The Musical Heritage at ChristChurch
John Heald John was born into a musical family, his mother being an accomplished soprano and his Aunt a well respected teacher of pianoforte and music theory in Hull. Piano and music theory lessons started at 7 years of age with his Aunt. Organ lessons at 12 years, with Peter Goodman ( the Hull City Organist ) and Director of Music at Hull Minster on which organ and latterly on the very large Hull City Hall concert organ, John had his lessons.
John played the harmonium at primary school for assemblies from the age of 8 and took his first organist post at the age of 14 at Sutton on Hull Methodist Church. He can honestly say from that first post he has never been without an organist's post to this day. Although music was not his professional career, he has always maintained a keen involvement in music, Since his retirement as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Lincoln, his organ playing has taken over his life and he is currently Organist and Director of Music at ChristChurch Methodist / URC church in Finkin Street, Grantham, and is in great demand in many of the local Parishes for playing at weddings and funerals including the Saxonwell group, the Caythorpe group, where John lives and at St Mary's Roman Catholic church in Grantham.
John very kindly agreed to give a recital which we can all enjoy by clicking the play button below.
The instrument was constructed in Forster and Andrews premises in Charlotte Street Hull at a cost of £335 and completed in May 1857. Before it was despatched to Grantham a recital was given on it by Mr Skelton organist of Holy Trinity Church, Hull (where in much later years our current organist was an organ scholar) and Mr Joseph King Andrews, a partner in the firm, to an invited audience of 200 people. The official opening in Grantham took place on 23rd June 1857 by William Dixon, the organist of St. Wulframs, Grantham
In 1912 Messers William Hill & Sons reconditioned the organ adding a new 32 note pedal board, a Swell Octave Coupler and Tremulant.
In 1951 the organ was rebuilt by Summers & Barnes when a new Swell soundboard and Swell Box together with Electro-Pneumatic action were fitted. Also at this time some tonal changes were made comprising a new Swell Cornopean, the Gt Bell Gamba was put into the Swell Box as a Voix Celeste to be played against the new Echo Viole (creating an ethereal wavering sound still to be heard) and a new Gt Dulciana.
The organ once again gave stirling service until 1994 when Messers Aistrup of Horncastle under took a complete cleaning and renovation of the instrument , replacing the damaged Gt Trumpet pipes and the Sw Oboe pipes and re-instating the fourth rank in the Gt Sesquialtera. A 32ft Acoustic Bass was added to the Pedal Organ which had been extended over the years by the addition of a Flute, Bourdon and Trombone. A setter board was also added at this time together with an increase in the Thumb Piston system.
Some two years later a rank of heavy pressure Tromba and Clarion pipes were obtained from a similar vintage Foster and Andrews organ from Horncastle Parish Church and installed on the Great Organ.
In 1999 following a bequest from the estate of Mr and Mrs Allan ( a previous long serving organist) Mr Michael Fletcher of Halifax was selected to install a detached Console to enable the organ to be played from the main body of the Church at ground level and to incorporate a 'state of the art' Piston Capture and Control System using micro chip technology, thus bringing this remarkable 142 year old instrument completely up to date. The technology has changed but as the late Mr Laurence Elvin in his book 'Forster and Andrews Their Small Church Organs' stated, 'we are still able to hear the Diapason Chorus just as Forster and Andrews voiced it all those years ago in 1857 at Finkin Street in Grantham'
The old Scottish name for the organ 'a box of whistles' remains to this day a fairly good description of the arrangement and operation of pipe organs. As to the magnitude of the operation of the organ, it is difficult for the casual listener to realise what a great number of separate pipes are in operation, given voice by air blown into a huge reservoir by the new fan blower.
Each stop of the very large collection ranged around the organist at the new console, controls a rank of pipes representing a timbre of instrumental quality and numbering up to 224 pipes each. A flick of one of these stops readies its rank of pipes for speech, the push of one of the many composition pistons located beneath each of the keyboards and by the organists feet combines certain ranks of pipes and may be operated as playing progresses, yielding the organist the infinite variety of tonal sounds and mutations.
Switches, stops, pistons, keys and pedals control hundreds of electro magnets which make instantaneous contact between the new console which is actually a colossal control panel and many hundreds of pipes which utter the desired sounds.