The Website of the Parish of
Saint Gregory the Great, Northampton

Sunday Mass Times:
Sunday 9.00 am (with children's liturgy and music group) Sunday 11.00 am (with choir and children's liturgy)
Priest-in-Charge: Fr Andrew Behrens (01604) 713015







Pipes or Chips

Organs at St Gregory’s


Alfred Davies was called in again. He had made a name for himself buying domestic organs from grand houses and re-homing them in churches. The Aolean Company had specialised in providing such instruments – for instance, the Barrett family had one in their home in Kingsthorpe (the building that later became the prep school for Notre Dame convent and then St David’s School). This is now in Christchurch on Wellingborough Road. However, it was more usual for Davies to store the components of the instruments he bought and then re-assemble them using parts from several different original instruments. Such was the case for the organ he installed at St Gregory’s, making use of the space provided by the architect for the purpose.


The organ has done well, but after 30 years, is needing attention. However, more seriously, it is not adequate for the current needs of the church, so that, even if all the repair work were to be done, we would still have an instrument which does not completely meet our needs.
The most obvious shortcoming is simply the volume of sound it can produce. It sometimes happens that the congregation can drown the organ! A further lack is in the tonal variety – there are only six sets of pipes, which is a severe limitation.
A variety of faults are developing with the present organ, such that parts of it are ceasing to work. The swell box action has been giving trouble over some years, and now part of the pedal section has failed.
Because the work of rebuilding is highly labour-intensive, the cost of the necessary repair would be considerable. It is therefore sensible to think of a replacement.

Pipes or Chips

One option would be to buy an electronic instrument. They have improved beyond all recognition in the past fifty years and the best are very good; but remain an imitation of the genuine pipe instrument. A quality pipe organ should last at least a generation before requiring major attention. On the other hand, electronic instruments are usually cheaper, but possibly would last less long.
Just as in the 1970s there were country house organs available, today there are many church organs looking for new homes. Many of them are of mediocre quality, and will end up on the scrap-heap. But amongst them are a small number of truly great instruments. Their greatness is not necessarily related to their size; rather to the quality of the manufacture and voicing of the pipes.
We are fortunate, thanks to Dr John Rowntree, the Diocesan Organ Advisor, to have found an genuinely great instrument which would cost no more to install than a really good electronic organ.

Pipes or Chips
The replacement
The Cost
The organ at Grazeley
Work in Progress
Penitential Soundboards
The bellows in bits
Pneumatic motors
Stripping the soundboards
Casework at St Gregory's
Richard in his workshop
Pouring glue
Great soundboard
Swell soundboard
Case re-polished
Swell box in workshop
Building frame in workshop
Clamp for Trompette
Preparing Clamp
Lifting up to gallery
Soundboards up in the air
Bourdon soundboard
Making platform
1st pipe in chamber
Organ bits in Church
Bob the Blower
Great soundboard in the air
Soundboards in place
Swell box being installed
Trompette Pipe
Fitting the console
Jamb - no Jerusalem
Getting the wind up
Neat wiring
Rack of Trompette
The pipes arrive
Console wired
The Wind in the Bellows
The first working rank
Swell box complete
Pipes in the Great Soundboard
Restoration of the Console
Two milestones
The Blessing
The Opening Recital
Neil Wright
Forthcoming recitals




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