Organ restoration progress

Organ restoration progress

In 1967-9 when the organ was installed in St Mary and St Giles church, Starmer Shaw the organ builders ensured that everything was working, however many parts (particularly in the console) were in need of restoration or replacement.

In 1989 Henry Willis IV moved the console from the north gallery to the Choir gallery to make it easier to maintain the console which contained cloth bound wiring from 1932. Maintenance and cleaning work was carried out over the years to keep the instrument playing.

In 2011, after 5 years of fundraising the console was completely rewired and restored by FH Browne & Sons of Kent. In 2014-2015 the same company of organ builders have carried out a comprehensive restoration of the rest of the instrument. This involved removing all the pipes, cleaning and repairing them followed by the removal of the soundboards, bellows, wind trunking and stop action and taking these large items away for complete overhaul. All the leathers on the bellows and pallet motors have been replaced, all moving action parts have been cleaned and repaired and reassembled.

Additional action has been built for the new pipes which were prepared for but never installed in 1932 (Tierce, Nazard, Piccolo and Viol) and for the pipes which Willis III installed in 1932 but which were stolen in 1962 (16’ Waldhorn). These new pipes, installed in 2015, have been made to copy Willis pipe scales to match the rest of the organ. This has meant the building frame holding the different sections of the organ has been altered and brought forward to accommodate the enlarged instrument. The organ had casework when in St George’s Church Edinburgh but this did not come to Stony Stratford. New casework for the front pipes was designed and was built in 2015.

You can read about the progress of the restoration work in a series of blog posts published while the work took place.

Pipe Organ Restoration Open Days during restoration work

SMSG Willis Pipe Organ Open Day 12 September Press Release

L-R: Young Organist Jacob Collins, Project leader Anna Page, Events leader David Scrutton, Volunteer Dave King and Organ builder apprentice Richard Goldup of FH Browne & Sons hold a pipe from the Willis organ at SMSG

L-R: Young Organist Jacob Collins, Project leader Anna Page, Events leader David Scrutton, Volunteer Dave King and Organ builder apprentice Richard Goldup of FH Browne & Sons hold a pipe from the Willis organ at SMSG

These took place on 13th September 2014, 20th June 2015 and  12th September 2015 which gave people opportunities to see inside a magnificent Willis pipe organ and discover how it works before its restoration was completed.

St Mary and St Giles school pupil aged 8 standing on the Great soundboard at the organ open morning June 2015 with Steve Bayley of FH Browne & Sons

St Mary and St Giles school pupil aged 8 standing on the Great soundboard at the organ open morning June 2015 with Steve Bayley of FH Browne & Sons

Blowing a pipe at the September 2014 organ open day helped by Steve Bayley of FH Browne & Sons

Blowing a pipe at the September 2014 organ open day helped by Steve Bayley of FH Browne & Sons