Building an organ
Use the tabbed headings below to move between different elements of the building of an organ.
Every organ is designed individually for its specific building, to fit both the acoustics and the architecture; and great care is taken to ensure that each organ has a logical and accessible internal layout. Harrisons use Computer Aided Design (CAD), which has the advantage of ease in producing accurate, detailed working drawings, and allows our designers to experiment with a variety of layouts.
- We make our own organs in our own workshop.
- Nothing is mass-produced: not a single tracker or power-motor is made without a particular organ in mind. There are no short cuts.
- The firm has an unbroken tradition of slider chests, going back to 1861.
- We cast our own pipe metal by traditional methods to the specification required for each stop.
- The firm’s own voicers control every aspect of the organ’s musical development.
- Each new organ is first set up in our workshop to ensure that every part is functioning correctly. It is then dismantled and packed for dispatch.
- After it has been installed by our own organ builders, the instrument is finished with the detailed voicing and tonal blending for which the firm is renowned.
Harrison organs have a reputation for longevity. A new organ is guaranteed for the first fifteen years; even after that it will require little attention. A busy city church could expect its H&H organ to run smoothly for 50 years before its first major maintenance work. A small country organ might last twice as long.
We provide a prompt and efficient maintenance service.
Restoration work requires the ability to place the aims of the original builder first. But when we build new organs, whatever their size, they are always instantly recognisable as Harrison instruments, with our characteristically colourful and exquisitely-blended voicing, closely associated with the English choral tradition.
Since the mid-1980s the majority of new H&H organs have employed mechanical action, although the firm still willingly uses electro-pneumatic action where considerations of architecture or musical style make it the best choice.
Each new organ that leaves the Durham workshop is installed and finished in every detail by our own organ builders. Each is a work of art: an authentic musical instrument with its own aesthetic integrity.
- Chamber organs for Ely Cathedral, Ripon Cathedral and others
- Practice Organs (II/5) for James Lancelot, Nottingham High School, Christopher Storr, Mark Venning
- Douglas, IoM, St George’s Church (2003: II/22 )
- Fenham, Newcastle, St Robert’s Church (1980: II/13)
- Glenalmond College, Perth (2007: II/26)
- Leighton Buzzard Parish Church (1989: III/35)
- Tunbridge Wells, St Augustine’s R.C. Church (1994: II/12)
- Twickenham Parish Church (1996: II/20)
- Twyford Parish Church, Hampshire (2006: II/18, in the spirit of the 1867 Walker organ)
- West Ham Parish Church (1986: II/21)
- Winchester College, Fromond’s Chantry (2005: II/6)
- Windsor Castle, The Private Chapel (1997: I/6)
- Denmark, St Alban’s Church, Copenhagen (2005: II/21, including 7 stops from 1887 Walker organ )
- South Korea, Seoul Cathedral (1985/2006: II/20)
- U.S.A. Emmanuel Church, Chestertown, MD (1993: II/23)
- U.S.A. Church of the Good Shepherd, Rocky Mount, NC (1998: II/22)
- Bury St Edmunds, St Edmundsbury Cathedral (2010: IV/59, including 36 stops from old organ)
- Cirencester Parish Church (2009: IV/63, including 30 Willis stops from old organ)
- Exeter Cathedral (2003: Minstrel organ, 8 stops)
- Glasgow University Memorial Chapel (2005: III/48, including 30 stops from 1928 Willis organ)
- Lichfield Cathedral (2000: nave organ, 13 stops)
- London, Holy Trinity, Sloane St (2012: IV/71, based on pipework by JW Walker, 1891/1934)
- London, Westminster Central Hall (2011: IV/66, based on Hill pipework of 1912)
- St Davids Cathedral, Pembrokeshire (2000: IV/54, including 31 stops from 1883 Willis organ)
- U.S.A. Front Street United Methodist Church, Burlington, NC (2002: III/55)
- U.S.A. Christ Church, Grosse Pointe, MI (2001: III/49)
- U.S.A. St James’s Episcopal Church, Hendersonville, NC (1999: III/44)
- U.S.A. Church of the Holy Spirit, Lake Forest, IL (1995: III/47, based on the 1972 Harrison organ)
- U.S.A. Hope United Church of Christ, St Louis, MO (2002: II/33)
- U.S.A. Trinity Episcopal Church, Vero Beach, FL (1997, moved to new church 2005: III/41)
- U.S.A. St Paul’s Episcopal Church, Winterhaven, FL (1990: III/32)
A remarkable success.”
Dr Harry Bramma, who was Organist at the time, describing Harrisons’ restoration work on the renowned Lewis organ of Southwark Cathedral, which included correction of the pitch and reinstatement of the original wind-pressures.