Our Father Willis organ

The Organ in the north chancel of St Andrew’s Church, was originally built with a fully mechanical action, and was installed by Henry Willis and Sons in 1882. Three years later, in 1885, the Swell Oboe (8ft) and Great Clarion (4ft) were added. The instrument is considered to be one of the best examples of ‘Father’ Willis’s work in Essex.

After World War II, in 1919, Henry Willis and Sons cleaned, repaired and enlarged the organ, adding a 16ft Quintaton on a separate chest on the Swell, a new bottom octave to the Choir Clarinet, a Pedal Bass Flute, and an Open Diapason No.2 on the Great. A Sw/Ch coupler was also added and at the same time the Pedal action was converted from ‘tracker’ to ‘pneumatic’.

The organ remained very much in the same state until 1981, when a local organ builder (Peter Wood) who had been maintaining the organ, Dismantled, cleaned, and re-furbished the instrument.

The 16ft Quintaton from the Swell, and the Harmonic Flute from the Choir were removed at the same time. The Treble pipes from the Quintaton were used to create a Stopped Flute for the Choir and the former Great Dulciana was modified to provide the 2ft Principal which is on the Choir today.

In 2002, The Village Workshop, Thaxted, was appointed to clean and refurbish the instrument, replacing the original electric blower installed in 1929, and adding a Pedal Trombone 16ft, III rank Mixture (17.19.22) on the Great, and a 2ft Fifteenth on the Swell. The Great 8ft Open Diapason No.2 had to be removed to accommodate the additions, and these pipes are now stored behind the organ.

This article is continued in a PDF file 'Organ History'.


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