BuiltWithNOF
History-organ

The Organ, by Willis, has been rebuilt by Messrs Ingram of Hereford, and placed in the south-east corner of the church; It was originally designed by the Rev. J. Capel Hanbury, son of the Rector, and was one of Willis’ early efforts, before his large instrument in the exhibition of 1851 brought him into general notice.

Information has been obtained from Church Warden Accounts and various documents at the Hereford Record Offices:

14th August 1842:  A Mr Sayers was paid 19 shillings for removing the organ from the old church in 1841. Presumably to fit into new church - however workmen were dismantling the old church in November 1840. No direct evidence of when organ was built in the old church, only references in accounts e.g. 15 November 1840, 10 shillings and 6 pence for ‘blowing organ’.

1844:  Paid 6 shillings and 6 pence to T Jennings (Sexton) for ‘blowing the organ last year’. This organ was on a gallery at the West end of the church. However there is no direct evidence that this was the organ removed from the old church.

1888:  Subscriptions sought to raise 20 for repairs to the organ.

1896:  The firm of Ingram & Co(who later incorporated into the famous company of Henry Willis) repaired and improved the organ. The firm of Henry Willis later looked after the organ at various times up to the late 1970s from their organ works at Broomy Hill.

1903:  16th October - Hereford music shop of Heins & Co quoted for ‘cleaning and repairs to organ’; they recommended ‘cleaning and 2 new stops (oboe and clarinet) for 67 or ‘cleaning and revoicing present incomplete stops for 34.10s.00d

1910:  The organ was removed from the decaying gallery and installed in the South East corner of the church approximately where the present pipework is situated.

1934:  An electric blower was provided for the organ.

1949 - 1952:  The Worcester firm of Nicholsons quoted for a complete rebuild of the organ. (At the time the’...cost of a new organ will be “2,250.’ The console and the casework were brand new, leading people to assume that the contents were also new. This was not so. Historically we may possess an organ of some importance.

Nicholson’s estimate shows that apart from making a new detached console and a new oak case, they would use the existing electric blower, and revoice and use as much of the original pipework ( possibly half to two thirds of that presently in use) as possible, adding 5 new stops. It was noted, at the time, ‘..the wood stops (wooden pipes) possessed great charm’ and (...that the nails used were hand made and, therefore, the pipes must have come from an organ of great age.’ The completed organ was guaranteed for 25 years.

1978:  Organ dismantled and cleaned, with some repairs carried out, by Percy Daniel & Co Ltd., organ builders of Clevedon, Avon. At this time the console was turned 90 deg. to make visibility of the choir easier for the organist. cost: 1,690.

1994:  Organ inspected by Nicholson & Co., and found to be deteriorating far quicker than at any time in its history. Cause: modern gas heating discharging high volume of sulphurous gases and water vapour into poorly ventilated church. Cotton covered wiring becomes damp and shorts-out between adjacent cables. Metal pipes affected by sulphurous acid in air. Wooden pipes beginning to split. Copper contacts corroded beyond repair.Too great a temperature change between cold, winter days and Sundays when heating is turned full on.

2003:  Numerous discussions and meetings have taken place but no agreement to instigate major fund raising for retoration of organ. An organ ‘fund’ is in existence with an approximate 4,000 balance - however it is estimated that at least 50,000 is needed to attempt restoration. An organ replacement is possible ( at an approximte cost of 16,000 ) which would entail dismantling an organ at another church and re-erecting it in St Nicholas’.

Although no definite identification of the manufacturer and age of the original organ has been made, it is quite possible that parts of it could well be over 165 years old. Almost certainly the old church would have had no heating, the new church would have had typically slow-warming, barely adequate heating - all of which has helped to protect the organ in a relatively stable environment.

Now for the sake of our own creature comfort, we are rapidly destroying a heritage entrusted to our keeping. The old St Nicholas’ church was deemed to be beyond redemption after 600 - 700 years. Our present church is now only 160 years old. In that time congregations have dwindled and the church is not the centre of community life that it was; Costs have increased to such a level that just existing from year to year is a struggle for everyone, not just the church. The chances of the parishioners to restore the organ are slim indeed.

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