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*.
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.
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 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