Hastings Old Town Parish

One Modern Parish, Two Medieval Churches

The 1878 Father Willis Organ

B C Shepherd & Sons restored the organ in 2021. Here are their notes

The organ was built by “Father” Henry Willis in 1878. It is placed in a chancel chamber on the north side, and speaks through an unglazed window in the chancel, and through an arch into the north aisle. The sound gets into the church very well.

The action is tracker. Work was done on the organ by the Hastings organ builder S F Dalladay in 1915. The pedal action was converted to pneumatic, the Swell shutters which were originally horizontal were changed to be vertical and a balanced swell pedal was fitted. Shortly after this work Willis replaced the Great Twelfth with an Open Diapason No 2. This is a good stop, and is useful because the Open Diapason No 1 is large. The Great Trumpet was revoiced and renamed Tromba. A Swell Tremulant was added.

Some work was done on the organ in the 1950s, and in 1976 Hawkins of Walsall overhauled the action, and in 1986 they overhauled the pedal chests.

In 2021 work has been done on the organ by B C Shepherd & Sons. The manual keyboards were taken away and were fully overhauled, and the celluloid coverings were replaced with reclaimed ivory, which was refaced to look like new. The pedalboard was completely overhauled and remade, as it was very noisy. Three drawstop knobs were replaced where the originals were broken Many drawstop labels were reglued. The Great drawstop jamb was repaired where it was split. Work was done on the pedal coupler backfalls where some were broken. New leather buttons and cloths were fitted to the pedal coupler trackers, and new cloths were fitted to all of the stickers. The Swell pedal covering was replaced. A new Tremulant was made for the Swell, as the former one was in a bad state, the screws were seized up, and it could not be taken apart without breaking up. The organ has been cleaned. All pipes were removed and cleaned except for the largest Pedal Open pipes, which were cleaned in position. Some collapsed metal pipes were taken to be repaired at the pipemakers, and others were repaired on site. Many wooden pipes were repaired where the joints were split. The Swell passageboard was repaired. The Swell shutter action was modified to make it easier to remove shutters for tuning. It was very difficult to do this previously. The action and couplers were thoroughly adjusted. A lot of time was taken on faulty speech and regulation of the pipes , to restore the sound of the organ.

Unlike many later Father Willis organs all of the bass pipes are of heavy plain metal, rather than zinc. The only zinc pipes are the bottom 12 pipes of the Open Diapason No 2 by Willis from 1915.

Eric Shepherd

current specification

Great Organ

Lieblich Bourdon 
Open Diapason No 1 
Open Diapason No 2 
Claribel Flute 
Principal 
Fifteenth 
Mixture 17,19,22 
Tromba 

Choir Organ

Viola da Gamba 
Dulciana 
Claribel 
Harmonic Flute 
Corno di Bassetto 

Couplers

Swell to Great
Choir to Great
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal
Choir to Pedal

Tracker action to manuals Pneumatic action to pedals Mechanical stop action

Page blower Discus humidifier

 

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8
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4
2
3 Rks
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Swell Organ

Bourdon
Open Diapason
Lieblich Gedackt
Salicional
Vox Angelica T.C.
Principal
Flageolet
Cornopean
Hautboy
Tremulant

Pedal Organ

Open Diapason (wood)
Bourdon (wood)
Violoncello (metal) 

3 composition pedals to Swell 3 composition pedals to Great

Balanced Swell Pedal

Compass of Manuals CC to g 56 notes Compass of Pedals CCC to f 30 notes (Radiating & concave pedalboard)

Wind pressure 3.1/2″

Pitch: Medium 528 at C. It would have tuned to Old Philharmonic pitch 540 at C originally, but was altered many years ago.

 

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8
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