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.
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.
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.
In the north chamber I could see the Great Trumpet at the back of the Great soundboard, just in front of the Choir organ.
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.
I was able to see into the Choir box:
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