These pipes come from a two-manual Forster and Andrews organ built in 1893 for a church in Scotland and recently installed in a Roman Catholic church in Leeds. They had been damaged and badly repaired over the years and were brought to us for restoration by David Wood of Wood Organ Builders of Huddersfield. George Fowler, who has a remarkable history as a restorer, repaired the flue pipes and Terry Shires, also with wide experience in pipe restoration, gave fresh life to the reeds.
This tricky sort of work would be enough to send most of us round the bend – but it's just one of the skills in regular use in our Leeds workshop. The beautifully crafted eight-foot Hautbois pipes were made by Terry Shires from zinc with spotted metal bells. He says: 'Cutting and soldering mitres is one of my favourite jobs. Preparation and experience helps too!'
The two-manual, 28-stop organ in the First United Methodist Church in Henderson, Kentucky, is nearing completion and Shires was pleased to supply the facade pipes.
The intricate gilded pipe shades, carved by Morgan Faulds Pike, add the crowning touch to this beautiful case.
The instrument has been designed by the American organ builder, Michael Rathke, who spent two years of his early career with Mander Organs in London.
It is catalogued as Opus 10 in the Cincinnati company's expanding output.
It is also pleasing to record that Michael is among our growing number of clients in the United States.
Picture by Nikolai Peek, music director and organist.
It was a great pleasure to receive positive feedback on our work from one of our customers in America.
Among the reed pipes we have made for the Ortloff Organ Company of Massachusetts is this 8' Trumpet stop of zinc with spotted metal bells.
It is to be installed in a new organ being built by Ortloff for St Dunstan's Episcopal Church, Shoreline, Washington.
Jonathan Ortloff kindly wrote on Facebook: 'We are lucky to be able to work with some of the best suppliers in the pipe organ business, including Shires Organ Pipes of Leeds, England.
'They have completed the two reed stops for our Opus 2 in Shoreline WA. The next pipes will be shipped here for racking next week and then to Chris Broome for voicing.'
Here's a Gamba 8ft made by Chris Shires for our organbuilder friends in Malvern, Nicholson and Co. Many thanks to James Atherton for asking us to make this stop which features a zinc body section with spotted ends. Scale: C= 96mm. We recently made a smaller scale Gamba in spotted metal for a private client in Yorkshire who wrote: "Thank you for making such a lovely stop. It blends beautifully with the flutes 8' and 4' and brings added colour to the instrument."
Chris Shires spent a day casting these languids to be fitted into some large-scale Open pipes we are making for a leading organ builder. The brass bar is placed inside to prevent sagging. The diameter of the bar is 3mm Didier, the languid will get three pipes in the higher end of the 16ft octave.
George Fowler has been making mixtures for over 50 years – and as these pictures show, he’s rather good at it.
He began making separate ranks when he was an apprentice at FJ Rogers in Bramley, Leeds, and progressed to making multiple ranks for an entire stop 40 or so years ago.
At present he is making a VI rank mixture, above, for an organ builder in America – that’s 335 pipes in total (and 670 pieces to solder) – made from 80 per cent tin.
Shortly before starting work on the VI rank mixture, George completed a IV rank mixture. He reckons the total time from cutting out the metal to completion of 560 pipes for both stops is about 240 hours.
A meticulous worker who takes pride in each pipe, he says the secrets of good pipe making are patience and dedication. “The important thing is to set it off right, to get the job right from the beginning. Preparation is key.”
And at 71, there are plenty more pipes to make and seams to solder. “I still enjoy my work, it keeps me going,” he says.