from John Maidment
During the past year some significant goals have been achieved with the Hill & Son Grand Organ restoration project.
First, the two large pedal slider chests have been fully restored by Wakeley Pipe Organs Pty Ltd at its Lilydale, Victoria, factory. This work involved the fitting of solid timber bottom boards and face boards to the pallet boxes, new brass pulldown strips, releathering of pallets and conversion back to double operation. These chests have been since installed within the organ. All of the larger wooden pedal flue pipes, including the whole of the 32ft Double Open Diapason, have been placed on the chests.
Second, the two swell slider chests are being fully restored by Wakeley Pipe Organs Pty Ltd and are close to completion at the end of April 2008. The work has involved the fitting of solid timber bottom boards and face boards to the pallet boxes, new brass pulldown strips, releathering of pallets and conversion back to double operation, fitting of new marine ply tables in place of the severely damaged and unrestorable originals, fitting of marine ply sections to the bottom of all the upperboards and scoring of the new surfaces. All bleed holes and 1970 conveyance holes have been filled and new canvas fitted to the underside of the grid. Some new sliders in laminated sections of mahogany have been fitted where the originals were badly damaged. Many sliders have been retained.
Third, work on the two Great windchests has started, and the severely damaged original tables have been removed and the note channels cleaned.
The manual windchests are being restored through a very generous grant from The Ian Potter Foundation.
Fourth, the two windchests for the bottom octave of the Double Open Diapason 32ft, fitted with Hill’s distinctive rolling pallets, have been fully restored by George Stephens and placed in position.
Fifth, most of the key action components have been very successfully reconstructed by George Stephens and await assembly, once the manual slider chests are returned to the building and placed in position.
Sixth, all of the pipework has been fully sorted and carefully placed in pipe boxes. It is generally in excellent condition. A few ranks will require reconstruction particularly the Great Open Diapason II treble (discarded in 1970), the Great Twelfth (removed in 1885), the Choir Dulciana (removed in 1970) and the Pedal Violoncello (removed in 1970). Parts of the Choir Cone Gamba and Gemshorn will require lengthening and reconstruction. A replacement Hill Flageolet of 1881 has been donated from a dismantled organ in Sydney which had been built with parts of other organs. Harmonic trebles fitted to several of the manual reed ranks will be removed and the pipes remade to their original length.
It is hoped that the above work will begin shortly following receipt of generous funds from The Annie Danks Trust.
Finally, work on the typical Hill & Son ‘dovecote’ swell box has started, with original paint finishes and dimensions being restored. The shutters will be refelted, the shutter bearings have been restored and the steel handles will be covered in fresh black enamel.
Fund raising overall has proceeded well during the past year, with sufficient received to complete all of the windchests and the majority of the pipework. Major fund raising goals are now:
- To complete work on the glass walls to the organ basement.
- To cover the completion of the wind system and combination actions.
- To complete the organ casework through the restencilling of the two 16ft towers and lateral flats as well as carving replacement urns, lyres and the central pediment sculpture, all of which were sadly removed from the instrument and placed on the later 1990 J.W. Walker & Sons organ at Adelaide Town Hall.
Other work on the infrastructure and building space around the organ in the Barossa Regional Gallery is progressing with input from the Barossa based Friends of Hill & Son Grand Organ. This includes work on a large basement level glass viewing area where the organ’s mechanical action, Barker Lever action and winding system will be easily able to be viewed. This is anticipated to be a valuable point of interest to the general public as it provides secure visual access to areas of the organ not normally accessible.
Swell windchest restoration in progress
Swell Double Trumpet boots
Great fluework above 4ft
Pedal pipes on restored chests
Pedal pipes on restored chests
Dovecote swell box
Four photos above are the final phases in the restoration of the Swell windchests
Photos: JRM (May 2008)