A New Organ

 

An update by Director of Music Andrew Macmillan

Work has begun on the new organ at the workshop of William Drake Limited in Buckfastleigh, Devon.  It’s been fascinating seeing the extraordinary amount of craftsmanship and effort it takes to make the dream of a new organ for Chelsea Old Church come true.

The William Drake workshop near Buckfastleigh in Devon inhabits a converted chapel and adjoining schoolhouse.  The team at William Drake, led by Joost de Boer, has over seventy years of organ-building experience.  Each organ commissioned is carefully crafted in the bespoke tradition. 

There are three main parts to the organ:  the pipes, the action (the mechanism that operates the pipes) and the case.  The casework is almost finished; wooden pipes are being made, and the action is under construction in Devon, while the metal pipes are being handmade in West Yorkshire.  A space has been prepared in the William Drake workshop for all the separate components of our new organ to be assembled in the New Year. 

The organ will be brought to the point of completion before being disassembled for transport to Chelsea.  Once it has been re-erected on-site, the new organ will receive its tonal finishing. This painstaking process, known also as voicing, involves individually adjusting the sound of each one of the 2,168 pipes to ensure they speak well on their own and in combination with each other.

Joost de Boer has been building organs for over 25 years 

https://www.williamdrake.co.uk/2018/02/new-organ-for-chelsea-old-church-february-2018-update/

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Artists impression of the new organ


Music plays a central role in the life of the church, leading worship every Sunday and supporting the many baptisms, weddings and funerals that take place every year. 

The current organ is reaching the end of its working life.  Built as part of the post-war reconstruction, it used second-hand materials and now obsolete technology. The church was advised that a new organ represented a much better long term investment than renewing the current one.
 

After a formal tender process, supervised by consultant Dr William McVicker, the PCC has approved a proposal for a new organ.  The proposed organ will be built by William Drake, a British company based in Devon, whose recent work includes a new organ for the OBE chapel in St Paul's Cathedral and an organ for Westminster Abbey Song School.
 

The new organ for Chelsea Old Church will be
specifically designed to meet all the various demands made on it.  It will not only be fully up-to-date for the 21st century, but also built in a traditional style to last hundreds of years. 


The new case is based upon an organ by the famous builder Renatus Harris, believed to have been at Chelsea Old Church in the 1700s.

Please download the 'Sponsor a pipe form' here.

Building the organ down in Drake's workshop in Devon is on schedule:

The stopper handles for the wooden pipes are given a round dowel-end to eventually fit in a hole in the stopper in the top of the pipe.

Julia is cleaning up the machine-cut pipe mouth with a chisel

Marek is applying the leather strapping to the fold hinges