Drawing by Andrew Foy
►Lest We Forget Memorial
►From our Past
Ralph Lane OAM, writes:
“The movement to refurbish the Hill organ began in 1994 and the first work started only two years later. Much was achieved through revenue from concert activity, government grants and personal donations so that, by 2013, the majority of the pipe work and most of the mechanisms had been entirely renewed. The year 2016 then loomed and with it the thought of completing an objective that had begun twenty years earlier. What remained to be done? Quite a lot as it happened and, amongst it, some financially speaking ‘big ticket’ items such as the re-leathering of the enormous bellows (heard but unseen under the organ since 1892) and, by contrast, the very intricate, loom like, mechanism that allows the organ’s three keyboards to be coupled together. But that wasn’t all.
We relished the task of repairing, cleaning and polishing the tin and timber fašade pipes as well as cleaning the delicate filigree tracery that visually compliments them and, in the process, disposing of 124 years of detritus and dust (this having its downside insofar as two of the workers contracted an unwelcome dust mite-borne rash). Additionally, there were the stop rods (those pulled out to bring the instrument’s individual voices into play), all extremely worn and damaged after a century and a quarter of constant use and associated stop mechanisms as well.
So, here was the prospect of bringing a long held hope to fruition. The work would cost around $140,00.00 and National Trust funds of $19,000.00 were specifically earmarked to be spent on the tasks outlined above. Work began on 28 September by removing the bellows as well as numerous mechanical linkages around the keyboards. Gargantuan and extremely heavy, the bellows required a team of seven to extricate it from beneath the organ. It will now require six to seven weeks of detailed and exacting work to remove and replace the leather skirting with material imported from the UK. This is presently in hand.
In this age of seeming ‘instant gratification’ it is pleasing to report some of our own. Within the week of 13 October all the metal fašade pipes were removed from the case, blown free of dust, washed, polished and returned to their places. Similarly, the timber pipes were blown out and the shellac varnish applied to them (and the organ case) in 1924 removed. In the right hand photo we see the 75% tin hand planed metal pipes as they would have appeared when the organ was erected in the church in 1892. The work continues and, when finished, will testify to the great and concerted effort made to all but completely refurbish this noble and historic instrument to its former glory.”