Emmanuel Church, Wylde Green, Sutton Coldfield.

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West Organ



Apse Organ

Bourdon Pipes:
mitred to be completely invisible

Great pipework

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Some details

There were not very many all-new organs that shewed what Henry Willis III could do when he had a genuinely free hand in the matter, but in the case of The Seventh Church of Christ, Scientist in Wright’s Lane, Kensington, this was exactly what he was given - a totally free hand. With the inevitable losses through church redundancies and rebuilds many of HW III’s organs have been lost or at the least much altered and the Wright’s lane organ which is now the West Gallery Organ at Emmanuel Church, Wylde Green is, once again, one of the most significant surviving examples of his work.

A serious alteration of the instrument in the 1980s when the church was reduced in size (for the purposes of speculative development on a part of the site) had forced the reduction of the instrument by the removal of several ranks from the Choir division and the Open Metal from the Pedal. Thankfully, Henry Willis IV had originally retained these items, but subsequently, the Choir Viola and Cor Anglais had ill-advisedly been used to ‘fill gaps’ in the Choir Organ at the Alexandra Palace pending the time when funds might be available to restore or remake the original stops from there. These ranks were therefore regained from north London and restored to take their rightful places in the Choir Organ at Emmanuel.

From the start, the careful and genuine restoration of all of the original material has been paramount and therefore all of the chests and their Pitman actions have been retained and restored to their original condition (possibly flying in the face of the received-wisdom regarding Pitman) as have been the original Willis III cone-valve regulators; this required the careful study of the operation of these units and re-learning the technology involved. A word to the wise: they are not easy! The pipework has also been meticulously restored in our own metalshop and the voicing and regulation reset for the acoustical qualities of Emmanuel - a not unflattering acoustic, as opposed to the Cinema-like properties of its former home.

The Seventh Church revisions had also provided separate chambers for the Swell and the Choir divisions, under a canted roof, for which no expression boxes were required, therefore new expression boxes and shutter frames were designed and built in our Petersfield factory entirely from solid timber, being clad in over a mile of 5/8-inch T.G. & V. boarding.

This instrument is large and the gallery in which it stands is not, therefore a completely new building frame was designed and produced in-house and made entirely from Poplar with specially-made stainless steel retaining nuts for the coach bolts. The new case reflects both the period of the instrument and the architectural proportions of the excellent building by Bidlake and is made entirely of Oak with the exception (due only to limited funds) of the Crockets and pipe shades which are of fretted MDF, decorated with beaten metal leaf. The bold, central array of pipes is treated as it would have been in the 1930s, the mouths arranged in a ‘stern’ rising curve rather than in a ‘smiling’ arc. The shallow profile of the case front - which simply clothes the huge instrument behind - is relieved and articulated by two side wings (with their smaller, dummy pipes), deliberately reminiscent of the doors on an altar triptych.

At the same time an entirely new Apse Organ was also built. This had to be constructed so as to be entirely hidden behind the High Altar. The Apse Organ is played from the same mobile console as the West Organ with transfers and action cut-outs provided so that the two instruments are able to be played "in alternatim".

Specification of the West Organ

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Specification of the Apse Organ

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