Pipe Organs of Durham and the North East
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Holy Trinity, Woodland Road, Darlington
Lawrence Elvin [author of "the Harrison Story"]
playing Holy Trinity organ.
As built by T.H.Harrison of Rochdale in 1868, the organ comprised 3 manuals and pedal: mechanical action to keys, stops and couplers; compass 56/29; with 30 speaking stops as follows [as given by Lawrence Elvin in “The Harrison Story” [1st edition: 1973]. p.38]:
Great Swell Choir Pedal Double Diapason 16 Bourdon 16 Clarabella 8 Open Diapason 16 Open Diapason 8 Horn Diapason 8 Stopped Diapason 8 Bourdon 16 [Bell] Gamba 8 Lieblich Gedact 8 Echo Salicional 8 Principal 8 Lieblich Gedact 8 Principal 4 Vox Celestial 8 Flute 8 Principal 4 Stopped Flute 4 Harmonic Flute 4 . Rohr Flute 4 Piccolo 2 Harmonic Piccolo 2 Couplers Fifteenth 2 Mixture III Cremona 8 Great to Pedals Sesquialtera III Hautboy 8 . Swell to Pedals Trumpet 8 Cornopean 8 . Choir to Pedals . Clarion 4 . Swell to Great . Tremulant . Swell to Great SO . . . Choir to Swell [sic!] . . . Choir to Great
“The organ has three pressures of air, and is fitted with the patent pneumatic lever. There are seven compound pneumatic coupling pistons (an invention by the builder) which are of invaluable assistance to the player, enabling him to use the whole of the coupling stops without removing his fingers from he keys. He can also play the Swell uncoupled from the Great manual, by the use of one piston connected with the pneumatic lever.”
The Darlington & Stockton Times for 16th May 1868, gave a glowing account of the new organ:
“The organ of Holy Trinity Church now being complete, a service of song was held in celebration of the event on Thursday evening, and was attended by a large congregation. Mr.Hoggett presided at the new instrument, and succeeded admirably in eliciting and displaying its great power and numerous beauties. In a ‘grand flute concerto’ and an extempore voluntary, showing the various solo stops, the exquisite delicacy of tone and the delicious effect of the subdued expression were really delightful; whilst Mozart’s Gloria was excellently qualified to bring out to advantage the immense volume of sound which lies within the capacity of the noble instrument…” [see Note 1]
This organ was one of several sizeable instruments built by the Rochdale business for churches in the then Durham diocese, including Whitley [Bay], St.James Morpeth, and Chester le Street Parish Church, seemingly influenced by “tractarian” trends in general and the Rev.J.B.Dykes in particular. The prospects of more work “in the North” and Dykes’s encouragement are said to have brought Thomas Harrison to found the firm of Harrison & Harrison in Durham when the Rochdale business folded in 1872.
The Holy Trinity organ is well made, if somewhat confined in its chamber - the Choir division behind the Swell box at the back of the chamber in particular is buried away. It has some lovely tonalities, and “sings” in an unforced way typical of many a Harrison organ up to about 1900 – Harrison was proud to say he’d trained with and learnt about voicing with Father Willis. The Holy Trinity instrument incorporated new pneumatic technologies that do not seem to have worked very well, however. Harrison had to undertake an “overhaul of all mechanisms” [£45], and the appearance of the case was enhanced [£15] in summer 1874. Harrison claimed it was his “pet” organ and would give it personal attention. However, a legal dispute ensued with the Vicar, Rev. A. H. Hughes, about whether the pneumatic pistons were intended to be kept and made to work properly; the Vicar maintained he’d wanted them removed and refused to pay. Butterworth was in charge on site, but there was trouble with some men, whom Harrison had to “summon …for neglect of work”, and which delayed completion..
The organ was to some degree “modernised” and added to in 1901 and 1909 by Nicholson & Lord of Walsall. The two Choir Strings were transferred to the Swell, an Open and Dulciana provided in their place on the Choir, and a Resultant 32ft and Trombone (which only works via on/off pistons) added on the Pedal. The refitted console, balanced swell and R&C pedalboard (but original compass) appear to date from this time. H.E.Prested of Durham undertook releathering and refurbishment work in 1972.
Today, the organ retains much of its integrity as an early Harrison instrument, and I believe still gives a good account of itself, if increasingly in need of thorough-going restoration.
1. The Holy Trinity organist James Hoggett, was the son of George Hoggett, a music dealer and small-time organ-builder of Northumberland Place, Darlington. James described himself as a Professor of Music and music seller, of Northgate, Darlington. Another son, Christopher established a “music warehouse” in West Hartlepool and acted as an agent for Harrison in that area, and his son George [jnr] was running another music warehouse in [Old] Hartlepool in 1873.
2. A detailed article about Thomas Harrison at this period, by David Watt and Richard Hird, with much new information sourced from surviving records, is to be published in the forthcoming 2005 Journal of the British Institute of Organ Studies [JBIOS 29]
Console as left by Nicholson & Lord Harrison composition pedals and Tremulant hitchdown
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