ORGAN RESTORATION APPEAL


About the Restoration Appeal

Over the past year it has become clear that our Church organ is in need of major repair and refurbishment if it is to survive as a viable instrument into the future.  Early this year the PCC thought it important to explore the possibility of installing a digital organ as a cheaper alternative. 

Having installed three trial organs a general consensus emerged that the particular acoustic of St. Giles is better suited to a real organ, than an electronic one with speakers.  

Therefore at a recent PCC meeting it was decided that we should commit ourselves to the refurbishment of our current organ.  Two quotations for this work have been obtained and it is clear that we are going to have to find in the region of £60,000 if this vital work is to be completed.  Many of us who love St. Giles will be pleased to see that this important part of our Church life and music is going to receive the care and attention that it needs, so I hope that we will all get together to support this appeal.   

How much do we need to Raise?

Thankfully £15,000 has already been put aside over the years for precisely this eventually, so our fund raising will begin from a good place.  I would like to think that we could raise at least £28,800 from within our community, which would leave us with a further £17,000 to find through grants and other means.  

How can I Help?

There are approximately 1152 pipes in our current organ and all of them will need attention.  We would like to offer you the chance of adopting a pipe or pipes for £25 per pipe.  If every pipe is adopted we will raise £28,800!  People are welcome to adopt as many pipes as they wish, or to share the adoption of a pipe with friends or to contribute to the cost of one.  Please remember that all contributions will be very welcome.  An out line of our organ will be drawn as the pipes are sponsored so we will fill in the space with the pipes, (which will be straw).  

In response to your donations, (if you are happy to be identified), you will be issued with a certificate saying ‘thank you’ for adopting pipe no 1, or 2, or whatever the number we are up to.   

* To facilitate this please place your donation in the donation box which will be on the porch table using the organ fund envelopes which will be in a pile next to it.

* Please remember you can gift aid your donation by completing the information on the front of the envelope

* Please send donations via post to the Parish Office, St. Giles Centre,  Church Road, Farnborough Kent BR6 7DB

* Please make cheques payable to St. Giles PCC and write "Organ Appeal" on the back

Please tell your neighbours and friends about this important appeal.    

Finally, I hope that we will all be able to pull together on this and thank you very much in advance for giving this the support and attention which it requires.  

Yours in Christ  

Matthew Hughes
 

The need for Restoration

So the decision has been made to stay with a pipe organ rather than change to a digital instrument. Here is a little about what this decision means to us all.

A pipe organ is usually the most valuable single item in replacement terms that a parish church possesses. To replace the St. Giles organ with a new one of similar size would probably cost well over £350K. We need to spend around £60K on work to keep the instrument in good condition and to make a few improvements to the sound it makes.



The most expensive element of an organ is the pipes themselves. Behind the couple of dozen pipes on the facade, the St. Giles organ has around another 1200 pipes hidden from view and these vary in length from 16ft to about ½” (organ pipes seem to be measured in feet throughout Europe!). Organ pipes can last for hundreds of years and many of those at St. Giles date back to the original organ installed in the second half of the 19th century. Every 30 years or so, the pipe work needs to be removed for cleaning, re-voicing and the odd repair. There is much woodwork in an organ; for example the soundboards on which the pipes stand. These are generally made from timber that has been well seasoned - in the St. Giles organ much of it would have been seasoned for 7 years - so again; with a few careful repairs it can last for hundreds of years.

At St. Giles with its detached organ console, the ‘action’ (or how the pipes speak when the organist hits a key) is a mixture of direct electric and electro-pneumatic systems, which involve the use of leather covered ‘motors’, many electro magnets, electro-mechanical switching systems and literally miles of wiring. All this kit eventually wears out, much of it is well over 50 years old and looks a bit like something out of a telephone exchange from the 1950s. A more up-to-date system needs to be installed. In addition to the above are sundry repairs and keyboard replacement to the console. There is then much painstaking time taken in dismantling, reassembling and ‘fine’ tuning and everything has to be handled with great care.

We have to raise a considerable amount of money for this project; the work is likely to take two or three months and will probably take up space in the gallery so timings are critical – having it going on during Christmas or Easter would be a bad idea! The sudden death of our existing organ builder, Martin Cross, makes things a bit difficult as it is important to select another organ builder who understands and is good at doing the kind of work that the instrument needs. Meanwhile, it seems that now the organ knows that it is to be kept it is behaving better than recently and one or two people have even commented that it sounds better too! Unfortunately, we know that if we leave things much longer this state of affairs will not continue.

Clive Brearly

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