Matins with any sort of regularity whilst only four are listed as having Choral Matins as their main morning service: three of these are in London.  From every corner of the land we keep hearing that our beloved Prayer Book is under threat.  Where Matins is advertised it is sometimes, as at one Cathedral, cancelled  at the whim of the authorities, and a Eucharist is substituted.    When an explanation is requested, dismissive and patronising statements are offered in reply.  I have even been informed by one canon that I am in need of enlightenment in these matters!  I have been so concerned about this state of affairs that I have suggested that the Prayer Book Society might take up the matter.   In the meantime, I have decided to collect whatever statistical information I can on the matter, and I should very much appreciate your help in alerting me to the situation in cathedrals or choral foundations known to you.

 

Over the next few months, every Cathedral in our land will be invited to respond to a questionnaire on the subject.   I feel sure that members of our Campaign will feel that the championing of Choral Matins is a very worthy cause and not unrelated to our own work.  So many wonderful settings of the Morning canticles are very seldom heard now, and  before long a considerable portion of the marvellous legacy of such music will disappear forever.   Indeed the tradition of singing the psalms for the day is already lost in many Cathedrals.  So now we have morning psalms in the evening or stand to risk never hearing half of the appointed psalms.   The only other recourse available to those who wish to hear much of this music is to turn to some of the superb recordings which have been made over the years and which fortunately still seem to be obtainable.  But for how long will organists, choirmasters and choirs have the time and application to learn music that they will not have the chance to sing as part of their daily worship?

 

‘The Princess Royal’

 

The 5th October 2000 hosted a special Millennium occasion for the retired senior officers of the Royal Corps of Signals  at the Royal Signals headquarters at Blandford, Dorset.  This was under the watchful eye, and ear, of their Colonel-in-Chief H.M. The Princess Royal.

 

On this occasion the Corps Band performed, from its repertoire, the march Signal Salute, which was composed by our Treasurer Charles Skingle for the 75th Anniversary of the formation of The Royal Corp of Signals.

 

The opening and closing, motif of this fine march is cleverly based on the letters RSA in Morse Code.   Charles provided an organ arrangement, which was recorded on CD by Reg Adams, playing the organ of Folkestone Parish Church.  This version was subsequently transcribed for military band for the Royal Corps use.

 

The march was also used during the Remembrance Day Services at Canterbury Cathedral, played by the band of the Price of Wales Royal Regiment.  What other Association can boast such talents?  Well done Charles!

 

 The Blower

By Brian Wigglesworth

 

It is well known that pipe organs do not work well without a blower.  However it is less well known that blowers rarely receive very much  in the way of loving care and attention (if we disregard ‘old Ben’, who used to waggle the handle up and down with such enthusiasm).

 

Blowers come in all sizes, from the modern ‘little black box’ (hidden somewhere in ‘the depths’ and promptly forgotten), to vast iron electrical contraptions, which were not uncommon in the instruments of the early 1920s.

 

Even so, in some rural organs it was not unusual to find a ‘Water Blower’: I first met one of these when I acted as ‘the 17th Deputy  Organist’ at a small church in Hertfordshire (where they let me play the ‘Amen’ if there was a ‘Z’ in the month).

 

These blowers worked in much the same way as a two-cylinder petrol engine, except that instead of using  petrol-vapour and a spark to move the pistons (from which the crank rods worked below the bellows), high pressure water was used, with the ‘exhausted’ water fed down  a drain.

 

With age, petrol engines tend to ‘use’ oil and, with age, water engines tend to ‘use’ water, so by the time I arrived (1950) the floor beneath the organ resembled a paddling pool.  In addition, the crank rod mechanism was ‘well worn’ so that the music was accompanied by a wheeze, groan, clank and ‘splashing ’ noises and – to put it politely – the wind pressure was ‘unsteady’.  Finally, in winter, it was not unknown for the whole lot to freeze solid. (I didn’t stay long enough).

 

It may surprise some of our younger members to hear that even as late as 1950, quite large areas of the Country still used D.C. (Direct Current) as their local Electricity Supply.   Birmingham, Bristol, Luton, Middleborough, Nottingham, Reading and Tunbridge Wells, among others, had to wait a long time for the arrival of their new 240 Volt, A.C. Supply and, when it did arrive, several pipe organs were simply closed down.

 

(The Organ in the Salomon’s Centre near Tunbridge Wells is still waiting for a new blower, among other things).

 

As a Tuner’s Apprentice, I met several of these D.C. contraptions, all of which were famous (or infamous)  for their weird and wonderful starting procedures.  No push buttons here.  They had huge ‘Quadrants’ and control arms, because big D.C. motors  cannot be started by simply applying the full working voltage.

 

To start the motor, move the control arms s-l-o-w-l-y across the quadrant studs, in time with the increase in motor speed.  Rush – and blow the fuse!  The last stud activates a solenoid to hold the control arm, until released by the ‘Off’ switch.  Stand clear when switching off- because the control arm will return ‘smartly’!

Many of these blowers were much older than me and had received little in the way of recent maintenance, so by the time we got them running there was always a great deal of rumbling, rattling – and a certain amount of ‘wheezing’.

 

In one instrument, this ‘wheezing’ was particularly severe and we were intrigued to discover that we could control the ‘wheeze’ by opening the blower room door!  When that organ was installed, nobody had noticed that the Blower room (below ground level) had no separate ventilation, so the only ‘air inlet’ was around the blower room door!  No wonder Full Organ was ‘difficult’.  But we did manage to persuade the owners to fit some ‘louvres’ into the blower room door panels.

 

Another problem of the day was that very few of these blowers were fitted with air filters which meant that we frequently saw metal labial pipes that had grown a ‘moustache’ of assorted soot and soil around the pipe mouth, which did nothing for the original voicing or the general condition of the instrument.

 

Then there was the day when we were sent to an organ that we were told ‘would not start’.  They were quite right, the organ ‘would not start’ because the blower shaft would not turn!

 

It did not take long to discover why that blower would not turn.  The original manufacturer’s paint, over the lubrication screw-down covers, had never been disturbed, which meant that for several years nobody had ever put any fresh oil onto any of the shaft bearings.  We had to work very hard to ‘revive’ that one.  (there should have been a separate contract with the blower manufacturer). Hopefully, fifty years on, things are a little better?

 

‘High Honours’

For a young member

 

Amanda Wakelin-Smith, one of our younger members is a remarkable young woman.   She has recently gained her Bachelor of Arts Degree (with honours) for Music and Art after studying for three years at Brunel University, Twickenham.

 

Her oboe exam concert performance was faultless, playing several major works, with piano accompaniment, by Marcello, Hummell, and Gershwin.  There have also been exhibitions of her paintings.

 

Her musical beginnings started with piano lessons at the age of seven, with Charles Skingle, progressing to the organ by the age of ten and then additionally the oboe at the age of twelve.

 

Amanda has been an enthusiastic member of the Kent Youth Orchestra, going on tour with them to Spain and Holland.  She also played the piano for the evening ‘light entertainment’ on a week’s trip to Malta, a visit she will always remember.

 

Although she now lives in West London, music still holds great sway in her life, having undertaken a number of playing engagements.  But work also includes accounts management punctuated more recently, as a mixture of holiday and work, by two summer seasons as a Pianist on a cruise liner. (sounds like a lot of fun!)

 

ObituaryJoe Levett

 

Regrettably, as members may know, Mr James Levett died at the end of November 2000.  He was aged 91.  Joe’s funeral service was held at Rochester Cathedral on Friday 15th December.  The service was well attended and members of the Cathedral Special Choir and the former Auxiliary Choir, which he originally founded, sang the music.

 

It was fitting that the service was a full sung Eucharist, with settings by Standford in B Flat and F.  The communion anthem was Wesley’s Lead me Lord and the final organ voluntary, by Whitlock, the Toccata from the Plymouth Suite played by Roger Sayer, using the Tuba to good effect at the end.

 

The last time Joe played at the Cathedral was in 1985 as part of a composite recital, including Dr. Ashfield, when he played Whitlock’s Fidelis and Fanfare from Four Extemporisations.

 

His association with Rochester and its Cathedral was a long one, being born at John Jasper’s Gateway, Northgate, Rochester on 7th May 1909, and christened in Rochester Cathedral on 6th June 1909.  Joe’s father was Head Verger of the Cathedral, which ensured he was brought up in an ecclesiastical environment from his earliest childhood.  He started piano lessons at the age of seven with Hector Shallcross, the Assistant Cathedral organist, and from these modest beginnings, he too became the Assistant Cathedral organist, a position he held for forty-seven years from 1930-1977.

 

Sadly at this service, we said farewell to a much beloved friend, this congenial old owl with his trademark spectacles.  No more would our elbows be caressed in friendly persuasion and our attention captured by his reassuring but knowing look.  This was a remarkable man, the like of which we shall not see again.

 

Secretarial Skills?

 

We have been fortunate to have Jackie Howard as our Secretary for the past two years but, as things often do, they have now conspired against her (work, exams and the like).  Regretfully she will not be able to continue as our secretary beyond July 2001.

 

Do you have secretarial abilities?  There are possibly a number of very capable members who could help us in this respect, even though they may not have  considered this in the past.

 

If you feel you could help in some way, please do not hesitate to make contact with either Jackie Howard, or Colin Jilks, who can talk you through any hesitations

 

Our Association has been very fortunate in the past, and we hope the future will be similarly served. 

 

Gordon Lucas -  A short profile

 

Birth and our  inevitable demise are thrust upon not only unexpectedly, but, alas never at a time of our choosing.  The lot of our good friend Gordon Lucas was August 4th 1935, born with his twin brother David, at their family home, Old Brompton, Gillingham, Kent.

 

This was during those, seemingly, long years of the 1930’s depression, although his parents were, perhaps more happily chosen.  His father was a Master Mariner and, at the time, Master of the pleasure steamer Royal Daffodil owned by the New Medway Steam Packet Company.  Mother was involved with running her father’s photographic business.  Gordon was too young to remember the 1936 Jarrow Crusade, but its effect on the nation would have touched his family during his early years.  Also, with the ominous approach of war, the family moved house to Pump Lane, Rainham.

 

At the outbreak of war, Gordon’s father, William, enlisted as a Naval Officer in the Royal Naval Reserve taking part in the evacuation of British  troops  from Dunkirk.  He also served in Gibraltar, Malta, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Singapore, earning a distinguished service record, being mentioned in dispatches in 1942, and awarded the MBE in 1948.

 

Gordon Lucas

 

During the war, life continued with an apparent normality for Gordon and his two brothers, twin brother David and elder brother Leon.  Their father away at sea, the missed days from school, the frequent visits to their garden air raid shelter (their Anderson was apparently quite cosy), the sound of enemy bombers and anti-aircraft artillery;  this was war-time normality for Gordon.  Normality was only broken, Gordon remembers in 1945 with the street party celebrations and end of war excitement.

 

The family were closely associated with Holy Trinity Church, Old Brompton, where Grandfather Morehen was Vicar’s Warden for some twenty-five years.  During the war years the family attended the Naval Church in Chatham Dockyard.  At the end of the war, Gordon and his brothers joined the church choir and also began piano lessons.  They had lessons from a Mr. Onslow (Gordon is sure that was his name?) in Second Avenue, Gillingham.   The church choir attended many important memorial services in London and at other Royal Navy establishments, it was also involved in a great number of launching and commissioning ceremonies.

 

Gordon was educated first at Twydall Primary School, then Rainham Boys School, leaving in 1952 aged seventeen.  Deferring his National Service he started an Electrical Engineering apprentice at Chatham Dockyard.  By 1957 he was fully qualified, but still continued to work in the Dockyard and was still an active member of the Dockyard choir, although now a tenor.  About this time he also became a member of the Gillingham Parish Church Amateur Operatic Society where Mr E.W. Chaney was the musical Director, as well as Organist of the Parish Church.  It was Mr. Chaney, a founder member of our Kent County Organists’ Association, who first introduced Gordon to the association in the very late 1950s.  Soon after joining the Operatic society Gordon was singing in a capella male voice quartet, The Grange Quartet, whose members were drawn from the Dockyard church Choir and the Operatic Society.

 

In 1961 Gordon joined the teaching staff of the Dockyard Technical College and Apprentices Training Centre, Collingwood, Chatham, as an Electrical Engineering instructor.   It was during this period, whilst an instructor, that his ‘keyboard’ explorations started.   He was asked by the College Principal to play the piano for the College Annual Prize Giving, followed some months later by a further request – to play the organ for the College’s Annual Christmas Carol Service.  This was Gordon’s introduction to playing the organ and it was this event which prompted him to have organ lessons with Mr. Chaney.  By the mid 1960s he was helping with the playing at the Dockyard Church and from 1967 – 1972, he was deputising at St Mary’s Church, Gillingham Green.

 

Gordon left the Dockyard Technical College in September  1968 to take up a teaching post at the North West Kent College at Gravesend lecturing in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.  1972 brought Gordon’s appointment as Assistant Organist at the Dockyard Church, a position he held for eight years.  As well as his duties at the Dockyard Church, he deputised regularly at various churches in Medway Towns, especially during the summer months when resident organists were away on holiday.

 

Since April 1980 Gordon has been Assistant Organist of St. Margaret’s Church, Rainham.   He particularly enjoys accompanying the Rainham Choir, and not just at St. Margaret’s but in many other churches and especially in Rochester Cathedral.  When time permits he still helps out at other churches.

 

After thirty-one happy years of teaching he had the opportunity to take early retirement in 1992, however he did continue as a part-time lecturer for another three years.  Since retiring from teaching, Gordon has had more time for hobbies and his other many varied interests: cooking, gardening, table tennis, badminton and especially, voluntary work for The Stroke Association.  Regrettably, Gordon’s father suffered from a major debilitating stroke some twelve years before he died in 1978.  His mother, who Gordon looked after for many years, died in 1983 aged eighty-one.

 

In more recent years Gordon has enjoyed travelling, particularly to Australia, and when in the Perth area, he is always expected to play the organ for the morning service at his cousins’ local Anglican Parish Church, St. Augustine’s Como.

 

Gordon offers the view that Australia possesses two great organs:-

(1)    The very remarkable instrument by T.C. Lewis at St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne, the only Anglican Cathedral he found in Australia, which still maintains a full weekly Choral tradition.

 

(2)    The Grand Organ in Sydney Town Hall built by William Hill.  The Town Hall itself a structure of lavish proportions, and it is no surprise that the original designers of the organ conceived an instrument on the grandest possible scale.  The Pedal Organ has a Contra Trombone 64ft stop (full-length) and the Great Organ has a Contra Bourdon 32ft.  Gordon wonders how often one needs a manual 32ft stop?

 

Some of its more recent exploits in Australia have included climbing the Gloucester Tree, which is a huge “Karri” tree some 65 (213ft) high, probably about 250 years old and has a cabin situated on top.  This was once used as a fire watchtower in the Gloucester National Park, Pemberton, Western Australia.  The method of ascent and descent, for which Gordon received a Certificate of Bravery, is by means of a spiral ladder consisting of metal pegs driven into the trunk of a tree.

 

Another fascination was viewing the Ningaloo Reef, at Coral Bay, in a glass bottom boat.  This reef forms a 200km (125 miles) barrier along the North West coast and forms a lagoon rich in sea-life.   He has also travelled on one of the longest rail routes in the world form Sydney to Perth some 4,300km (2,700 miles), on board the Indian Pacific train which crosses the Nullarbor plain, the longest straight stretch of railway track in the world.

 

Climbing the world famous Sydney Harbour Bridge was a highly exhilarating experience for Gordon, a spellbinding three-hour bridge climb, providing one has a head for heights and enjoy climbing vertical ladders.  The top of the bridge is some 134 metres (440ft) above sea level and, once on top, the ultimate reward is the view of the world’s most beautiful harbour, city, and surrounds.

Over the years Gordon has been able to combine his work experience, and enthusiasm for the organ in particular, with the maintenance and repairing of electronic organs.  A local organist and enthusiast had an ambition of adding pipework to his existing home built three manual and pedal electronic instrument.   He obtained the pipework and blower etc, from redundant church organs and made new reservoirs and soundboards.   Part of this interesting project for Gordon was to design and construct for him a solid state note switching system.  The instrument can now be played in the following ways:

 

(1)    Three manual and pedal electronic organ.

 

(2)    Two manual and pedal pipe organ -  Great 4, Choir 4, and 2 Pedal stops.

 

(3)    Combination of electronics and pipes.

 

 Gordon has also researched and written two interesting and informative booklets.

 

(1)    The Organs of St. Margaret’s Church, Rainham Kent.

This booklet deals with the history of the choir from 1827 and the Organs from 1840 to the present day.

 

(2)    A Brief History of the Mission Hall, Lower Rainham

This booklet deals with the history of the Mission Hall on Lower Rainham Road, which was, in fact, a small Church of England School dating from 1875.

 

Gordon’s twin brother, David, is also an organist and was the Organist and Choirmaster of Holy Trinity Church, Twydall for many years.  But their characters are very individual -   they were not identical twins – and consequently, as children, enjoyed normal sibling rivalries.  Gordon is perhaps the more reserved – dare we say refined?  But beneath this gentlemanly propriety, betrayed by that raised eyebrow and twinkle in the eye when things amuse, lies a charmingly mischievous enthusiasm, not only for organs and choral music, but for most things past and present.   Gordon has been a loyal member of our Association for over forty years and we hope, and trust, he will grace us with his presence for many more.

 

Front Cover by Gary Tollerfield

 

The Journal’s front cover photograph is of the Henry Jones organ of 1879 in West Malling Parish Church.    On the 12th May this year, we shall be visiting both East and West Malling churches and will hear a recital by Stephen Davies on this organ.  The latter part of the 19th Century was a time of prolific activity in organ building, and the West Malling organ is a very attractive example of the typical and almost standardised “pipe-rack” design of the later Victorian period.

 

 

Photo Gary Tollerfield

 

Though not obvious from the photograph, the organ stands ideally sited on the West Gallery, the original stencilled pipe decoration in blue, green, red and gold looking very pretty.   Not to be compared with the architectural cases of two hundred years earlier, these Victorian organs have a charm that is once again being appreciated, both musically and visually.

 

Photographs

Front cover Gary Tollerfield
The organ of Pembroke College, Cambridge which we visited in June was built in
1980 by N P Mander and sits exquisitely in the Smith/Quarles oak organ case of 1708.
The front pipes also date from this period or earlier


"THE KENT COUNTY ORGANISTS' ASSOCIATION welcomes new members with an
interest in the organ and its music. Also those who enjoy visiting churches
with an appreciation of architecture and heritage. Membership of the Association
is not based on the ability to play; we welcome equally those who enjoy
listening, as well as those who enjoy playing".