On Saturday 20th June we held a Pipe organ restoration open morning to show the progress on the Willis Pipe organ as the organ builders continue to reassemble it. This was in response to feedback from many visitors at the Pipe Organ Open Day in September 2014 who wanted to see inside the organ again. Steve and Sam of FH Browne & Sons travelled from Kent to show the inside of the organ to people who climbed the gallery stairs. People peered into the soundboard action (the front covers were removed to show the leather and wooden pallets held closed over the pipe holes with metal springs), looked at the under action leather motors, the slider action and the beautifully polished and restored soundboards upon which the pipes will stand.
Some of us were invited inside the organ to walk carefully across the Great soundboard and step into the Choir box, over the new soundboard for the new Piccolo, Tierce and Nazard pipes and onto the passage board beside the main Choir soundboard. One person was invited into the Swell box to see the new Waldhorn soundboard up close.
Downstairs we had a small exhibition showing the restoration progress photos near the refreshment tables. Several people who had seen information about the open morning in advance had come especially, others wandered into the church from the High Street out of sheer curiosity, as we had a notice at the street door that invited them to see INSIDE the Willis organ.
It was lovely to observe people who had never thought about how a pipe organ works have 'light bulb' moments as they began to appreciate the complexity and ingenuity of the various mechanisms that make the pipes speak.
At the end of the morning we were pleased that the refreshments had raised £119.50 for the organ casework which was a bonus on top of the main purpose of the morning of explaining the organ action to the community.
More photos can be found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78058413@N06/sets/72157655568051726
Words and photos by Anna Page