Saint Edmund, Downham Market, Norfolk

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At the top of the north aisle, the organ chamber was added as part of the rebuilding in 1872.

The organ was originally built by the firm of Walkers in 1873 as a much smaller instrument than now, with painted, stencilled and gilded front pipes. In 1977 it was rebuilt and extended by E. Johnson of Cambridge, the case painted plain matt white and the front pipes painted gold.

In 2002, extensive cracks had opened in the soundboards due to excessive heat in the church, and the instrument was completely dismantled and repaired by Holmes & Swift of Fakenham. The opportunity was taken to re-voice the pipework introduced in 1977 to blend it into a more harmonious chorus with the original 1873 pipework. As well as improving the sound of the organ, the appearance was improved by the case being repainted in more typical Walker hues. (It is hoped that that one day, if funds permit, the front pipes may also be re-painted, stencilled and gilded in the original style.)

 

Church welcomes
Government commitment on Pipe Organs

The Church of England has welcomed a government commitment to “put an end to all this nonsense” that pipe organs should be subject to new regulations governing the disposal of hazardous substances.  Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Minister for Energy, Malcolm Wicks, said the government’s view was that pipe organs do not fall within the scope of the EU Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive.

The Minister said: “Our clear view is that pipe organs do not fall within the scope of the directive and that view is widely accepted in the European Commission.  The DTI is working closely with the Commission, and our aim is to reach a successful conclusion before the directive comes into force on 1 July (2006).”

The Department for Trade and Industry met with the European Commission in June 2006 to confirm that pipe organs will be unaffected by the new regulations before they come into force on 1 July 2006.

Past statements had indicated that pipe organs would be subject to the new regulations, aimed at reducing the risk of waste hazardous materials in electronics with a short life.  Although the DTI had agreed to support a special exemption, this would have had to be renewed every four years.

The Church is backing the Institute of British Organ Building’s campaign to sort out the threat to the centuries old tradition of organ music of which Britain is rightly proud.  Because a lead alloy is essential to the making of organ pipes, it would have been impossible to build new organs [and, indeed, to carry out certain repairs to pipes] after 1 July 2006.

(Report from the Church of England website)