The Great Waltham Abbey Organ Rebuild of 2018-19 has begun!
Well, a comparatively small part of it has, in a painstaking and at times hair-raising operation lasting some eight hours (not counting site prep and clearing by some very patient bell-ringers) and involving the closure of part of the church.
The organ’s trusty old blower was dismantled, and a hoist erected in the tower to winch the heavy pieces down through the bell-hatch and away to the Surrey workshop of The Duplex Pipe Organ and Blower Company. Conveniently for everyone involved, Duplex also have the know-how to refurbish a wind reservoir and regulator which live in the blowing chamber, and to renew the specialised electrics that manage the phased starting up and shutting down of the whole organ in sync with that of the blower motor.
Might we just as well (i.e. more economically) have acquired a new blower? No! – organ blowers are virtually bespoke, and, the old one was well enough built in the 1950s to keep going for a very long time given timely maintenance.
Meanwhile, the specialised removal of some asbestos, previously made safe by saturation in oil to save removing the blower specially, can be put off no longer. In the immortal words of Michael Flanders: Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do!