Concerned for loss of heritage

Organ Matters

New member

I first heard an organ when my grandmother took me to church at the age of 5. And then I wanted one in the house. That was a problem. Three harmoniums later at the age of 14 finally I got to learn the organ and play a wonderful 3 manual at school. Then at the age of 15 I used a little money I had inherited to rescue an organ from a redundant London church and we knocked down 4 walls and 4 ceilings to get it into the house. At the age of 21 I sold my grandmother's house to buy a ruin, big enough to install an organ of course! It had been owned by Led Zepellin who had forgotten about it and fourteen areas of roof didn't exist. I knew that if I didn't take it on it would be either a pile of rubble or a concrete property development - and, built by the architect responsible for the porticos of the White House and of building the Capitol in Washington, that it was too much of a cultural asset and part of the heritage to be lost. We've been promoting concerts by enthusiastic musicians ever since . . . and included the odd organ recital having bought one of the instruments from Addington Palace, the former home of the Royal School of Church Music, then taking an interest in harpsichords . . .

Two decades later . . . I was looking for a pedalboard for a harpsichord and a friend told me about an organ being scrapped . . . I didn't know how appalled the experience would leave me . . . perhaps the first photo says it all:

The organ was bulldozed inside the building the next day.

On account of this I decided that the King Of Instruments needed properly promoting on the concert platform. Our 11 rank Hunter was very nice but hardly spectacular on the concert hall rankings . . . So I bought a digital instrument that served Londonderry Cathedral for a dozen years where it was noted for being remarkably effective. It was superb. I was completely taken in by it - very impressed - for about 3 months. We did a concert on it with a superb organist and it did very well . . . but . . . I didn't think it was good enough. I didn't like the Open Diapason on the Great nor the Voix Celestes on the Swell . . . and the Choir could sound like a Hammond.

This set me on a voyage of madness. The final problem of Hammondesque sonorities on the Choir was most difficult to solve but has been solved. The rest of the instrument has been improved throughout by meticulous attention to detail of the speakers. The lack of top brilliance has been solved by a simulation of octave couplers which work really well . . . but there was still the problem of the Diapason and Swell strings . . . What was the answer to adding two stops? Well by adding two manuals, of course!

Starting off as a purely English cathedral instrument, the two manuals gave an Italian and a German flavour. Then I realised that it could be configured to play in the French manner with the division of reeds and flues. Then I discovered Albi and St Maximin . . . so it could do French Baroque too . . . and organists are welcome to come and play, practice or perform.

And my quest to making this instrument more exciting has spilled not only into membership of the EOCS Electronic Organ Constructors' Society but into a forum not for general chats perhaps about which electronic is better than another (my instrument contains technology from all the commercial players) but with a specific focus on "How do we make sure that organs are preserved, how do we make them inspirational, how do we make the public perception of the organ more "cool", more exciting etc" and so I focus on particular areas such as Temperament, Voicing from the Dom Bedos heritage, registration in possibly non-obvious ways etc - and in this way on the Organ Matters forum, I hope that these subject areas will not detract from other fora but will build gradually into stoking the boilers of enthusiasm.

I have frequently found this forum from time to time in my quest for organ related subjects - and on this occasion found it again on the subject of introducing organs to Nigeria and Ghana - it's wonderful here to be looking at such a worldwide perspective and spreading enthusiasm to parts that others cannot reach . . .

Best wishes

David Pinnegar


New member
Thank you David for your interesting story. It is tragic when wonderful things are just cast aside, or dumped on scrap heaps. I applaud you for your mission to rescue Organs and buildings. Too many times buildings and their contents are left to crumble away into a ruin. They are our heritage and should be preserved, new organs will be built, but they cannot replace their ancestors.



Very interesting story. Thanks being proactive on trying save older organ units for our future organist/musicians pleasure. Welcome to the forum.

Ghekorg7 (Ret)

Rear Admiral Appassionata (Ret)
Hi David ... heartbreaking picture.. is it from the WWII ? I 'm goin' mad with such things.
I had fun with your Led Zepellin story and of course that you wanted a real pipe organ in the house !!! I can imagine the face of your Granny...
Big trouble in the path you chosen, but is worth it and is for a very GOOD CAUSE.
See you again