BIOS Sound Advice

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BIOS Sound Advice

    Peterborough DAC

    Pipe organs; care, replacement and disposal

    Guidance notes

    (incorporating parts of the British Institute of Organ Studies

    guidance note Sound Advice)

DAC policy

    The national - and diocesan - presumption is that each PCC will retain and maintain its pipe organ unless the instrument itself is of such poor quality that it is not worth continuing to care for it.

In cases where the organ needs to be replaced it is hoped that the PCC will “re-

    home” a redundant pipe organ from another church. If an appropriate instrument

    cannot be found the PCC may need to consider building a new organ or purchasing an electronic substitute.

    In some situations the PCC may wish to have an electronic keyboard and local musicians to support different styles of worship, in addition to the pipe organ. In such cases the pipe organ should continue to be maintained and used; proper care should be given to ensuring that electrical supplies/equipment for the music group meet safety standards and are authorised by faculty where necessary.

    Very rarely a PCC decides that it does not wish to retain the pipe organ but seeks to replace it with an electronic one. If this is the case the PCC must demonstrate that the future of the pipe organ has been carefully considered. Ideally it should be given to another church that is seeking a pipe organ. If the quality of the instrument means this is not feasible then the PCC must see if parts of it e.g. the pipework, can be re-used in another church. Only in exceptional circumstances can the whole organ be “scrapped”.

    The DAC seeks to advise parishes on the best way forward in any situation. Two organs advisors serve the Diocese, each having a wide experience of the organ stock in churches and, in many cases, knowledge of the history of each.

The benefits of maintaining the pipe organ

     A pipe organ is a valuable resource and such instruments have been used in ;

    Christian worship for more than a thousand years. The pipe organ is still unsurpassed as an instrument for leading congregational singing and accompanying church choirs. A pipe organ is both a musical instrument and a refined piece of machinery; often enclosed in a case that is itself an integral part of the building's furnishing.

    ; Well-made pipe organs will give excellent service for many years provided they are properly cared for. Instruments often function efficiently after a century or more, with only occasional cleaning and minor repairs.

    ; Many churches house organs that have already given years of reliable service. These should be carefully preserved, both for their own sake as part of our heritage, and also because they have many more decades of useful service ahead of them.

What is an historic organ?

    An historic organ is one that:

    ; is a good and intact example of its style or period; or

    ; incorporates material (e.g. pipework) from an earlier instrument of good quality; or ; retains an interesting or architecturally distinguished case.

What attention does a pipe organ need?

    ; Like any other piece of machinery a pipe organ requires maintenance from time to time. With a simple mechanical action organ this should involve no more than cleaning, regulation and small repairs. Less frequently (every seventy or eighty years) a more thorough overhaul is needed, when parts may have to be taken back to the organ builder's workshop for renovation.

    ; It is tempting to use these occasions as opportunities to make alterations to the organ. The temptation should be resisted. Like a piece of antique furniture, a pipe organ is easily spoiled by needless changes. Once its integrity is lost it can never be regained. Restoration, not alteration, is nearly always the right policy when dealing with a pipe organ that survives intact and is well made. In order to achieve this, The British Institute of Organ Studies offers the following general guidelines.

Things to do

    1. Seek independent advice, e.g. from your DAC, the Council for the Care of Churches [CCC] , or British Institute of Organ Studies (BIOS).

    2. Make sure you employ an organ builder with the necessary skills. There are good firms, both national and local, but (inevitably) there are also some unreliable ones. Seek more than one estimate, and make informal enquiries of others for whom your preferred builder has done similar work recently.

    3. See what you can find out about the history of your organ. Parish archives and the local history library may be able to help; also the British Organ Archive and the National Pipe Organ Register (contacts through BIOS at the address below). 4. Consider seeking a grant. The Joint Scheme administered on behalf of English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund is making available new resources for restoring historic church organs (for an information pack telephone 020-7973-3434). Other bodies also provide grants for applications that meet their criteria. BIOS does not make grants itself, but can advise on possible sources of funding, requirements and procedures [consult or send for the BIOS Grants leaflet].

Things not to do

    1. Make tonal alterations (except to restore original features), transpose pipework or alter mixture compositions.

    2. Replace non-standard pedal boards.

    3. Replace lever-type swell pedals with balanced swells.

    4. Introduce tuning slides, unless your organ builder and adviser agree that this is the only way to preserve the pipes.

    5. Paint interior wood surfaces, making it impossible to distinguish old materials from new.

    6. Introduce extra console accessories (e.g. thumb pistons); this usually involves costly alterations to the organ's internal mechanism, and compromises its integrity. 7. Fix unsightly switches, light fittings, clips or mirrors to the console woodwork.

     Peterborough DAC. The Diocesan Office, The Palace, Peterborough PE1 1YB

    01733 887007

    November 2006 2

    8. Replace ivory key coverings or stop faces unnecessarily; always reproduce original features, e.g. the style and colouring of lettering.

    9. Paint over original decoration on front pipes (e.g. Victorian stencilling); if it is getting shabby, explore the possibility of having it conserved professionally. 10.Use an unqualified organ builder.

Information that will be needed for a faculty application

    Any works to the organ, other than routine tuning, will require a faculty.

A. For refurbishment and/or maintenance works

    ; A copy of the organ builder’s condition report and specification for the proposed works. If the PCC has approached more than one organ builder for a report then the DAC and the organs advisor would like to see copies of all the

    reports/specifications so that the fullest possible picture of the PCC’s instrument can be considered.

    ; If the report offers options the PCC should make it clear which options it wishes to pursue.

    ; If any alterations are to be made to the case, location or appearance of the instrument, then design drawings and photographs should be provided, together with a plan of the church marked to show where the organ is (and it’s proposed

    new location, where relevant).

    ; Copies of any correspondence regarding grants or consultation with BIOS or the Council for the Care of Churches

B. For the installation of a new or “re-homed” instrument in addition to the

    existing organ

    ; A full specification of the new organ, plans of its location, photographs and design drawings.

    ; If it is an electrical instrument: details of all wiring, including the route, colour, fixing and quality of the cables to be used. Fixings should be into mortar and not into stonework and glue should not be used to attach cables to stonework. (It is usual for wiring to be coloured to match the surface to which it is attached, if this is not to be the case please explain the circumstances.)

    ; Illustrations (e.g. catalogue photographs) of any speakers to be installed together with details of size, colour and method of fixing.

    ; The electrical supply should be as close as possible to the equipment to avoid cables trailing from sockets.

    ; Electrical work should be undertaken by and NICEIC enrolled electrician or inspected and certificated by such a person on completion. The contractor will need to complete a DAC Declaration - copies available from the DAC Office. ; Photographs of the proposed location of new fittings. Ideally these should be marked to show the intended position.

    ; If it is possible for the new speakers to be held in place or for a piece of card or paper of the same size of the fitting to be temporarily placed in the location this gives the Committee and Chancellor a really good idea of what the visual impact of the proposals will be.

    Cont overleaf

     Peterborough DAC. The Diocesan Office, The Palace, Peterborough PE1 1YB

    01733 887007

    November 2006 3

C. For the installation of a new instrument and disposal of the existing

    ; All information as in B above

    ; A statement of significance giving a short history of the present organ and its current condition.

    ; A statement of need, explaining why the existing instrument is not adequate and needs to be replaced

    ; Full details of the re-homing of the present organ, or method of disposal. If the organ is to be rebuilt in another church a copy of the organ builder’s specification for rebuilding and a letter from the new PCC and DAC organs advisor from that Diocese should be provided.

Wider consultation

    ; If the church has received a grant from English Heritage in the past then the proposed works may need to be considered by English Heritage. In Northampton Rutland and parishes in Lincolnshire the DAC will do this automatically on behalf of the PCC. Parishes in Peterborough and the Soke will be advised if they need to contact their local EH Inspector.

    ; If the existing organ is of historic significance, or if the works proposed are major, the Council for the Care of Churches may need to be consulted.

    ; The DAC will advise the PCC about consultation with other bodies, depending upon the nature of the project.

Further help

    The British Institute of Organ Studies, c/o The Hon. Secretary, Lime Tree Cottage, 39 Church Street, Haslingfield, Cambridge CB3 7JE

    BIOS will be glad to offer further help or advice, perhaps concerning sources such as the British Organ Archive, which you can search online by place/address or organ-builder. You can also consult the National Pipe Organ Register [NPOR] to see if there is information on a particular instrument, or the interim Directory of organ-builders about the maker.

    BIOS also offers advice on grant-making trusts - an updated list is available on the website or from the Hon. Secretary

The Institute of British Organ Builders

    The IBO, 13 Ryefields, Thurston, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP31 3TD, 01359 233 433

    IBO is the Institute for professional craftsmen and companies (although there are other individuals and firms who are not part of the IBO who undertake works on church organs). The website offers a form of contract, a list of IBO Accredited organ builders, a tuner’s directory and sources of instruments for hire.

The Council for the Care of Churches

    The Conservation Officer, The CCC, Church House, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3NZ

    Telephone 0207 898 1885 or 1874

    Email or

     Peterborough DAC. The Diocesan Office, The Palace, Peterborough PE1 1YB

    01733 887007

    November 2006 4

    CCC has access to limited trust funds that can offer small grants towards the cost of conservators’ reports or actual works. It also has access to experienced advisors

    and provides a clear checklist of the information required in an organ builder’s report.

     Peterborough DAC. The Diocesan Office, The Palace, Peterborough PE1 1YB

    01733 887007

    November 2006 5

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