During the first week of December 2015 the Waldhorn pipes were being stayed up on a temporary pipe support in the organ builder's workshop and voiced.  Voicing means making the pipes speak properly after they are made.  For reeds this is quite a complicated process as it involves slightly curving a metal tongue for each pipe which covers the slot on a hollow metal tube in the reed boot.  When the pipe is blown the tongue vibrates allowing air to pass into the hollow tube from the boot and up the resonator, which amplifies the resulting sound.  Father Henry Willis was well known for the sound of his pipe organs, he experimented with methods of improving pipe speech and volume, resulting in a number of technical and sound innovations.  His son Vincent was a talented reed voicer.

Stays for Waldhorn pipes

Stays for Waldhorn pipes

Waldhorn pipe stays awaiting the pipes

Waldhorn pipe stays awaiting the pipes

Waldhorn pipes carefully stayed up using rack boards on pillars for the boots and cloth ties around the resonators

Waldhorn pipes carefully stayed up using rack boards on pillars for the boots and cloth ties around the resonators

Waldhorn pipes in FH Browne & Sons workshop

Waldhorn pipes in FH Browne & Sons workshop

Waldhorn pipes in FH Browne & Sons workshop

Waldhorn pipes in FH Browne & Sons workshop

Waldhorn pipes have spotted metal resonators

Waldhorn pipes have spotted metal resonators

On 14th December the organ builders brought the Waldhorn pipes to the church and started installing them onto their soundboard in the Swell.  We arrived during this process and I was allowed to go inside the organ to photograph the Swell pipes.

Waldhorn pipes in plastic protection prior to installation in the Willis

Waldhorn pipes in plastic protection prior to installation in the Willis

Waldhorn pipes in plastic protection prior to installation in the Willis

Waldhorn pipes in plastic protection prior to installation in the Willis

Pedal Bourdon on the left, Swell pipes on the right

Pedal Bourdon on the left, Swell pipes on the right

View of the Walhorn during installation

View of the Walhorn during installation

Swell pipes while Waldhorn was being installed

Swell pipes while Waldhorn was being installed

Installing the Waldhorn

Installing the Waldhorn

Swell top note chest

Swell top note chest

Pedal Bourdon pipes

Pedal Bourdon pipes

On the 15th December we returned at lunchtime to find that the 16ft Waldhorn pipes were all now in place  and regulating of pipes was taking place (in between school Nativity play performances and rehearsals).  I was allowed inside both sides of the organ this time to take photos of pipes in the different sections.  I was also delighted when Steve told me I could play the organ to hear the Waldhorn for the first time.  It is a rich, sonorous, slightly melancholy reed sound and complements the other pipes beautifully.

The Waldhorn in the Swell

The Waldhorn in the Swell

Swell pipework

Swell pipework

Waldhorn pipes at the back of the Swell under the top note chest

Waldhorn pipes at the back of the Swell under the top note chest

Swell pipes

Swell pipes

Waldhorn pipes at the back of the Swell box

Waldhorn pipes at the back of the Swell box

Swell pipes

Swell pipes

In the north chamber I could see the Great Trumpet at the back of the Great soundboard, just in front of the Choir organ.

Great Pipes

Great Pipes

Great Pipes

Great Pipes

Mounted in front of the wall behind the Choir box is the Pedal Violone and Viol pipes (16ft, 8ft and 4ft ranks).  The top 12 notes had been prepared for so it is good that the set is now complete.

The completed Viol pipes (8ft and 4ft) now including the previously missing 12 4ft pipes

The completed Viol pipes (8ft and 4ft) now including the previously missing 12 4ft pipes

The 16ft Violone pipes

The 16ft Violone pipes

I was able to see into the Choir box:

The Choir pipes in their box, the Corno-di-Bassetto (an original Willis I rank) can be seen at the front

The Choir pipes in their box, the Corno-di-Bassetto (an original Willis I rank) can be seen at the front

The Choir pipes in their box

The Choir pipes in their box

The Tierce, Nazard and Piccolo pipes in the choir with the top note chest mounted on the wall of the Choir box

The Tierce, Nazard and Piccolo pipes in the choir with the top note chest mounted on the wall of the Choir box

Tierce, Nazard and Piccolo pipes in the Choir

Tierce, Nazard and Piccolo pipes in the Choir

After all the work of fundraising for restoration since 2006, it is lovely to have the organ complete at last and wonderful to have it playing again in time for all the Christmas services.  The organ is being played regularly and will be tested out by several different organists in the next 4 months who will pick up and feedback any issues they encounter.  The tuning is still settling in which is normal after the pipes have been handled.  The organ builders will return to make adjustments and tune the organ again in the spring just before Easter.  We have plans to celebrate the Heritage Lottery supported restoration with concerts and recitals and the Bishop will come to bless the organ, see the What's on page for details of all these exciting events.

Words by Anna Page

Photos by Anna Page and Paul of FH Browne & Sons