Liddiatt Organ Restoration
St. John the Baptist Church organ.
The organ was built by Thomas Liddiatt and Sons in 1913.
Thomas was originally a joiner based at nearby Leonard Stanley, who diversified into organ building, finally handing over the business to his sons. The cost of the instrument in 1913 was £300. The Corporation of New York paid half the cost on the condition that the congregation raised the other half, which they duly achieved, as witnessed by the presence of the instrument today. The tubular pneumatic action of the organ was originally supplied by air pressure from hand-pumped bellows. It was converted to an electric blower in 1953, given in memory of John and Olivia Camm of Weir Farm, by their children.
The organ last had major restoration work carried out in 1969 by Osmond & Co., Taunton.
At the beginning of April, Tony Cawston started essential remedial work on the organ.
The organ mechanism in general had been presenting difficulties to players for some considerable time. Problems with the 'touch' of the pedalboard had been a major source of consternation. Very light foot pressure on the pedals would cause unwanted notes to sound. This 'hair trigger' effect was a constant distraction for all organists during performance.
The problem was rectified by adjusting the pedal springs, which form the rear hinge point of each pedal. Increasing the hinge uplift tensions provided more resistance to the initial movement of each pedal.
During the course of these operations, a number of air leaks detrimental to the responsiveness of the action were also discovered and duly rectified. Air pressure supplied to the organ by means of an electric motor and air impeller had always been a source of unnecessary noise. The air impeller was both out of rotational balance and always running much faster than necessary, due to the nature and type of electric motor employed. Further, the necessary vibration compliant coupling from the blower housing to the organ air reservoir had become rigid and inflexible over time. All these factors contributed to a level of ambient noise which was both unnecessary and distracting.
Rebuilding the impeller mechanism to incorporate a three-phase variable speed motor along with isolating the transmission of the general mechanical vibration generated by the blower by replacing the old coupling with a modern and more compliant material, has significantly improved this problem. A small increase in the general air pressure available to the organ has also improved the sounding of some pipes within the more important ranks.
Ongoing restoration work to the organ casework and fixings will result in more ease of access to the vital components within the organ, providing significant advantages to any future maintenance and tuning operations.
amount of free travel before the pedal-operated the pneumatic valve was the solution to this particular issue. On the main keyboards, another regular complaint was the delay between pressing a key and the note sounding, along with the sluggish response when playing a repetitive keystroke. With a pneumatic action, a key pressed on the keyboard supplies air pressure to a soft leather diaphragm or 'purse' situated under the organ pipe. This moves up under the air pressure supplied by the keyboard and actuates the main valve
Thereafter, adjusting the
to the organ pipe via a 'push rod'. Any inflexibility or stiffness in this leather diaphragm slows the response time. Softening these leathers with French Chalk (talcum powder) and adjusting the air valve at the keyboard has largely overcome the problem, but the installation of a series of 'damp chasers' (low-level heaters) under the diaphragm housings will ensure the continued improvement of the general action in future.