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Parish of Great Missenden with Ballinger and Little Hampden

Verse of the Week

" But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, 'Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.

( Matthew 14:27 )

Service times

20 August 10th Sunday after Trinity

St Peter & St Paul

8am - Holy Communion

10am - Parish Communion

6pm - Taize Prayer and Music

(Details of the Music)

St Mary's Ballinger

No service

Little Hampden

No service

The Organ
As built by James Jepson Binns of Leeds and installed in 1916, the organ has two manuals of 5 octave compass, and a radiating and concave pedal board of 30 notes.
There are 21 speaking stops, with some borrowing, and as originally built, was provided with a number of fixed of coupler drawstops and combination pistons.
In 2006 major restoration was carried out by David Wells Ltd. of Liverpool, with the financial help of the Friends of Great Missenden Parish Church - at that time, the decision was taken that the restoration should be without significant change to the mechanism, so the action remained as installed - the original fully tubular pneumatic Binns patent action, together with some mechanical elements, such as the combination pedals and drawstop mechanisms.

By late 2015/2016, it was clear that some major issues were becoming manifest in the operation of the action, with more than an octave and a half of the Swell organ in particular often unusable, because the notes were not sounding. Investigations revealed that other odd notes were also not working - in one case, a length of the lead tubing for that note was found reting on the top of the bellows, where it had perished and fractured, so fallen away from the rest of the length of tubing. Advice was sought from the Diocesan Organ Adviser and from suitable organ builders, and while it might have been possible to restore the original mechanism, it was felt that this would only defer further future significant expenditure because most similar instruments have been converted to electro-pneumatic action to avoid the same issues - accordingly, the number of builders speciallising in purely pneumatic actions is ever reducing as there are fewer such instruments, so the cost of such a specialist inevitably rises.

The other issue from a maintenance point of view is that the chamber is very cramped, as there is a lot of instrument in a fairly small space, and the pneumatic and mechanical elements took up a lot of this space, leading to the situation where some parts of the instrument were literally inaccessible without dismantling other major parts of the instrument. This also applied in particular to some of the most critical parts of the pneumatic action, where a great many tubes converged, and where any attempt to work on one would almost inevitably lead to disturbing another, leading to further potential problems.

The decision was thus taken, to convert to electro-pneumatic action, which removed a lot of the now more problematic parts of the original mechanism altogether, while retaining the final stage of the pneumatic action, so that when a note is pressed, the corresonding valve opens to let the air into the pipe(s) exactly as before, so there is no change at all to the speaking of the instrument - the conversion is a replacement only of the linkages by which pressing a note causes a pipe to sound.

The control system installed is from Solid State Organ Systems, one of the leading firms in this area, and provides a number of benefits for the player, including the provision of thumb pistons in the keyslips, and toe pistons in place of the original mechanical combination pedals. The exact effect of these is changeable by the player as required, as opposed to the fixed combinations originally provided as built, however, it is still perfectly possible to replicate those original fixed combinations if desired.

This major conversion was carried out by The Village Workshop of Finchingfield, Essex, and was made possible by many kind donations, and was again supported with the significant financial help of the Friends of Great Missenden Parish Church

 
 
The specification of the organ - the speaking stops remain as originally built
 
Swell Organ (Left Jamb)

Tremulant to Swell
Oboe 8
Cornopean 8
Mixture 3 Rank
Salicet 4
Viol D'Orchestre 8
Vox Angelica 8
Rohr Flute 8
Geigen Principal 8
Great Organ (Right Jamb)

Trumpet 8
Flautina 2
Principal 4
Dulciana 8
Gedact 8
No1 Diapason 8
No2 Diapason 8
Bourdon 16
 
Couplers (Left Jamb)

Swell to Great
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal
Pedal Organ (Right Jamb)

Bass Flute 8
Octave Bass 8
Sub Bass 16
Contra Bass 16
Harmonic Bass 32
 
Octave Couplers (placed centrally, above the Swell manual)

Swell to Great Sub-Octave
Swell to Great Octave
Swell Sub-Octave
Swell Octave
 
 
Fixed mechanical couplings as originally built:
Swell Combination Pedals
 
(R to L from left of the Swell Pedal)

  1. Rohr Flute 8
    Vox Angelica 8

  2. Rohr Flute 8
    Geigen Principal 8

  3. Rohr Flute 8
    Geigen Principal 8
    Viol D'Orchestre 8
    Salicet 4
    Oboe 8

  4. Rohr Flute 8
    Geigen Principal 8
    Viol D'Orchestre 8
    Salicet 4
    Mixture 3 Rank
    Cornopean 8
General Combination Pedals
Acting on Great and Pedal divisions
(L to R from Right of the Swell Pedal)

  1. G Gedact 8
    G Dulciana 8
    P Sub Bass 16

  2. G Gedact 8
    G Dulciana 8
    G No2 Open Diapason 8
    P Sub Bass 16
    P Bass Flute 8

  3. G No2 Open Diapason 8
    G No 1 Open Diapson 8
    G Principal 4
    P Sub Bass 16
    P Contra Bass 16
    P Bass Flute 8

  4. G No2 Open Diapason 8
    G No 1 Open Diapson 8
    G Principal 4
    G Flautina 2
    P Sub Bass 16
    P Contra Bass 16
    P Bass Flute 8
    P Octave Bass 8
 
Playing aids provided in the 2016 conversion:
Divisional pistons

  • 6 Thumb pistons for the Swell speaking stops, in the keyslip below the Swell manual
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  • 6 Thumb pistons for the Great speaking stops, in the keyslip below the Great manual
  •  
  • 6 Toe pistons for the Swell speaking stops, to the left of the Swell pedal
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  • 6 Toe pistons for the Pedal speaking stops, to the right of the Swell pedal
  •  
  • An additional drawstop has been provided at the bottom of the Swell jamb - 'Generals on Swell Toes', which when drawn, changes the functions of the toe pistons to the left of the Swell pedal from replicating the Swell divisional thumb pistons, to instead duplicating the first 6 General thumb pistons
  •  
  • An additional drawstop has been provided at the bottom of the Great jamb - 'Great and Pedal pistons', which when drawn, causes both the Great thumb pistons and the Pedal toe pistons (those to the right of the Swell pedal) to both operate the Great and the Pedal pistons together - ie pressing Great divisional thumb piston 3 has the effect of pressing Great piston 3 and Pedal piston 3 - pressing pedal toe piston 3 does the same thing.
    If this stop is not drawn, then the Great and the Pedal divisional pistons work independantly
  •  
  • A rotary switch to the left of the octave couplers, above the swell manual, allows up to 10 independant sets of divisional pistons to be set up - position 1 is the default setup and should not be changed without reference to the resident organist
General pistons

  • There are 8 General thumb pistons provided - 1-4 at the left end of the Swell keyslip, and 5-8 at the left end of the Great keyslip - these are freely settable, and capture the state of both the speaking stops and couplers across the instrument
  •  
  • There is also a stepper system provided, which works with the General pistons such that there are multiple levels of 8 General pistons - the first 8 appear on the thumb pistons as above as level '1', and the next 8 General pistons - level '2' pistons 1-8 (or 'steps 9-16') will then appear on the same General thumb pistons 1-8. The current level and piston number is indicated on a small numeric display to the right of the octave couplers - the 'level' is shown in green and the 'step' in red. Buttons on this display allow the user to select a level, eg you may have set your voluntary to start from level 10, and sequentially from there

  • To facilitate use of the stepper in performance, there are also '+' and '-' pistons provided, which allow a sequence of steps set in rehearsal, to be progressed through in order, by simply pressing '+' to advance to the next step as required. There is a '+' thumb piston provided at the right end of both Swell and Great keyslips, and a '+' toe piston immediately to the right of the Swell pedal - less frequently required, there is a '-' thumb piston at the right end of the Great keyslip (just to the left of the '+' piston), and a corresponding toe piston immediately to the left of the Swell pedal

  • Further reversible thumb and toe pistons are provided for departmental coupling - in the Swell keyslip, Swell to Pedal, and in the Great keyslip, Swell to Great and Great to Pedal - duplicated on toe pistons
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  • At the far left of the Great keyslip is the 'Set' setter piston - drawing the desired set of stops then pressing and holding 'Set' together with the relevant General or divisional piston will set that combination onto that piston
  •  
  • At the far right of the Great keyslip is the 'GC' General Cancel piston - this returns all drawstops to their 'off' position (and of course the actual stop mechanisms) - please use this before switching off the instrument!.
    NB, this does not affect the 'Great and Pedal pistons' or the 'Generals on Swell Toes' drawstops - these remain in their last set position
 
The original action was Binn's own patent tubular pneumatic, and the couplers, Swell pedal and combination pedals were all mechanical
As of 2016, the action is now electro-pneumatic, the stop mechanisms are directly operated by electrical solonoids - the Swell pedal remains the original mechanical action
 
Further information about the organ can be found from the British Institute of Organ Studies (BIOS) - the relevant page is their record No N09605