Circa 1915, Model V, Roll playing Organ.
restored by myself having acquired it as a collection of parts.
Three Fair Organs which I owned and rallied during the early 80s:
This was created by someone from pianola and reed organ parts and using
old church organ pipes. It played 88 note pianola rolls. As it only had
56 notes and other octaves were coupled up to cover the extra notes, I
called it 56 keyless. It required both vacuum and pressure blowers!
Soon I replaced that with a proper cardboard book playing instrument.
This was built by Andrew Whitehead from church organ pipes with a real
reciprocal bellows blower unit. It played standard 30 keyless book
music, but originally had no percussion. There was therefore two extra
notes made available to play tunes requiring a more chromatic scale,
but none was ever made for it. I added the proscenium and the
percussion instruments and decorated the front. Most of the artwork was
mine except for the picture which was painted by a canal barge artist.
This organ was passed on to another enthusiast for whom I continued to
tune it, but then it moved on again when I understand the pipework
was stripped out and replaced by new. I last saw it at Fairford many
years ago and have not seen it since.
My last organ was this 54 Keyless Dean organ called "The Major". It was
built for Mr Vipen of Lincolnshire from whom I purchased it in 1983. I
mounted it into the van and took it to rallies and town centre
collections. At steam rallies I collected money for the Cancer Research
Campaign. It had three registers, bourdon, violin and cello along
with a trombone register in the Bass. Unfortunately I had
to sell this eventually and it went North. I have not seen or heard of
Finally a picture of the late Norman Woodford who, along with the late
Peter Watts, was inspirational to me in my attempts to arrange and
punch the cardboard music books.
Daniel Of Clevedon Pipe Organ
Not strictly mechanical music yet, but my intention with this pipe
organ is to add Midi automatic playing from computer files. So far
partly erected but no pipes installed yet!
In October 2014 I went to view this organ and was a bit upset to see it
was not quite as shown on Ebay, dismantled but all nicely stacked on
pallets in a clean warehouse. The current owner bought it for the
wooden paneling and was re-selling it, but it was now piled into the
corner of a very dirty barn. This is believed to have formerly been
installed in an Army barracks chapel at Donnington.
As originally sold by the Army:
As he was threatening to break it up and sell the pipes for garden
ornaments I took great pity on it and made what I thought was an offer
unlikely to succeed but a bit more than he may have got for ornaments
and firewood. It was accepted and we filled a 7.5 tonne lorry over the
course of six hours. At my chapel in Wales we spent about 7 hours
unloading. It took many weeks of sorting it out trying to work out how
it was originally put together. As far as I can determine nothing was
actually missing apart from the screws and the wiring! There is no case
work as it was installed in an organ loft, built around a framework
based on the Swell box. The Great is mounted in front and this is all
fronted by a rank of golden pipes most of which are decorative, but
some speak as part of the Great. The Pedal section is stand alone up
against the right hand wall, and the wind reservoirs are fitted in what
little space is left. The blower box stands on the left side with the
electric relay action system. The whole thing occupies a width of about
There are 5 ranks in the Great and another 5 in the Swell, with 2 in
the Pedal section. There are nearly 800 pipes. The stops on the main
sections are on sliders operated by electromechanical solenoids. I dont
know if this confirms it was made from older chests that have been
adapted to electric working. But the pipes now have electric chest
magnets. The Compton console is purely electric being connected by
large multicore cables to the remote relays that operate the chest
magnets. David of Willis reckons it was working ok before it was
Some of the woodwork has "Catterick" marked on it so maybe it has moved
around in the Army more than once? Daniel of Clevedon presumably put it
together in its current form for Venning Barracks.
As I am doing the whole operation alone it takes a lot of time, also I
am not living near enough to where it is to put in anything other than
the odd few days here and there. My intention is to add Midi playing so
that I can play it from computer files. I also want to add some ranks
from another organ which I have rescued, in particular a rank of
trumpets. This is the Rushworth and Dreaper Ardeton organ from the
Ffestiniog Parish church of St Michael. I intend to keep the
electrically played Ardeton intact as it is but remotely play it from
the Daniel as a third rank! I also want to do some bizarre
additions. I have already acquired a 16 foot 24 note Diaphone,
toy shop chest and a glockenspiel. Maybe its because my experience is
with fairground organs, but I tend to talk of registers, and everything
Midi comes down to melody accompaniment and bass!
The organ is finally more or less assembled enough to play it from the
console and the attached Midi system. What comes out may or may not be
agreeable to the listener depending on how fussy you are! I have
assembled it "out of the box" (or off the pallets in fact) without a
great deal of fettling having yet been done. Apart from some pipes that
were badly damaged and had to be repaired before they would speak
again, I have not yet regulated or tuned a single pipe. A lot has yet
to be done, and so far no stops are connected, they are all on or as I
set them manually. Nearly 1000 electrical connections had to be made
between the cables from the console to the organ and the chests, and
another few hundred between the Midi unit and the console, via a
multiple relay unit intended to allow choice of which manual on which
the Midi equipment plays the accompaniment and melody.
I really started with no knowledge of how the organ went together or
what it should look like when asembled. So it has largely been a trial
run for re-assembly somewhere else in due course. I started by drawing
plans and trying to fit together parts knowing their dimensions. I was
not too far out in the end, but one mistake at the early stage means
the whole swell chest is too near the floor and caused some headaches
when some items need to be mounted in a pit in the floor to enable them
to fit the rest of the organ! The problems were exacerbated by the
floor being on a slope, as it is erected where the pews used to be in
an old chapel.
The whole process has taken about 18 months from starting to assemble
the first parts. Many hours were spent sorting out nearly 1000 pipes
all of which had been thrown into heaps with no attempt to keep the 11
or so different ranks apart. As a novice when dealing with mixtures
this became quite a headache, but it did all come together in the end.
At one point my chapel resembled an organ builders workshop with pipes
in piles everywhere as I sorted them out. No siginifcant pieces are
left over without explanation, although there were a few odd things
that took a while to fathom out, like odd off note chests and what
ranks they were connected to. Being an electrically operated action
some of the organisation of the organ depends on how itis wired, and no
wiring came with the organ! Fortunately the chests are operated on
slider stops which narrows it down considerably. Also all screws that
were removed to dismantle the organ seemed to have been lost, so I had
to source quite a lot of slotted head woodscrews which are no longer
I have also sourced a rank of 24 Diaphones to augment the bass, and a
glockenspiel, and the remains of a toy shop unit with drums etc, all of
which should make the organ more interesting.
There is a selection of tunes recorded in this MP3 file here.
And there is an interrim video about the recovery and rebuild at Daniel Organ Untuned
Currently I feel it sounds more like some kind of band organ than a
chuch organ! There is a tremulant but it is not in use, but some
passages have a distinct theatre organ sound, no dount due to the
dischorances from lack of tuning. A better recording will follow when
it is properly tuned, also I have a complete video record of the
rebuild to put here soon.
This is the Rushworth & Dreaper Ardeton organ just before rescue
from the redundant church at Ffestiniog, North Wales:
This is a single manual with 4 extended
ranks. This also has no case as such, but is built into the top of the
console. This makes it possible to move it around the church on wheels,
theoretically. But because of that everything is tightly packed into
the console and this makes it hard to get access for maintenance.
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