Blower Installation – Day 2

Day 2 of the installation process got off to a good start; here, Keith and Martin (on floor!) go to great lengths to align the new blower perfectly with the box above, which encloses multiple non-return louvres to prevent wind moving back towards the blower itself.


The new stop-start control is fitted onto the console:


Finally, the whole lot is left running on test, ensuring that the start-up time is correctly adjusted and that the blower is delivering capacity to cover a sustained chord held on Full Organ; the new starter appears on the wall on the left:


At last!  Time to celebrate a job well done by the whole team from Watkins and Watson, with minimum fuss and ahead of the scheduled time:


Thanks once again to all who have put so much time and energy into overseeing this project; Martin Legg and his staff at Watkins and Watson, Stephen Derringer, the Diocesan Organ Advisor, the staff of British Organ Blowers and DRB Engineering, who submitted alternative solutions for consideration, Chris from Ventbrook Ltd., the traffic management company, who oversaw the traffic control to allow the movement of the old blowers out and the new one in, and who was so very helpful in that process, and, not least, the Wardens of Ormskirk Parish Church who have each put their own efforts into ensuring that we got the very best solution possible.  Now we have a working instrument again, we can look back to the original part of the restoration process!




Blower installation – Day 1

Having travelled to Ormskirk from Poole, Martin Legg and his team arrived, ready for the task of dismantling and removing the old blowing plant, running cabling for the new switchgear and installing the new starter, preparing for installation and commissioning on Day 2.

The afternoon was spent dismantling the 1927 blowers, which was a task in itself!  The photograph below shows the process partially completed; the blowers are disconnected and the motor and starter have been removed; the blowers themselves, however, remain in situ.


6:00pm saw the road closure in place, with traffic lights restricting the flow on the A570 past the church wall; here, we can see just how little room there is for manoeuvre.



All the movement of equipment had to take place through the door leading straight onto the carriageway; this leads down a tunnel under the churchyard to the blowing chamber beyond:


A mobile crane had to be used to take the weight of the new blower, which finally arrived in its new home:



All is now set for Day 2!





Blower update – July 2017

Watkins and Watson

As you will have seen, we have been without a blower since April, and the decision-making process has been an extremely long and tortuous one.  However, a decision has now been reached and the order will be placed with Watkins and Watson, Ltd., of Poole, Dorset.  This has seemed to be the best option for a variety of reasons, taking into account all the factors concerned.  We now have to hope that the work can be completed in time for the licensing of our new Priest-in-Charge, Rev. Pauline Bicknell, on Wednesday 30 August.  This had seemed a long time away, but is now looming large!

In short, the work will be carried out over a few days, and will involve removal of the old blowers, replacement by a new, single blower and replacement of the starter system, which had also failed and, like the blower, dates from 1927 at the latest!  90 years isn’t really a bad innings!  The new system will involve and continuous soft-start, so that the blower speed will increase gradually, avoiding sudden stresses on the mechanical parts, and being less audibly obvious.

We should point out that each of the other two firms who had tendered for this work (British Organ Blowers, Ltd., of Derby and DBS Engineering of Deeside) had put a huge amount of effort into their considerations and suggestions, and anyone finding themselves in a similar position would be well-advised to approach either or both of them, as well, of course, as Watkins and Watson, when considering their options.  This has been a very long process!

Tom Bell

Not, strictly speaking, a post about the organ; however, we are delighted to congratulate Tom Bell on his appointment by the Royal College of Organists as Regional Director for the North West of England and the Isle of Man.

Tom, who is currently Organist and Choirmaster at St Michael’s, Chester Square, London (where one of his predecessors was Sir Arthur Sullivan, of Gilbert & Sullivan fame) had his first experiences of the organ here in Ormskirk, where he sang as a chorister and where his father, Philip, served for a time as Organist.  The structure of Regional Directors is a new venture by the RCO, which is the premier body of organists in the UK, in an attempt to reach out into the community.  Tom has done a lot of outreach work already, is a regular contributor to the Organists’ Review, and is Artistic Director of the London Organ Day, amongst other ventures.

Visit his website at:



Blower Update

We are currently considering three options and hope to make a decision in the very near future.  We have received professional advice from three potential top-quality contractors, each of whom has suggested a different solution.  All these companies have given us first-rate attention and are worthy of consideration by anyone finding themselves in the same situation!  The companies concerned are Watkins & Watson, Ltd., of Poole, British Organ Blowers, Ltd., of Derby and DBS Engineering, Ltd., of Deeside.  The first two have long track records of first-rate specialist knowledge and the third has done very successful remedial work on a number of major installations, including Liverpool and Chester Cathedrals.


Our options are as follows:

  1. Install a single, reconditioned blower, being one which was previously in use for a short period at the church of St Mary, Redcliffe, Bristol, including a new motor and starter.  This is the Watkins & Watson suggestion.
  2. Install two new BOB blowers to replace the existing pair, but running independently, along with new starter arrangements.
  3. Re-engineer the faulty parts and fit a new motor and switchgear; the suggestion of DRB Engineering.

We are just waiting for the final estimate to come in, after which we hope to be able to proceed.

It just remains to thank all these firms for their kind attention overt this period.

Blowing Plant RIP

After 90 years of continuous service, our blower engineers, Watkins and Watson, tell us that the time has come for its replacement.  Following two rounds of major surgery over the past few years, it is now beyond repair.  Reflecting the size of the instrument, it is an unusually large blowing plant, which is necessary in order to deliver the requisite quantities of wind at high pressures.  (For the technically-minded, the lowest pressure on this instrument is 4″wg for the Choir Organ!)  And so the organ, for the moment, is silent.  We hope to be able to remedy this in the near future.











04 June 2016 saw the annual Summer Fair at OPC; this year, it was themed around the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations.


To raise awareness of the organ, four short recitals were organised, to provide music as visitors looked around the church.


10:30 am and 11:30 am

Image result for "terry crolley"

Terry Crolley, MSc, FRSA, FLSM;

Organist of St Margaret’s PC, Altrincham


10:30 –

Overture to Occasional Oratorio .   G.F. Handel

Arioso.   J.S. Bach

Voluntary in D.   J. Hook

Intermezzo (Cavalleria Rusticana).   P. Mascagni

Fugue on Carillon Soissons Cathedral.    M. Durufle

Largo.   S. Burtonwood

Alla Marcia.   J. Ireland


11:30 –

Rigaudon.   A. Capra

Largo.   G. F. Handel

Prelude and fugue in b.   J.S. Bach

Intermezzo (Cavalaria Rusticana).   P. Mascagni

Toccata.   A. Knevel



2:15pm and 3:15 pm


Simon Russell, MA (Cantab),FTCL, FLCM, LGSM, ARCM, ARCO, FLCM

Organist of St Mary’s PC, Nantwich;

Regional Director of the Royal School of Church Music



Chorale prelude on Abridge. C.S. Lang (1891-1971)

Chorale Prelude on ‘O Mensch, bewein’ dein’ Sunde gross’ (BWV 622) J.S. Bach (1685-1750)

Chorale Prelude on Martyrdom. CHH Parry (1848-1918) and also the one on Rockingham

Meditation on Love Unknown . Francis Jackson (b.1917)

Chorale Prelude on Herzliebster Jesu. Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Chorale Prelude on Caswall. Peter Hurford (b.1930)

Hymn Prelude on Song 13. Percy Whitlock (1903-1946)

Chorale Prelude on ‘Komm, heiliger Geist,Herre Gott’. Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707)

Pipedreams 2016 tour



On Sunday 22 May, Ormskirk Parish Church was the venue for a group of around 50 organ enthusiasts from across the USA, as part of their fortnight-long ‘Pipedreams Tour 2016’ of the North of England and Scotland.  This annual tour takes members of the group around the world; this year’s focus being the North of England and Scotland, they were visiting a number of interesting organs, under organiser J Michael Berone, along with UK link Tom Bell, who started his musical life here in Ormskirk.  On the day of the visit, OPC fitted in between visits to Lancaster Priory and Liverpool Cathedral, although they had also had the opportunity of visiting the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool, as well as St George’s Hall.  Amongst other venues visited was Adlington Hall, Cheshire, where the 1670 instrument reputed to be by ‘Father’ Smith had been rebuilt in 1741/2 by Richard Parker, who also undertook the 1758 rebuild in Ormskirk.  Tom Bell gave an excellent demonstration of the organ and its resources, and other members of the tour had the opportunity to try it out.  Altogether, a very interesting day which they seemed to have enjoyed, before hastening off towards Liverpool!

Drone Photographs

During the preparation for the new CD – ‘The Organ of Ormskirk Parish Church’, several photographs were taken, using a drone camera.  Photos were by Martin Maynard of Sounds Good ODM Ltd., the producers of the CD

Some of these appear below:

Aerial View 2

The church from the south-west.


Aerial view 1

The church from the south


The church from the west


New Organ CD now available

Organ Loft 1

Entitled ‘The Organ of Ormskirk Parish Church’ this CD has been recorded to demonstrate the many sounds available from this versatile instrument.  Played by Colin Porter, Organist of Mossley Hill Parish Church, Liverpool, the details are as follows:

The Organ of Ormskirk Parish Church – recording and programme notes:

It was decided to record the organ exactly as it is heard in the building.  On that basis, no enhancement has been made to the sound and so the recording was made using two Sony electret condenser cardioid microphones facing the organ diagonally at a height of only 5’, from the Scarisbrick Chapel.  The pieces have been selected to reflect the variety of sounds available from the instrument, whilst accounting for the current deficiencies, which it is hoped a restoration would rectify.

The Programme is as follows:

March in D – Best:  Included here chiefly because WT Best was probably the greatest concert organist of all time and was a local man, playing at St George’s Hall, Liverpool, to huge audiences.  Whilst he was responsible for many transcriptions of orchestral music to bring them to the wider population, this is an entirely original piece.  It provides a good impression of the massive Full Organ sound.

Sonata pour l’Offertoire – Petrali:   Petrali was the teacher of the great Italian organist/composer, Marco Enrico Bossi.  This piece was written as an incidental piece for the mass; it demonstrates movement between Great, Swell and Choir.

Trumpet Voluntary – Clarke: Clarke was the first Organist of the new St Paul’s Cathedral, London, built by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire, and became simultaneously Organist of the Chapel Royal.  His inability to establish a relationship with the woman of higher social status with whom he had fallen in love resulted in his committing suicide by shooting himself.  He is buried at St Paul’s.  Nevertheless, this piece is a staple of many weddings, and features the Tuba on the Choir Organ.

Fugue in G – Krebs:  This piece has been selected to demonstrate the organ’s ability to deliver the lighter music of C17/C18 northern Europe in a piece by Krebs, who was a pupil of JS Bach.

Choeur des Sauvages – Rameau:  Rameau was born at the end of the C17.  This piece is part of some incidental music to a play with a plot involving French and Spanish settlers and their interaction with the ‘Savages’, i.e., the indigenous population.  There is nothing remotely savage about this piece!

Allegro – Thorley: The Ormskirk organ still retains a few stops from the C18 predecessor instrument, including flutes on the Choir Organ.  These are used to effect in a piece of music contemporaneous with them, written for organ without pedals.

Grand Choeur – Fletcher: A feature of the Ormskirk organ is the distinctive characteristics of each of the departments; the Choir Organ is in fact two divisions, with the Enclosed Choir being, in reality, a Solo Organ, albeit on the third manual.  This piece demonstrates the differences between the Great and Swell, heard at the opening, the Swell on its own, which is almost as powerful as the Great and has a massive crescendo ability, and the Choir, heard in the lighter interludes, although not markedly smaller in volume.

Gavotte – Camidge:  Camidge was Organist of York Minster and wrote a large amount of light-weight organ music for the classical English organ without pedals.  This piece alternates between the C18 Choir Open Diapason (originally on the Great in the predecessor instrument) and the Great no.3 Open Diapason of 1887.

Te Deum Prelude – Charpentier:  More recently adopted as the European Anthem, this piece was popularised by Dr Noel Rawsthorne during his tenure as Organist of Liverpool Cathedral.  It demonstrates the Tuba in the playing of a large orchestral transcription and is very effective, although Charpentier would never have had the opportunity to hear it in this form!

Post Communion – Morandi:  This piece is in a lighter idiom; Morandi was a major Italian composer in the first half of the C19 and this piece forms a bridge between the classical style and the incoming romantic movement.  It has something in common with the slightly later Court music of Johann Strauss II in Vienna.

Scherzo Pastorale – Federlein:  Gottfried Heinrich Federlein’s writing, although from the early C20, is more modern in idiom; here, the Choir Clarinet features.  This delightful scherzo pastorale is one of his more popular pieces.

Prelude and Fugue in D – Buxtehude:  Buxtehude was the organist whom legend has it that JS Bach walked many miles to hear.  It will be clear from this piece the extent to which he influenced Bach.  It demonstrates the ability of this instrument to render some authenticity to north European organ music of the baroque period.

Rondeau – Mouret:  Mouret represents the early C18 French school of organ-writing. This piece is a fanfare-like trumpet tune, again rendered on the Tuba against the remainder of the Great, Swell and Pedal.

Sarabande – Karg-Elert:  Karg-Elert was a German organist at the beginning of the C20.  Probably his most famous piece is ‘Nun Danket Alle Gott’ from the ‘66 Chorale Preludes for Organ’; this miniature from the same collection demonstrates the string-tones on the Swell of the Ormskirk organ.   The final episode is delivered on the Clarinet.

Bluebell Polka – F Stanley:  Not to be confused with the great blind organist John Stanley, no-one seems to know who F Stanley was, although this polka became popular in the mid 1950’s rendered on an accordion!  The sound of a French Trompette can be heard in this very lightweight piece; it is achieved by the combination of the Choir Clarinet and Orchestral Oboe!

War March of the Priests – F Mendelssohn:  Written as part of the incidental music to Racine’s play Athelie, this has become very well-known and provides a tongue-in-cheek option as a voluntary at the end of a service involving a great number of clergy!


Colin Porter has been Organist of Mossley Hill Parish Church, Liverpool, since
1985, presiding at the famous Father Willis Organ. Along with this appointment,
he has also been since 2004 Hon. Organist & Director of Music at St. Barnabas,
Penny Lane. He is Chairman of the North & Midlands School of Music, along with playing organ
recitals in many churches, cathedrals and other venues, including Lancaster
Town Hall, where he is a regular concert organist and Vice-Chairman of the Ashton Hall Organ Restoration Project. In a number of school holidays,
he plays for service in various cathedrals when accompanying the choir of
St.John’s College, Southsea. He has been a personal friend of the current Organist
at Ormskirk Parish Church since 1980, is Godfather to one of his children and
is currently tutor to student organists at the church.

The CD is available from the church; otherwise, contact the Organist on +441695 578640.