On 22nd November the restored and nearly complete Willis pipe organ was played for the first time for the 9:30 am service by John Neal.  It was wonderful hearing the organ enhancing worship again in a church service and to see the faces of the congregation as they sang, there were plenty of smiles.  I video recorded John playing the final hymn and shared it on Facebook later that day.

At the end of the service there was spontaneous applause from the congregation.  It was very appropriate that the first time the organ was used again for worship after restoration was on St Cecilia's Day - the patron saint of music.

I went up to speak to John as he was preparing to leave because he had to dash off to play for the 11:00 am mass at All Saints, Calverton, he was clearly very pleased to have the organ back in service again, though he didn't have the large round mirror back on the console for keeping an eye on what was going on below and nor were the Swell shutters operating yet.  Jacob came up to play the organ as he had been practicing Widor on his electronic organ the previous day back at home and was keen to try out the Willis, an instrument he has known all his life.  During the 16 months of restoration Jacob had kindly loaned his electronic organ to the church to accompany our worship and it had been removed from the church to accommodate the large MK Sinfonia orchestra concert the previous day.

To the delight of many people enjoying coffee and a chat below, Jacob played the Widor and a couple of other pieces as additional voluntaries.  I recorded him playing and shared the video on the Music for all Facebook group later that day*.

Listening to the organ when arriving for mass on St Cecilia's day

Listening to the organ when arriving for mass on St Cecilia's day

John playing the Willis for mass on St Cecilia's day

John playing the Willis for mass on St Cecilia's day

The new Great casework awaiting the front pipes

The new Great casework awaiting the front pipes

Jacob at the console

Jacob at the console

Jacob choosing stops

Jacob choosing stops

Jacob and Fiona at the Willis console

Jacob and Fiona at the Willis console

On Monday 23rd November the organ builders returned with 42 gold painted open diapason pipes.  When John went to take photos he found that they had already placed all the pipes in the Swell casework, with the Great casework pipes laid out on thick felt on the church floor below the gallery.  Tuning slides were fitted inside the pipes before they could be taken up to the gallery.

The pipes in the Swell casework are dummy pipes - they don't play so didn't need tuning slides.

Casework pipes (for the Great/Choir side) on the thick felt protecting them from scratches as the tuning slides are fitted.

Casework pipes (for the Great/Choir side) on the thick felt protecting them from scratches as the tuning slides are fitted.

Casework pipes (for the Great/Choir side) on the thick felt protecting them from scratches as the tuning slides are fitted.

Casework pipes (for the Great/Choir side) on the thick felt protecting them from scratches as the tuning slides are fitted.

New tuning slides and pipes

New tuning slides and pipes

New tuning slides in the backs of the open diapason pipes for the Great/Choir side of the casework.

New tuning slides in the backs of the open diapason pipes for the Great/Choir side of the casework.

Fitting a tuning slide to a casework pipe on the thick felt.

Fitting a tuning slide to a casework pipe on the thick felt.

Organ builders discussing the Casework pipes (for the Great/Choir side).

Organ builders discussing the Casework pipes (for the Great/Choir side).

The Swell side of the organ with pipes fitted in the casework

The Swell side of the organ with pipes fitted in the casework

The Swell side of the organ

The Swell side of the organ

Lifting a front pipe up to the gallery

Lifting a front pipe up to the gallery

Steve and Paul carefully put the top of the pipe into the casework

Steve and Paul carefully put the top of the pipe into the casework

Putting the first Great front pipe into its hole in the casework

Putting the first Great front pipe into its hole in the casework

New tuning slide in the back of a casework pipe (open diapason)

New tuning slide in the back of a casework pipe (open diapason)

The second open diapason pipe goes into the Great side of the casework

The second open diapason pipe goes into the Great side of the casework

Carefully positioning the front pipe to avoid scratching the new gold paint

Carefully positioning the front pipe to avoid scratching the new gold paint

Getting the top of the pipe between the wooden stay and the casework

Getting the top of the pipe between the wooden stay and the casework

On 28 November 2015 was the Christmas Fayre in the church.  The gallery was opened for people to use for watching the children's musical performances during the day, so Jeff and I took the opportunity of taking some photos of the completed Willis casework and front pipes, showing the organ resplendent in the gallery.

The Swell casework and pipes

The Swell casework and pipes

The Great casework and pipes

The Great casework and pipes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View of the Willis organ from the gallery during the Christmas Fayre (photo Jeff Wright)

View of the Willis organ from the gallery during the Christmas Fayre (photo Jeff Wright)

The Willis organ on 28 November 2015 (photo Jeff Wright)

The Willis organ on 28 November 2015 (photo Jeff Wright)

The organ was not quite complete.  The Waldhorn pipes still needed to arrive.

Words by Anna Page

Photos by John and Anna Page and Jeff Wright

* this link is only useful for people who use Facebook, and you may have to scroll down some way to find the post