St Mary's Church
Felmersham, Bedfordshire
Church Organ

The organ was built in 1873 and is the work of John Nicholson. Click Here for more information on the organ.
The major items of the organ such as wind reservoir, chests and soundboards had lasted for 130 years, without renovation, and they were suffering from the effects of fair wear and tear. Between January and April 2007 the organ was repaired at a cost of 46,856 made possible by a grant of 24,771 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a further 22,085 raised by concerts, coffee mornings, grants and a substantial bequest.

Phase 1 - The Installation of a New Blower

Originally the organ was pumped by hand however in 1936 an electric blower was installed and this remained in service until 2005 when it finally failed. A new blower was installed in March 2005 by Robert Shaftoe who besides being an organ repairer is a cabinet maker.
Consequently he constructed a new case as well as fitting the blower.
The cost of this work was 2,092.
< Robert Shaftoe installing the blower

Phase 2 - Major Repair of the Organ

Synopsis of Organ Restoration work carried out by Nicholson & Company. The work started in January 2007 and was completed in April 2007.

  • Pipe-work was removed, thoroughly cleaned, stoppers refitted and greased plus reeds restored to correct speech.

  • Soundboards (Great and Swell) renovated and split timbers corrected, broken animal glue joints and perished leather replaced. Other work involved broken sliders repaired and adjusted for free and smooth working.

  • Pedal Open Diapason and Bourden Chests renovated by splits screwed and filled, wind-ways flooded with glue, pallets cleaned off and recovered with felt and leather, springs cleaned, lubricated and reset.

  • Console and case timbers cleaned and waxed. New wiring and switches installed.

  • Keyboard cleaned and regulated with recovering of discoloured keys.

  • Pedal-board keys refaced with springs adjusted.

  • Key mechanism cleaned and overhauled with pedal pneumatics re-leathered.

  • Stop and combination action re-bushed, regulated and fitted with new centres.

  • Swell shutters refitted to ensure correct closing.

  • The large wind reservoir was re-leathered with top grade sheepskin and checked for wind tightness.

  • Blower unit was moved to the inside the organ.
    The whole instrument was fine tuned and regulated throughout.

Organ in the News
Ann Greenish      Paul Keeble (Churchwarden)
Rev David Mason (Vicar)    Victoria Webb (Anglia TV)

Anglia TV News included an item about the organ restoration and the Heritage Lottery Fund grant in their Maundy Thursday (2007) broadcasts. Anglia's presenter, Victoria Webb filmed the programme in St Mary's church and Ann Greenish played the organ.
Bedford on Sunday included an article in their Easter Sunday 2007 newspaper including a comment from Robert Llewellyn, Heritage Lottery Fund's manager for the East of England, supporting the project.

Church Organ Restoration Completed on Time

Paul Keeble, the Churchwarden, filed the following report in the local newsletter. Nicholson & Company have "pulled out all the stops" to complete the organ restoration in time for Easter. They handed over the organ on Maundy Thursday after completing 6 weeks work on site over a three month period and 4 weeks work carried out in the factory at Malvern.

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