Visit to Organs in West Cumbria
25th August 2001

Review by Samuel Carradice

This was the first event of the 2001-2 season, and was proposed to supplement our usual calendar which traditionally begins in September. The Bank Holiday weekend was always likely to be difficult for many, but a reasonably respectable party of ten enjoyed the day. It was especially nice to welcome two new members; John Bispham from Greystoke, and Andrew Caskie who has just moved to Cockermouth. Others included myself, Marion Carradice, Clare Mingins, Jane Easterby, Chris Price, Brian Inglesfield, and William and Mrs Tyson.

We began at St. Michael's, Muncaster, which has a single manual (and pedal) instrument by Forster and Andrews dating from 1883. Although tiny, everyone seemed delighted by the tone, and agreed this must rank among the best instruments of its size in the county.

Jane at Muncaster

Lunch was purchased at Holmrook on the way to St. Paul's, Irton, where we consequently arrived ahead of schedule. The Nicholson organ of 1873 has eighteen stops on two manuals. It has great potential, if fully restored, but is severely enclosed, very heavy, and suffers from a shortage of wind for full-organ. We were met here by the organist, Peter Hyde, who is a member of the society. Irton church must have one of the finest views in the country, looking up Wasdale and Eskdale, but today it was sadly obscured by the Cumbrian rain.

We continued to St. Mary's, Gosforth, where there is a Peter Conacher organ of thirteen stops, restored by George Sixsmith in 1984. The organ is well maintained and quite pleasing.

Andrew at Gosforth

Our last official destination was St. Cuthbert's, Seascale. The William Hill organ was built in 1867 for St. Bees Priory and was moved to Seascale in 1897. It was modified in 1927 by Harrison & Harrison, under the direction of George Dixon, and fully restored by Harrisons earlier this year. It has eighteen stops, the Great chorus being especially fine.

To finish the day, most of the party returned to my home for tea and cake, and to experiment with my computer organ which, with three manuals and ninety drawstops, proved sufficient to keep the non-purists entertained.

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