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Messages - Contra_Gamba

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Organs on eBay or for urgent sale / Re: Is this the meltdown of the organ?
« on: September 03, 2015, 06:54:40 PM »
Take heart.  There were an awful lot of third rate instruments put into churches in the 19th and 20th centuries, we must not be sentimental about them.  The tragedy is that people get wedded to the load of old junk and then pay a willing organ builder to restore it and it's still tonally deficient!  The challenge is to find the first rate redundant organs worth keeping and put them where they will be used and valued even if means displacing a third rate instrument to make a new home for it.  The organ's reputation would be much higher, like in the Netherlands, if we had only quality instruments

I'm organist of the Ordinariate and Parish Church of the Most Precious Blood in London.  We rescued a redundant 2 manual Bishop & Son of 1881 and now use it as the Chancel Organ.  We also rescued the 3 manual Lewis & Co from St Mark's Battersea Rise and are currently fund raising to install this in the West Gallery and expect it to be at least partially working during 2017

Organs Preserved / Bishop for the Ordinariate
« on: October 15, 2013, 06:05:22 PM »
Having not been able to complete the purchase of the H&H from Ellenborough because the measurements given didn't include the pedals and so was too big I was a little downhearted.  However, I'm delighted to have secured the Bishop & Son instrument (opus 1273) built in 1881 from Chandos St Chapel in Hereford and you can see the deconstruction and reconstruction pictures at

The organ is in the Chancel position and we used it last Sunday for the first time to sing the Missa de Angelis antiphonally with the congregation & West end Organ (sadly an Electronic at present but we have the 3 manual Lewis from St Mark's Battersea in store awaiting money to rebuild it).

Returning pipe organs to Catholic Churches is my contribution to the mission of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham!


Chris Smith

Organs wanted / Re: Wanted: Hill Clarion 4'
« on: October 15, 2013, 05:55:27 PM »
I contacted Gary Owens of GO Organs Ltd and he has a Hill Clarion 4' in stock - he's away from his workshop and needs to double check if it is harmonic or not.  Try emailing him on


Chris Smith

Alas, the measurements for the depth did not include the pedal board so the Organ would not fit the available space hence the organ is still available on the IBO Redundant organ site.

It's me!  I hope it's as good as the pedigree and description suggests but at the price, I didn't think I could go far wrong.   It is to be re-housed and used as a Chancel Organ in the Church of the Most Precious Blood, London SE1.  Just got the headache of dismantling and moving it from the other end of the Country!

It's a clever little specification on paper (Lt Col Dixon's influence on display) but I've yet to hear it.  Sadly there is not an eponymous Contra Gamba 16 but a Contra Dulciana 16 on the Great - I'll just have to make do and maybe change my name on this bulletin board!  Hope to have it up and running in the Autumn.

(We've also got a rescued 3 man 1874/1912 Lewis awaiting the funds to build it in the West gallery - I mention it just in case someone has the odd £140k to spare!)


Chris Smith

Spec of the Harrison:
Pedal   Key action TP  Stop action TP  Compass-low C  Compass-high f1  Keys 30
               1   Sub Bass   16
Great   Key action Tr  Stop action Me  Compass-low C  Compass-high g3  Keys 56
               2   Contra Dulciana   16
               3   Open Diapason   8
               4   Claribel Flute   8
               5   Octave   4
               6   Super Octave   2
Swell   Key action Tr  Stop action Me  Compass-low C  Compass-high g3  Keys 56 Enclosed
               7   Gedeckt   8
               8   Viola   8
               9   Geigen Principal   4

Radiating & Concave pedalboard, balanced Swell 
Swell to Pedal
Swell to Great
Swell octave
Great to Pedal

Just for completeness, here is the eBay listing

Anyone ever seen or heard the following? Currently on eBay and rather over-extended one suspects.

Organs in danger / Re: St Stephen's Ambridge
« on: May 01, 2013, 12:39:34 PM »
I sense the need for a campaign here.  Firstly, the instrument must be given an Historic Organ Certificate.  Secondly, we need to ensure that the building is listed.  Thirdly we need to point out the financial realities - not least the depreciation of Electronic Organs.  Presented with all this information the DAC will, of course, grant the faculty and allow the pipe organ to be disposed of and an electronic will be installed.  Fiction will follow the real world pattern I fear and thus the arguments used in Ambridge will be used by real PCCs to justify replacing a perfectly good pipe organ with a synthesiser.

Meanwhile, the NPOR ought to have an entry for Ambridge... ;)

Organs in danger / Re: Church closing in kent
« on: April 18, 2013, 03:30:31 PM »
Just checked the NPOR which has been updated:

 2013 - Church Closed on 3rd March, 2013; Organ purchased for export to Malta;

Organs in danger / Re: Church closing in kent
« on: April 18, 2013, 03:10:13 PM »
Is it still looking for a home?  What's the timescale?

After a bit of searching around I'm pleased to find a Church, Keston, which has both bells and organ by TC Lewis (post 1900 so Lewis probably not involved, but it's near enough!)

House Organs / Re: NPOR
« on: December 10, 2012, 12:48:57 PM »
I submitted some information about the organ from St Mark's, Battersea Rise several months ago, the information was acknowledged but I was warned that the update might take 6 months.

Organs on eBay or for urgent sale / Re: Nigel Church Organ
« on: November 27, 2012, 04:15:36 PM »
I went to see and play this Organ at the weekend with a view to buying it as a "Chancel Organ".  Everyone was very friendly and helpful and the organ standing on its plinth looks very smart with clean lines, clearly a child of its time!  On the whole I liked it more to look at than to listen to.  It reminded me of an organ I used to practice on (unforgiving!), but it was on balance rather too chiffy for my needs and there were some other problems which, as always I was tempted to overlook, but which were useful to remember when I was watching the bidding on eBay and avoided me getting carried away:

Action very light and responsive but a little worn so some clattering - easily remedied when dismantled
Casework – veneer coming off in a couple of places
Swell box was only effective in the very first 1/4" of movement
Tuning of the mixture seemed to be affected by movement of the swell shutters - perhaps rotating the mouths would help
Some pipes looking a little battered by cone-tuning
Principal 4' is on display  which means that it is rather “in your face” when seated at the console, need to remember to push it in when closing the swell box.
Upper-work on the bright side, tiring at the console, not so bad at a distance
Pedal Bourdon too small scale and quiet, OK when a couple of stops drawn with the box shut but not really a match for manual stops.

The Dulciana 8' been revoiced by Peter Collins at some point quite effectively to give a true 8' foundation but the bottom 5 or 6 notes were derived from the Stopped Diapason.

The Organ cost £4,400 when new in 1975, it sold for £4,050 so it held its value well.  I wonder if the proposed digital replacement will do as well...

The good thing about this instrument was that it would take maybe 2 days to dismantle and 2 or 3 days to reassemble and it would, once tuned, just work.  I'm sure that whoever bought it will be very happy with it but they have to wait until March/April to get it. 

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