Henry Willis and Sons Ltd (1895, 1932, 2014)
All Saints has a fine Willis organ, refurbished by Henry Willis and Sons in 2014. The heart of the instrument is considered as a late example of a ‘Father’ Henry Willis, one of the best known Victorian organ builders.
The original organ was placed in the gallery above the Vestry, ordered on 12th September 1893 and installed by the end of the year, in time for the rededication of the first stage of the extended Victorian church we have today. Unfortunately, as has happened so many times, the organ was starved of funds and only 14 of the 32 planned stops were installed in 1893; a further 7 were installed over the next few years, but the planned organ was never completed.
With Sir Ninian Comper’s re-arrangement of the church which was started in 1932, and included building the elaborate gallery and organ case, Henry Willis and Sons rebuilt and re-arranged the organ to its current position. Unfortunately, again, the organ was starved of funds – the choir manual which was prepared for was only installed in 1957, some ranks of pipes were not completed until the 1980s, and others were never completed at all. There was even the bass octave of an Open Diapason 1 sitting in front of the swell box but not actually connected (or completed!).
In 1985, Percy Daniel overhauled the organ, installing the Great Mixture and finally connecting the 32’ Resultant Bass, but again the limited funds meant that the organ still wasn’t completed.
Between 2012 and 2014 Henry Willis and Sons removed the organ, thoroughly overhauled the instrument, and for the first time in nearly 120 years completed all of the ‘prepared for’ and incomplete ranks of pipes. As part of this work the console was made mobile and brought down to ground level, the great pipework was moved out of the case and placed behind the chair case where the console used to be, and the inside of the case was massively reorganised to improve the egress of sound and make maintenance much easier.
The refurbished organ was first played on Sunday 23rd February 2014. The mobile console now needs a 13 amp plug socket and communicates with the pipework via a single data cable; it has all of the mod-cons.
The organ is tuned to A=437Hz, as it was in 1985, which is slightly below standard pitch and means it can’t be used with the piano (which is tuned to A=440Hz).
We plan to install a new solo trumpet to the organ in the near future – which given the fine refurbishment done by Willis in 2014 the organ is now crying out for!