ORGAN OF THE MONTH 92: February 2010

Alexandra Palace, London
("Father" Henry Willis, 1875)

Click on the thumbnail to obtain a full-size image


Although this is definitely an "out-of-town" organ, it does have Birmingham connections:  BOA member John Pryer is Organist here, and BOA President Paul Carr is giving a recital here during this month (16th February at 7.30pm).  This huge and (as may be seen from the photographs) caseless instrument is situated at one end of the enormous Great Hall at Alexandra Palace.  In fact, your Webmaster took the photograph on the left during an indoor classic car exhibition, hence the banner!  

Both hall and organ have a troubled history.  The original instrument for this building was totally destroyed by fire just three weeks after its installation in 1873.  In 1875 "Father" Willis installed a replica of the lost organ: this was damaged during World War I and subsequently rebuilt in 1929 by Henry Willis III, when Marcel Dupré described it as "the finest concert organ in Europe".  Following yet more damage during World War II, the organ was put into storage in 1950 but it was not until 1970 that Henry Willis IV began moving it to the factory to await restoration.  In 1980, another fire destroyed the Hall and those parts of the organ that had remained there.  So, after being silent for 40 years, it was a momentous occasion when the partially restored organ was heard for the first time in August 1990, since when restoration work has continued as funding allows.

Although the Choir Organ is now fully restored, less than half of the stops of the other divisions are working at present, and the Specification therefore lists only those.  The full specification contains no less than one hundred stops! 


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Last modified: February 28, 2010