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Walker 'Positif' Organs

Started by wjoefox, August 22, 2012, 04:31:30 PM

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I wonder what your thoughts are on Walker 'Positif' extension organs. Are they generally reliable and well-made, or are they to be avoided?! Do they have any common faults which are checking before buying?

Many thanks.


Good question.

Make sure that the pedal notes release promptly and cleanly. Also check that the manual registers sound 'naturally' i.e. no gulping. 'Gulping' on release is a common problem with organs using unit chests.




the couple that I've played have been pretty reasonable for what they are.  I don't think the voicing is quite as well executed as on the small Compton extension jobs that I've come across - but I've not tried a miniatura.

I would have one if someone gave me it (or if I could afford it!).

One thing to watch is that on some versions there's a stop crescendo pedal, which is to the left of the swell pedal- if that's left just off the backstop the stop tabs won't function and you'll only get the 8ft flute!  That one caused me a few moments head scratching when I had to play one for a service in a local church a few years back.

Obviously, you have the limitations of a small extension organ - and everything is in one swell box, but that aside, if it does what you want, then go for it.

Every Blessing


Barrie Davis


Ive played a few as well, basically they do the job, but as Tony says beware of the Crescendo pedal. I found the reed rank on the larger of the series a bit too overpowering but I am sure this could be regulated down a little, the repeating mixture tires the ear very quickly.
I do like the Walker stopkeys and find them so easy to use and preferable to the stopkeys used by Compton.

Best wsihes


David Drinkell

They're well-built - up to Walkers' high standard.  I think there may have been a bit of cross-fertilisation with Comptons' when they were introduced.  Walkers' had money but less jobs, Comptons' had the orders but no money, so Walkers'  managed to benefit from the extension organ boom without sullying their name with cinema organs!  I'm inclined to think that Comptons are rather more flexible, but the Walker jobs are certainly excellent examples of their breed.


This may be veering slightly away from the original question, but I wonder if David, (or anyone else), knows anymore about the Walker/Compton connection?

I've heard it said before that Compton more or less kept Walker alive and kicking by whatever means, and there was mention of sub-contract work at a time when church organ-building was in the doldrums. The boom years for the theatre organ were, of course, between 1924 or so and 1945; only a twenty year period, but a big enough market to keep Compton, Wurlitzer, H,N &B (Christie) very busy indeed. Presumably, the Compton works at Acton would not suddenly burst on the scene as a fully fledged manufacturing plant, and the build up must have been relatively gradual, even allowing for the financial backing of a wealthy individual. Compton's first premises in London were the former August Gern works of course; Acton coming later.

I haven't surveyed the output of any of the firms involved in the building of cinema organs/extension organs, but I would assume that these instruments reached a peak between 1930 and 1939 (the start of WWII) and then revived again, (purely as church organs) between 1945 and perhaps 1955 or so; 1954 being the counter-reaction year with the building of the Festival Hall instrument, which of course, caused a saesmic shift in organ-building and tonal-design.

It's interesting how two adjacent counties should contain good examples from the end of one era to the start of the next: the Walker organ at Buckfast (Devon) and the Compton organ at Downside (Somerset).





I agree with Barry about the style & convenience of Walker stop keys - but I do like the 2nd touch cancel that Compton used - very convenient.

I think that Walker, being a decade or so later than Compton in this market, used voicing somewhat influenced by the organ reform movement (maybe slightly) - and I'm not sure it works quite as well for the extension work - but that's a relatively minor issue compared to the bigger compromises in extension organs.  I'd happily find room for either make.

every Blessing