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Messages - Mike Manners

Whenever a church is made redundant, I am uneasy. Whenever one hears about a CHURCH PLANT, one becomes anxious.

St Peters York Place Brighton East Sussex is one such church plant.

Charismatic evangelicals have little to no use of pipe organs, even when their church organ is a fine four-manual Henry Willis instrument, at St Peters York Place Brighton.

My fears that the Church Plant would neglect the instrument at York Place proved correct. The Willis is no more. It has been broken up.

The interior of this beautiful Regency-era neo-perpendicular gothic building has been transformed into a boutique pop music gig stage, where happy clappers meet to do their thing.


UPDATE to this post:

Contrary to my post above, it appears that Harrison Organs of Durham, have rescued this 1889 Willis instrument in its entirety, and is to be incorporated into a new 67-stop instrument Harrisons are building for the chapel of St John's College Cambridge University. The new organ is to replace the current Mander organ.

This is a happy outcome for a lovely Willis instrument that I loved to play each week in the 1960s.

Further information may be seen at Harrison's here:

Quote from: David Pinnegar on September 04, 2011, 02:01:56 PM

I was fortunate enough to be able to be at the anniversary concert at St Maximin celebrating 50 years since Michel Chapuis first played there, 50 years of Pierre Bardon's holding of the post of Organist Titulaire and some 25 years since the instrument was restored.

The concert was a triumph including Mendelssohn's 3rd Sonata as you've never heard it before:
some brilliantly orchestral Mozart, Handel's Fireworks Music and culminating in variations on Bonne Anniversaire:

Best wishes

David P

Hello David,

Still with Mendelssohn, I wonder if you have seen/heard the video + audio recording made by Daniel Roth with his two assistants registering the the perormance, from the console of Saint-Sulpice.

The assistant nearest the camera is Roth's son. I sensed a real warmth between Daniel Roth and these two assisting.

The performance is an arrangement of Prelude and Fugue in E minor for piano, Mendelssohn, transcribed to organ by Nichlas Kynaston.

Daniel Roth really lets the C-C have its head and the Fugue in particular showing off the exiciting transition up to the Tutti, and the wonderfully filthy and obscene Pedal Bombardes. A powerful sound in anyones book and the perfect Cavaille-Coll in mine.

This, to my ears, is a very wonderful sound, and enough to blow your roof in !! especially if you listen on high definition headphones.

I have a strong bias to the instruments of Henry Willis 1st to Henry Willis 3rd - especailly the big job in St Paul's Cathedral London, before Mander.

But the Saint-Sulpice organ is now testing that loyalty. Willis 1 of course, was no stranger to that french upstart, Cavaille-Coll :)

Quote from: dragonser on October 10, 2016, 08:46:47 PM
well I may be wrong, but one problem of trying to emulate the Leslie Cabinet is that the sound is bounced off the room surfaces outside the cabinet...   so to emulate it properly I think you would need more than two speakers.
I think that some of the Hammond Organ clones can get quite close to the sound, and can be useful if you don't want, or are not able to move a full size Hammond about.
regards Peter B

I don't believe you are wrong, the room and cabinet work together.

The various reviews in the music technology press however, praising this or that organ+leslie plugin have left me shouting "No, this doesn't get it done!"

Famously, the Native Instruments B4 and B4 v2. The leslie was appalling. I had a suspicion that they modelled a transistor leslie built for the stage. The rotors went in similar direction too, not contrary motion. The internal cabinet surface of those (712, 815) was ragged, breaking up what sonority there was.

It is not only the amplifier plus tremolo that makes up the sound, it is first, about how that sound is thrown around inside the wooden cabinet of the original 145, 147, 122  cabinets, and the wonderful sonority produced therein.

Then as each component rotates, that sound develops further with a 3d Doppler Shift. The transition from slow to fast speeds and back is very complex with the room taking part in the party. It is the room AND the cabinet and the room.

I have watched studio engineers taking the backs off speakers (top and bottom) and close-miking just the back. Others have miked the open back, and front.
Close miking in the studio is usually an attempt to reduce spill from other instruments. It might also be in ignorance of the psychoacoustic phenomena at work.

BBC engineers got it right in my opinion, but recording Hammond and rotary speakers will always be a compromise.

Given the best dream environment of small live room, I would set-up four close microphones for top and bottom avoiding turbulence. Then mirror that for the room itself. Each microphone will have its own channel on the mixing console, and fed to a 24 track tape machine, and then back into digital audio workstation for all those channels mixed for the best combination. Dream on Hey Ho :)

I have inadvertently steered this thread off-topic ! My apologies to the original poster, 'nathansonic'.
Quote from: JBR on September 13, 2016, 10:15:54 PM
I'm afraid I have no idea, but does an electronic Hammond sound the same as an old tone-wheel Hammond?

The problem with modelling Hammond organs in software isn't necessarily the problem. Modelling their leslie speakers is. In a word Psychoacoustics !

There have been several brave attempts at modelling leslie cabinets in VST plugin-format from commercial developers, but, in my opinion, fall short. Those getting closest still aren't close enough to the Leslie 122 that they attempt to emulate.

Perhaps a developer on the Hauptwerk platform might produce a good Hammond tonewheel sample library, but Leslie speakers cannot be sampled; Psychoacoustics !
If I am not too late!

The RT3 is the so-called 'classical' version of the C3, B3, and A100.

The RT3 sounds exactly the same as the aforementioned alternatives except that the RT3 has extended bass registers (drawbars) and is equipped with an AGO 32 note pedalboard, unlike the 25 note examples above.

The Hammond (C3, B3, RT3 and A100) and Leslie speaker 145, 147, 122 and 122r combination are vital in the world of Rock, Country, and Pop.

As such, it is more likely to be of value to professional recording studios than as a home entertainment instrument.

Air Lyndhurst studios, Abbey Road studios, and other world-class complexes in UK, Europe, and USA. Smaller Studios will also source them if they can justify the cost.

In professional audio circles, I have seen those original Hammond Console models selling for high prices depending on condition. A restored C3 and Leslie 122 can sell for £8000 to £20000. Am unrestored but little-used RT3 and valve Leslie such as the 122, might not attract as much, perhaps £3000-£7000.

Knowing your target is the key. If you target home organists, you are likely not get its worth. Professionals working in Rock etc, know the  instruments worth :)
Apologies if I duplicate those suggested elsewhere.

Buckfast St Mary's Abbey Church

Its a shame, but as many here will already know, the large Walker-Downes instrument is no more.
I loved playing it, and it could sound very beautiful in the wonderful acoustic of the Abbey Church

The good news is that the current electronic is temporary, and two new substantial 4 manual and pedal pipe organs are on order from Italian firm Ruffatti.

This is a big scheme with big budget,  and consists of a large Quire Organ in cases behind the north and south Quire Stalls, and an enclosed division in the north triforia.

At the west end there will be a smaller instrument will be a big nod to Cavaillé-Coll with a Bombarde division - and with its own 4 manual console.
The Quire Organ is to have a mobile 4 manual console. I imagine that the mobile console will have simultaneous control of both instruments, at least in part.

And for anyone up to a challenge: city of Plymouth !

Plymouth Minster The Civic and Parish Church of St Andrew:

A large (did I say large?) R&D instrument from 1957.

Organ divided in North & South transepts in architectural cases:
Swell, Great, Pedal open flues, independent reeds in North Transept;
Choir, Solo and Pedal stopped flues in South Transepts. There is some borrowing and extension, giving a total of 77 registers.

A recently departed chum of mine was holidaying here with me and giving a recital on this and Exeter Cathedral, just two years before his sudden death.
Asked his opinion of the Plymouth job, he looked me in the eye and said with a grin "it can sound very nice".
"I enjoyed playing it" he added. Ever careful, ever the diplomatic.
Quote from: David Wyld on March 22, 2013, 03:34:05 PM
Here we go again!

This is ALL nonsense I'm afraid.  I get VERY angry when this sort of rubbish raises its head, regularly, on various lists - does no-one ever read ANYTHING written anywhere else??   I posted this on the Mander forum some time ago:


HW1 did leave things in a mess in 1901, but that didn't bankrupt either the firm or the family: The family did want to wind everything up and share out the 'dibs' but HW2 resolved to pay all his father's debts (when at that time they could actually have walked away from the situation) and in so doing he put both himself and the firm in a difficult position - which ultimately resulted in his failing health and mental breakdown. He died in 1927.

After Lewis got his own firm into financial difficulties (not for the first time) he was bailed out by John Courage, whom he knew through the Architect, Bentley and it was Courage who set up Lewis & Co. in 1901 - under the Co. Reg. No. 70718. Bentley designed and built the new Lewis factory premises at Ferndale Road in Brixton, again funded by Courage.

After the end of WW1 Lewis had lost the greater part of its Staff, John Courage had had enough of losing money via organbuilding ventures and Willis were looking for larger premises:  it was 'arranged' that the Partners in Henry Willis & Sons would purchase the shareholding in Lewis & Co. This had to be the case since at that time it was legally impossible for a Partnership - i.e. a non-limited Company - to take over a Limited Company. The sale of the shares was assisted by Courage himself who took a debenture over the Company with its new "Willis" Directors, loaning the money of the purchase of the shares by the Willis partners.  Due to the legal requirements, on the purchase of the Lewis shares, in 1919, the Company was then renamed Henry Willis & Sons and Lewis & Company Limited.

Of course the same thing had occurred in 1915 between Hill & Son & Norman & Beard Ltd..

John Courage remained on the Board of the Company for several years (his name/signature appears regularly in the Directors meetings book) and in 1926, or thenabouts, the Lewis part of the name was dropped - presumably there was a seven-year rule to be passed before the new 'owners' could revert to their own name.

I was appointed as Managing Director in October 1997 and arranged the purchase of the entire shareholding from the remaining family share holders in November of that year and it was as a part of THAT process that I discovered that, even though it had all been repaid, the Courage Debenture still remained on the Companies House records and an application for its removal was submitted and accepted. We (Henry Willis & Sons Ltd.) are still the same Company, registered under the same, originally Lewis & Co., registration number, 70718.


So, can we have this right please - there has never been any Willis Bankruptcy and I would question entirely the assertion made that there are papers pasted in any soundboard saying anything of the sort.

By the way, these are not "recollections" of the history, they are the facts as documented in the firm's archives.  Your friends tip-off is nothing other than rumour and scandalization!

David Wyld

On a lighter note, in 1960 at Rotunda, I was an unreliable, very, very, young junior trainee, who preferred to play instruments rather than learn organ building and fix faults.

It was all very exciting for a young teen obsessed with pipe organs. Until that is, one day I was ordered to Mr Willis' office. I was told that organists were usually not welcome as employees. I was warned that Mr Colmer had complained.

I later discovered that there were at least two other players working for the firm: Michael Osborne (Epsom PC), Mathew Copley, and Bruce Buchannon.

Michael and Mathew were diligent in there work so Willis 111 and 1V were happy. Not so the aforementioned ill-disciplined youth, and Tommy Colmer refused to take me with him on jobs !  Oh the shame ....

But as time progressed I found myself being asked by the 'old man' to 'demo' instruments erected in the building room to church councils.

One such instrument was destined for Chesterfield PC. I think this organ was a Lewis, rebuilt, and given a new Willis 111 console which I loved. Wasn't there a fire at Chesterfield?

By then, I had been taken under the nurturing wing of Michael Osborne, and I begun to blossom a little.

Greetings Folks,

I suspect that most organists over 50 will remember an instrument which inspired earlier. Whether they were, with hindsight, ordinary or not, there can be no doubt that our earlier influences can be strong.

Three instruments I played regularly in my teens were two by Joseph Walker: Erith Kent, and Holy Trinity Church KIngsway Holborn London; and a 1889 Willis at St Peter York Street, Brighton East Sussex.

The Erith Walker is playable but needs conservation; and the Brighton York Street Willis is, in my view, under threat since the church was made redundant and taken over by an charismatic evangelical plant of Holy Trinity Church Brompton.

As for the Walker instrument at Kingsway (Holborn) London, was lost in a fire in 1960s and a replacement was provided for the west gallery. This was a neoclassical hotchpotch based round the pipework and case of the Green and Gray instrument previously in the Ballroom, Buck House and installed at Kingsway by Hill Norman Beard in 1969.
I enjoyed playing this in the very big acoustic of Holy Trinity. Alas the church was closed and demolished save for its west facade and the HNB instrument was sold to a school, and was subsequently sold to a church in Germany where it is still cherished.

Two other instruments I enjoyed were the Lewis at Saint Alban, Teddiington;, destroyed by Vandals, and the large Willis at Saint Jude Thornton Heath now somewhere in Japan, I gather.

Please share your special memories of those important organs in your life.