Menu:

Refurbising the pipe organ

The Cardiff Masonic Hall had been purchased from the Methodist Church some years before and in 1906 it was decided to build an organ. In those times there were several organ builders in the West of England and Griffen and Stroud had an excellent reputation and had been commissioned to build a large organ for the Tabernacle Church in the Hayes Cardiff.

In 1906 the organ was built by Griffen and Stroud and first played on 14th March 1907 at a meeting of the Past Masters of various Lodges of South Wales Eastern Division; on that evening they resolved that Hendre Lodge should be formed. So we know its pedigree was excellent having been designed, built and commissioned by one of the largest firms in Bath. In 1948 it was completely restored & overhauled by Geo Osmond & Co Ltd. of Taunton which was the business that succeeded Griffen and Stroud.

 

Why not digital?

What really is the difference? Let's face it, high quality modern digital organ sounds are indistinguishable from the pipes from which they were sampled. (Mark Masons' Hall in London is a good example of this).

It is wind that breathes life into the pipes of an organ and, for those connected with this most magnificent of instruments, it is not too fanciful to say that the pipe organ, breathing the living force of air, has a soul.  Just listen to the still small voice of the quietest and most delicate stops; feel the vibration through your feet as the organ proclaims the arrival of the presiding officer; experience the vitality as the air is stirred by the breath of the pipes.

Pipes have a 'mouth' and the organ builder 'voices' each one to make they 'speak' when the air blows through them.  If the chorus of Welshmen singing is an expression of their soul within, then surely the same can be said about the pipe organ.

What wears out?

Internal pipework

All pipe organs wear out, bit by bit.   A large motor builds air pressure which is contained in bellows and used when the organist plays a chord.  The sound of the music depends upon a complex system of pipework that leads to pipes that sound like flutes or trumpet. As each keyboard has 61 notes and we have a dozen different tonal colours, the air has to be directed to the right part at the right time by a series of wind trunks, which lead to several hundred smaller pipes feeding reach note.

As the whole system is pneumatic, the biggest challenge is to stop the air from leaking (and in Cardiff you may have heard the hissing of escaping air when there should have been silence).  A thousand or more small pneumatic valves act as switches and as they are made of suede leather, inevitably they wear out and associated rubber pipeing perishes.

The faulty parts are usually in the most awkward place and the only solution is to dismantle most of the components and have a good look inside once in a century.

For several years some important parts have been faulty.  For the technically minded the open diapason on the great organ, the euphonium on the swell organ and the enclosure of the great have all been out of action.  Repairing these alone will make a noticable difference but we will also hear much more of the delicate sounds when those sections are cleaned during the refurbishments programme.

We have instructed the famous organ builders Henry Willis who estimtate £30,000+ to do all that is necessary to fully restore and repair as well as adding the Willis Controllec System which amongst other functions provides the means for a full "Record & Playback" system. This will allow the organ to be used in the absence of a competent organist and may be controlled from a simple iPad, iPhone or other "smart" devices. As this is not a straightforward restoration to its original state, we do not qualify for a grant from Heritage Lottery.

 

 

Cardiff Masonic Hall Specification

Built by Griffen & Stroud, Bath 1906

Restored by Geo Osmond and Co, Taunton

Great

 

Open Diapason

Viol Di Gamba

Dulciana

Stopped Diapason

Geigen Principal

Wald Flute

Piccolo

Clarionet

 

Pedal Organ

 

Open Diapason

Bourdon

Leiblich Bourdon

Pedal Flute

 


8

8

8

8

4

4

2

8

 

 

 
16

16

16

8

 

Swell

 

Leiblich Bourdon

Euphonium

Salicional

Voix Celeste

Leiblich Gedackt

Harmonic Flute

Horn

Oboe

Vox Humana

Tremulant

 

Couplers

 

Super Octave Swell

Swell to Great

Super Octave Great

Swell to Pedal

Great to Pedal

 


16

8

8

8

8

4

8

8

8