Pipe Organ Preservation Co. (of Ireland)

Preserving and rehousing redundant pipe organs from the island of Ireland

St Patrick's RC Church, Lisburn, Co. Antrim

St Patrick's Church Lisburn is a fine gothic edifice erected in 1900. The original instrument had a single manual and was hand blown. In 1935 a new larger two manual and pedal organ was built on the west gallery by Evans & Barr with 15 stops and electric action working sliderless chests. This organ was completely releathered by Rushworth & Dreaper in 1981 but the leathered motors were giving trouble less than 25 years later.

In 2013 a substantial gift allowed work to proceed and the Pipe Organ Preservation Co. were chosen. It was clear that reliable soundboards and action were the main requirement but it was also necessary to expand the tonal scheme which did not contain any stops higher than 4ft. The area within the tower which housed the organ was under utilised and a lot more space could be devoted to a larger instrument. We approached the work from the viewpoint of what was the maximum size of organ which could be fitted in the space available. Height was no object so we included full-length Open, Metal and Trombone 16ft ranks. Three manual divisions were possible, comfortably containing three times the number of ranks as were in the existing organ. The budget available did not extend far enough to build a completely new organ of this size so we used a larger Evans & Barr organ as a basis which we had in storage. Soundboards and mechanism were to be new and pipes, bellows and swell boxes were to be reused.

The only items retained from the old organ were to be 5 ranks of pipes, casework and swell box. The latter was cut down and became the new choir box. The lower casework panelling was moved back 2 feet to create more room for choir members and the upper casework cantilevered in its original position and repolished a lighter colour. A new terraced console was built with 60 drawstops. For maximum reliability and speed of response, we have used a double magnet system in all three soundboards. This idea was recently used in the new organ of Worcester Cathedral and we have used a reconfigured version in Lisburn. In additional to the standard heavy duty magnet to pull the pallet down, there is a smaller pallet magnet which fires first breaking the pluck making it easier and quicker for the larger magnet to work. Therefore repetition will be much improved from using a single magnet on its own.

Side cross-section of soundboard showing double magnet action

The new organ will be considerably romantic in character giving many possibilities for accompanying voices which will be its main task. In addition to a wide selection of 8ft tone there will be full choruses to Mixture, plenty of weight of pedal tone and a Tromba as the solo reed. The building is quite spacious with a good acoustic so we are looking forward to creating what looks like one of the most exciting organ projects in recent times in Northern Ireland.

Completion is due early in 2014.

Present & proposed specifications (PDF)

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