This is the introduction to Trevor Crowe’s final proposal, presented in September 2020.
The deteriorating condition of this organ has been under discussion for over twenty years, and various proposals for its rehabilitation have been considered, but none has been implemented to date.
The comprehensive report by Ian Bell (commissioned in 2010) provided a very clear picture of the organ’s historical background as well as its current condition. Whilst the pros and cons of various restoration strategies were discussed, his strong recommendation was that to avoid compromise an entirely new organ should be commissioned, at a cost approaching €500,000.
Now, some ten years later, it is clear that the economic fallout from Covid and Brexit will preclude an expenditure of such magnitude in the foreseeable future, and that a more modest approach, possibly on a phased basis, is the most realistic strategy in these changed circumstances.
Despite its poor current condition, it must be recognised that this organ’s main structural components, including most of its pipes, are robustly constructed from first class materials, and represent a considerable legacy from past generations. Organ pipes made of metal and of wood can last for centuries if correctly handled, and the same applies to the wooden framing and casework of the instrument. So, apart from purely economic considerations, there is a strong heritage argument for retention and restoration of this organ rather than its outright replacement.
In a phased restoration it is quite practical to deal with each manual division separately, both in terms of pipework and of mechanism, whilst of course it is necessary to devise the whole programme at the outset in such a way that repetition of work may be avoided and so that the ultimate result is neither more costly nor in any way inferior to that which could be expected if everything was done at once.
Whilst the manual divisions are not in an ideal state at the moment, it is beyond doubt that the first priority lies with the pedal division, which is effectively unplayable at present.