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Pipe Organ

Background to the Current Organ

The original two-manual organ was built in 1866 by Wadsworth, and rebuilt in 1897 by Alexander Young. It was rebuilt again in 1961 by Smethurst. 

In 1985 the organ was inspected by Rushworth and Draper who had maintained the instrument for a significant number of years. They reported that basically the instrument is of sound construction and apart from electrical mechanisms may be expected to function well for many years to come. An estimate was submitted for replacing the electrical mechanism for £13000 plus VAT.  They were assured that when these repairs were completed the organ will remain reliable and not need any further major works until 25 years. They were true to their word.

Here is the organ specification from 1979.

Pipe Organ

Philip Underwood (organist and choirmaster at the time sitting at the former organ console prior to renovation).

Pipe Organ

You can see the original organ to the left. Please NB the wooden pipes to the front.

The Organ Casing.

Carved by a master carpenter from Mobberley working for Browns and Son Builders of Wilmslow. Mr Brown commissioned the casing as a memorial to his wife. The carvings are in keeping with those behind the main altar depicting beehive, dog, lion and strawberry.

The spoons and scissors were to remember Mrs Brown sewing while she enjoyed a cup of tea. The workmens tools were the trade mark of the master craftsmen involved in the creation of this organ casing.

Proposed Organ Schemes 2012

David Wickens (organ consultant) reported in 1979 that the existing organ was built by Wadsworth in 1866. The previous organ, dating from 1833, found its way to Church Irlam through Wadsworth’s hands. Alex Young did some work on the organ pre 1883 and rebuilt it in 1897 to 3 manual and 24 speaking stops. The fine carved front (alas pipeless – the pipe spaces being taken up by wooden slats) dates from 1931 (see  organ casing section). More recently the instrument was inartistically rebuilt by Chas. Smethurst. It has no merit whatsoever and none of the pipework, except perhaps the spotted metal 12th and 15th ranks on the great, has any distinction. The electric action is poor. The organ is buried in a chamber on the north side of the church. David Wickens 16/3/79.
 
In 1982 a quote were obtained for rebuilding the organ.
Harrison and Harrison proposed a two manual organ to be constructed either in the West Tower (£74,612) or in the present position (£63,843). The PCC decided on repairs as mentioned above.
 
In 2012 the organ was on its last legs. Peter Johnson coordinated the proposed specifications and final quotations.
 
1. David Wells Scheme: two manual with a possibility of creating a third manual.
 
2. Andrew Sixsmith: two manual with the introduction of electronic sounds in a hybrid formation of pipe and speaker. Peter Johnson was not in favour of this.
 
3. York Pipe Organs Geoffrey Coffin: three manual instrument using some of the current pipework and introducing new builders’ stock pipework. This would provide St Bart’s with a very attractive and versatile instrument to service the church for many years.
 
No 3 was the chosen scheme.
 
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The former organ case with the new 2018 pipework is situ.

 

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The New Principal Pipe Organ from 2018.

Here is the new organ specification from 2018.

The organ underwent a comprehensive restoration in late 2017 after £250,000 was raised to save and restore the organ. It was upgraded to a 3-manual specification with 42 speaking stops.

‘We hope very much that the community of Wilmslow will make full use of this exciting venue which is there for the benefit of all in accordance with the intentions of its 15th century builders.’ (Philip Underwood).

 

Some images of the new pipe organ taken in 2021.
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Photos taken by Tim Harvey the current Director of Music within the parish.

The Opening Organ Recital Saturday 10th March 2018

The organ recital was given by Roger Fisher (former Organist and Master of the Choristers of Chester Cathedral).

Recital Programme:

Fantasie in E flat – Camille Saint-Saens.

Prelude – Hansel und Gretel – Englebert Humperdinck

Pastorale in F major – J.S. Bach

Woll O’ the Wisp – Gordon Balch Nevin

Sonata No 1 in D minor – Alexandre Guilmant.

Pipe Organ

Left to right: Peter Johnson, Robin Dixon, Roger Fisher, Geoffrey Coffin, Philip Underwood.