A few years ago I found a set of Rotundas, missing only the first three issues. They were all heavily annotated, but tucked inside two early issues were some sheets of manuscript. They were presumably written by a tuner who had worked for Willis and R&D and as the writer refers to the late Arthur Seare, post-date his death in 1970. Articles on the organs in question were in the journals. Perhaps the writer was happier at R&D than at Willis - another HW III that migrated to R&D quite early in its life was his "Model Organ" at St Thomas a Becket, Wandsworth.
I have wondered what to with them as they are potentially interesting anecdotes for a historian, so I've now transcribed and scanned them. The transcription comes first and the scans are at the end. I presume the "Loreto" is Loreto Convent Chapel (NPOR N04348) which looks similar to a HW III scheme. I've also included the annotation of a well-known photo in the Willis works in Ferndale Road. I wonder who W.J. was?
"Volume 2, Number 2, April 1928
Christ Hospital Hertford (Girls’ Bluecoat School)
1. Speech Hall: A very fine small 2 manual HW I C & O’d by Horace Norwood (?) and myself for R & Ds.
2. Chapel Organ a new 2 man HW III.
Nice organ tonally and pitman snbds but the single rise reservoirs with their horrible cone valve wind regulators always in trouble. W.J. never happy.
Both organs taken away from H.W’s and give into care of R & Ds. Chapel organ reservoirs re-fitted with orthodox R.Ps (roller pallet blind controls) wind regulators, all worked out perfect. W.J. very pleased after putting up with abuse and a lot of nonsense for years from H.Ws.
I met W.J. when he was an elderly man. He always recollected (?) he was let down by H.Ws and what great friends he found in the late Llew Simon and Phil White R&D who put all things right.
W.J. was never happy at Loreto College in spite of that great R.C. organist Guy Weitz pushing (?) the job.
I was sent to Loreto by G.B Cartwright to tune, a great list of complaints left for me and an interview with the Mother Superior. I told the Revd Lady I did not think we had given the final polish to job, reported this.
I was sent a Rocket over this! Really dropped in it after Guy Weitz’s visit. Guy Weitz had passed job but W.J. was not happy. What a position for a tuner to encounter who was not told who had been there.
This was the start of HW IV’s Baroque style voicing with “CHIP” (“Chiff”). The nuns and W.J. not accustomed to it in 1952, just asked for a normal tonal scheme.
F. Colmer was sent after me to smooth the Revd Lady and the Organist Sister. G.B.C. phoned me to say HW III would be exonerating me from all blame not knowing the state of things, I never did get this.
I think again, they called in others to correct organ as they wanted it some years later.
The late Arthur Seare C & O’d Comleys (?) organ at All Saints in the later 20s, they got on well, all perfect.
That P.C. you sent me of St Saviours St Albans was done about the same time.
All Saints Church, Penarth, S Wales
A Willis rebuild of the late 20s. HW III in Frank Geiger’s (?) time as S Wales tuner operating on an itinerary from Ferndale Rd Brixton.
Trouble here and no satisfactory treatment given.
Messrs C.H. Gill Cardiff Organ Works called in (to) give remedial treatment, had care for many years until John Compton completely rebuilt job in 1953 – 54. Organ now in R&D’s care. I think was an original Blackett and Howden rebuilt by HW III. Not a good organ in the start to work on.
Volume 2, Number 3, September 1928
Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford
Now in H N & B’s care.
H W III’s rebuild and tonal recast to suit the whims of Sir Hugh Allen and Dr Harris.
Swell Mixture HARMONIC CLAUSA 4 RKS
15 17 19 22. Composed entirely of Stopped Metal Pipes. A tuner’s nightmare.
The late F Colmer after making a tuning visit made his report to HWIII and asked about this monstrosity mixture and was told you are to take next time cuttings of cardboard cut at graduated width to slide into the mouths to blank off say 3 pipes of each note so one can hear for out of tune!
The practical side was never entered into.
It never was a success and the organ was put into the care of HN&B. They removed this stopped mixture and replaced it by 5 ranks of orthodox pattern so it could be tuned."
Volume 1, Number 4, April 1927
The photo opposite p.38, captioned “Willis Sliderless Chest, in course of construction” is annotated “Westminster Cathedral Great Reeds” and the staff pictured are identified as:
Background: left not annotated, right Mr Stanley Thacker
Foreground: left Mr Arthur (“Wiggy”) Hewitt, right Mr Alfred Marlow (foreman)
The photo also appears at the top of p.322 of Elvin’s “Pipes and Actions”.