The Collegiate Church of S. Peter in Ruthin, Denbighshire.

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View of the console
4 manuals, 32 stops

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Some details

A telephone conversation on the 20th of September 1998 between The Organist of St. Peter's and David Wyld, Managing Director of Henry Willis & Sons, began the long process of assessing the remains of the only known surviving 4-manual instrument built by the well-known Manchester firm of Ernest Wadsworth and Brother.

This instrument, originally built in 1898 for the Concert Hall of the old Royal Manchester College of Music to the design of Dr. James Kendrick Pyne, was sold in 1938 to a Church in Heaton Moor, Stockport where it was subsequently installed by the now-defunct Company of Jardine (not to be confused with the present Jardine firm who merely operate under the old name), having been substantially altered to fit the restricted space available. It must be said that the standard of work carried out at that time was less than might have been expected for such an instrument and this was only matched by the ineptitude of the removal of the organ from Heaton Moor to St. Peter's!

St. Peter's had engaged the services of Stephen Bicknell as Consultant and as designer for a new Case which would also be required for the new situation. The process to determine which Company would carry out the work was not without problems, which resulted in the Tendering process having to be repeated! In both cases, the Tendering process was won by Henry Willis & Sons Ltd..

Following the letting of the contract, the true horror of the situation became apparent and the programme of work was seriously revised: a great deal of the original instrument was completely beyond economic repair and it was proposed by HW&S that a completely new mechanical coupling action and key actions should be made. In addition, it was subsequently decided to replace all of the Reeds by new, with the exception of the Choir Cor Anglais and Orchestral Oboe.

The Solo soundboard had originally included space for a shutter frame to enclose a part of the Solo organ: as a part of the rehabilitation of this organ it was proposed to remodel the soundboard to make provision for a 16ft Reed. There were various proposals put forward as to the nature of the two main Solo reeds and HW&S proposed that 16ft & 8ft Bombarde-type Reeds would be most appropriate for the general French feeling of the overall specification.

The recent work by Henry Willis & Sons Ltd. to bring this instrument back to life, has been in the nature of a rescue rather than restoration and has been carried out on the tightest possible budget but with the greatest possible efforts being made to be sympathetic to the original material. No overt attempt has been made to drag what is essentially a rare survival, kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century, but many parts and pipes from the original instrument had been lost and it has not been possible to recover either the original layout or appearance of the organ in this new situation.

Following the completion of the installation of the instrument, the opening recital was performed by Monsieur Olivier Latry, Organist Titulaire de Notre Dame de Paris, whose praise of and enthusiasm for this instrument he has made well known. M. Latry subsequently invited David Wyld and Thomas Yeomans (HW&S's Voicer) to Paris to discuss the final regulation of the organ - we believe that the results are self-evident!

The Church is rightly proud of its acquisition and all visitors to see the instrument are warmly received by the Director of Music.

Specification of the organ

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Audio track of the organ:
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audio file   Heut' Triumphiert Gottes Sohn

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audio file