Bevington Organ
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A brief history of the Bevington organ installed in David Sanger's home in the English Lake District.

The Bevington Organ was first built as a house organ in December 1876 for George Mence Smith, an Ironmonger, who owned a large white house in the Broadway, Bexleyheath in Kent. After only three years he gave the organ to the local Congregational Church and duly became their organist. In the organ’s early life there was a tonal change: Bevington substituted an Harmonic Piccolo 2’ for the two-rank Mixture on the Great. It is quite likely that this change took place in 1879. When the organ was installed in that church it was erected in as small a space as possible, presumably because seating was at a premium in those days of full churches, and consequently maintenance was difficult, if not impossible. As a result the pipework is extremely well preserved.

In 1961, the organ was completely overhauled by Colmer Bros. of Thornton Heath (now non-existent). The opportunity was then taken to pull the organ away from the wall, placing some of the pedal pipes behind (originally a single stop - a full-length Open Wood 16’ on pneumatic action) to allow easier access for maintenance. A balanced swell-pedal was added which never functioned particularly well. At that time it was fashionable to modernise anything Victorian and the dark-stained casework was covered with plywood in places and stripped of its stain elsewhere. Fortunately the tonal scheme was left unchanged.

In 1987 the Bexleyheath church was closed to make way for a road scheme. A new church has since been rebuilt on another site, but the Bevington organ was considered the wrong shape and size for the new building. Various options were considered, but the church authorities were keen that the instrument should basically retain its original form, and that it should not be reduced in size or electrified for the new church. The English Lake District in Cumbria was where it was destined to go, returning to its original function as a house organ. The ceiling had to be raised one foot in order to accommodate it, and the Pedal Open Wood pipes had to be discarded, except for those gracing the sides of the case. A new more versatile Pedal department was desirable for both practising and teaching, and the swell pedal was returned to the ratchet variety as it was from 1876 until 1961.

This work, together with the complete restoration of all moving parts, was carried out by Martin K Cross, Church Organ Builder from Grays in Essex, and his assistant Richard Sheppard. They also oversaw the dismantling, removal and re-erection of the Bevington in Cumbria. Plenty of willing helpers from both north and south gave much time and effort to help with dismantling and reassembly. A local man, Canon Frank Hambrey, whose hobby since retiring has been woodwork, carved missing side members of the case and replaced some missing beading.

The pedal stops are all second-hand, the wooden pipes being by Aeolian, the metal Principal 4’ probably by Gray, but the wooden Trombone is of unknown provenance. This latter stop has received new brass tongues throughout. A second blowing plant provides the wind to the pedal department, ensuring that the additional stops do not rob wind from the Great and Swell. The organ is fully mechanical except for the electric current to the two blowers and the stop action to the pedals.

 

Old Wesleyan Chapel Organ

GREAT SWELL PEDAL
Open Diapason 8’ Double Diapason to tenor C 16’ Subbass 16’
Claribel Flute to tenor C 8’ Open Diapason 8’ Bass Flute 8’
Stopped Bass from tenor C 8’ Lieblich Gedact 8’ Principal 4’
Salicional to tenor C 8’ Bell Gamba 8’ Trombone 16’
Principal 4’ Harmonic Flute 4’  
Lieblich Flute to tenor C 4’ Mixture 12.15. II  
Harmonic Piccolo 2’ Cornopean 8’  

COUPLERS

Swell to Great

Swell to Pedal

Great to Pedal

Manual compass: C to G 56 notes

Pedal compass: C to F 30 notes

Carillon and Pipeau were added in 1997