An overhaul is under way

Our organ has been showing its age for many years, and some parts of it are no longer usable. However impressive it might sometimes seem, you aren't hearing its full range of sounds, especially the quieter sounds it should be capable of.

A substantial amount of work was done in 1998 to modernise and upgrade the instrument, but that still left much of the mechanism more or less untouched since the organ was rebuilt in 1932. I should stress that we have had very good value from our organ over all these years, and that pipe organs are very well-designed and durable pieces of equipment!

For a long time now it has been unclear how we might ever make progress without a substantial sum of money becoming available, such that the organ could be professionally dismantled and fully refurbished. We are very fortunate, therefore, that two members of Trinity Church, Sutton – Nigel Laflin and Paul Waton – have offered their expertise and have embarked on a programme of work.

This is how they introduce themselves:

We are both members of the congregation at Trinity Church, Sutton and have been undertaking the tuning and maintenance of that organ for the last couple of years. Also in the last year we have brought the organ at St. Nicholas, Sutton ‘back to life’ after years of little use and no maintenance.

We have both been part of a team installing a Wurlitzer cinema organ into an arts centre in Limehouse, East London. Nigel spends a lot of time helping other professional organ builders repair and tune organs around the country. Paul has had less time to devote to other organ projects further afield, but is involved playing the organ for services locally.

In addition to their organ expertise, both have very real links with our church. Nigel is chair of Carshalton Camera Club, and Paul is a member of Carshalton Choral Society: both organisations meet on our premises, and of course the Choral Society give many of their concerts in our church and rely on our organ for accompaniment.

Because of the way this work is being planned and carried out, we can progress in small stages, limiting ourselves to what we can afford with our current organ fund.

So far, Nigel and Paul have fixed several individual notes on the Swell (one of the organ keyboards), and have completely refurbished one of the pedal wind chests (the 16' Bourdon). As a result, the Swell is now fully functional, and we have two 16' pedal stops in full working order.

Nigel and Paul have also rectified some of the air leaks. If you listened carefully, you would have noticed quite a hissing sound from the organ. This wasn't supposed to happen! – it should be completely silent. All the sounds you could hear were leaks where wooden trunking has split and suchlike. Already it is much quieter.

Michael Boxall

A version of this article appeared in the December 2018 issue of 'Here is the News'.

Re-leathered Swell pallet motors
Newly re-leathered Swell pallet motors

For more photos and further information about work that has been completed so far, please visit the Photo Gallery.

Page last updated: 21st August 2020 6:16 PM