Pipe Organs of Durham and the North East
Back to list
Waddington Street URC, Durham
The organ was built by the local firm of Harrison & Harrison in 1895, the year of Thomas Harrison's retirement from the firm, established first in Rochdale, transferred and refinanced in Durham in 1872.
There are quite a few organs surviving in and around Durham from the Thomas Harrison period. Other authentic examples of the work and developing style of this time can be found at Sherburn (1874), St.Giles (1882), Hatfield College (1883 - since rebuilt), Claypath URC (1887), Stanley nr.Crook (1894) and Sherburn Hospital (1896).
The total cost of the organ for "The Presbyterian Church, Durham" was £184, in 1895. The original specification and quotation, marvellously written out by hand, is in the possession of the Church Secretary. Relatively few changes have been made to the organ since then, and it is regarded as a classic example of Harrison work from the end of the 19th century, before the firm became more widely known.
In 1941 an electric blower was introduced at a cost of £36. The original hand pump remains however, and still works, as is recalled being demonstrated some years ago when the electricity supply to all of Durham City was abruptly curtailed (by a pneumatic drill!) one Sunday morning.
In 1986 and 1988 some stop changes were carried out by the small local firm of H.E.Prested, but in discussion with the late Leslie Rowland, the former head voicer at H&H, and Church Secretary for many years. At this time, the pipework for two ranks was replaced - the 8' Salicional on the Swell being substituted by a 4' Gemshorn, and the 8' Dulciana on the Great was replaced by a 2' Fifteenth. This has a major effect in increasing the brightness of sound and effectiveness of the instrument in its tasks.
|Open Diapason||8'||Lieblich Gedacht||8'||Bourdon||16'|
|Hohlflote||8'||Viola||8'||Great to Pedal|
|Principal||4'||Gemshorn $||4'||Swell to Pedal|
|Fifteenth *||2'||* = originally Dulciana 8'|
|Swell to Great||$ = originally Salicional 8'|
|However, it was increasingly evident by the early 1990s that
condition of the organ in Waddington Street was deteriorating and
urgent attention. After some debate, Church Meeting agreed to setting
of a fund so that a thorough clean and general overhaul of the organ
be afforded - the first in its hundred year life! There was good
raising over £6,000 so that the work was undertaken by Brian
a local organ builder in August 1995, for the organ's centenary.
The whole instrument was stripped down, cleaned and repairs of worn parts carried out. These included the re-leathering of the bellows, re-felting under the keys, repair to the very loose pedal board, re-surfacing of the keys and correction of the rather alarming tilt of the organ (to the right as you looked at it) which had developed over the years because of floor subsidence .
|This is a delightful instrument, which benefits from an open position in the south-east corner of the church. It speaks clearly and directly into all corners of the worship space, and has a beautiful unforced, relaxed intonation. The Great Open Diapason possesses a singing character, far removed from the much heavier leathered diapasons at Nevilles Cross and St Margaret's. The Principal 4' is bright and well matched to the Diapason, forming lively ensemble - a delight to play, particularly with the shallow key depth. The modern Fifteenth (a change perhaps frowned on by the purists?) is bright but balanced, and there is no doubt as to its suitability in an organ like this. The two flutes are particularly nice, the warm, full tone of the Hohlflote offset by the clearer Lieblich Flute. It is a shame however that the Dulciana has been lost (despite the success of the Fifteenth) because a quiet accompanimental rank on the Great is missed - the Hohlflote is rather too big to comfortably support the Swell Oboe, and imagination is required to use the Lieblich an octave down.|
The Swell appears very quiet at the console, although listening further back in the church it becomes more forceful. Even with the provision of the Gemshorn, however, it remains a collection of atmospheric stops, definitely subservient to the Great. The Viola is broad toned, a Violin Diapason rather than a string. With use of the Swell box this rank is highly expressive, and it has a gentle but pervading tone of great quality. The Oboe.is a delightful solo rank (although the drawback of the Great for accompaniment must be remembered). Coupling the reed down adds colour but little weight to the Great chorus..The Pedal Bourdon adds firm weight without overpowering the smaller ensembles.
Back to list