Project updates

For more photos and updates, see the King's College Choir Facebook page and Twitter feed.

October 2016

4 October: International recitalist Nathan Laube performs a stunning opening recital in celebration of the restored organ. You can listen to his recital on our webcasts page until 4 November 2016, or watch one of his pieces on YouTube.

September 2016

12 September: Voicing is now complete, and the organ goes into its commissioning phase. The console has also been restored, with ivory key covers retained or recovered from elsewhere.

The console after refurbishment

See a before and after comparison of the console.

August 2016

25 August: Harrison & Harrison Head Voicer Andrew Scott introduces the temporary one-manual remote console used for voicing the organ.

Organ Restoration: The Remote Keyboard


July 2016

29 July: An introduction to voicing the organ – and what it sounds like before it's tuned!

Organ Restoration: An Introduction to Voicing


22 July: With work to the organ case now complete, and the newly-gilded front pipes in position, the scaffolding is being carefully dismantled. Work now begins on 'voicing': making sure each pipe works and sounds exactly as it should.

The east elevation of the organ.

The organ emerging from behind the scaffolding, as seen from the choir stalls. Larger image

12 July: Pipes now in position in the main case up above the organ screen. Each pipe has been cleaned and repaired and now sits on new and improved soundboards. These pipes belong to the Great division, and include the famous tuba (far right of the image).

Pipes in the main case.

Restored pipes back at home in the Chapel. Larger image

5 July: A particularly exciting moment when the refurbished console begins to be replaced in the organ loft. Within the next few weeks it will be completed and connected to the instrument, allowing work to begin on the sound of each pipe in position.

The console during reconstruction.

The first of four manuals sits in position. The ivory keys have been refurbished. Larger image

June 2016

25 June: Most of the soundboards are now in place: these are where the pipes sit, with a hole carefully drilled for each of the thousands of pipes in the organ. At the top of the image you can see the back of some of the gilded front pipes now in position.

Sound boards in the main case.

Soundboards in the main case, looking towards the choir stalls and altar. Larger image

8 June: Now that the front 'façade' pipes have been repaired in the workshop, they're back in the Chapel and this week are being gilded. They are stripped of their old, dirty and damaged gold leaf and coated in a yellow primer and a coat of adhesive. Individual strips of gold leaf are applied to the pipes before being smoothed down and, finally, polished. In a few weeks' time, they'll be carefully and individually moved into place up in the organ case.

Gilding the pipes.

Gilding the pipes in the Ante-chapel. Larger image

May 2016

27 May: There's only so much that can be done in the Durham workshop: some work has to wait until the instrument is on site, where some of the final adjustments are then made in a pop-up workshop by the organ screen in the Ante-chapel.

An organ builder saws.

An organ builder working in the Chapel workshop. Larger image

23 May: Some of the largest pipes are returned to their positions inside the south side of the organ screen (known as 'the pit'). Once they are in, some of the internal structure will be built around them, and they will be permanently locked in position.

Organ builders lift a pipe into the south screen.

Organ builders lift a pipe into the south screen. Larger image

12 May: With some of the largest pipes returning from the workshop, along with much of the internal structure and wind system, it all needs to be stored somewhere while it's all re-assembled by hand inside the organ case. The west end of the Ante-chapel is currently serving as an open-plan storage space!

Parts of the organ in the Ante-chapel.

Parts of the organ waiting to be reassembled. Larger image

6 May: Go behind the scenes in the Harrison & Harrison workshop with this new audio slideshow:

Behind the scenes: Organ workshop


3 May: Right on schedule, the first return lorry has arrived at King's, marking the start of the reinstallation of the restored organ. Over the next few months the internal structure and wind system will be rebuilt, with around 4,500 cleaned and repaired pipes put back in their places one by one.

Lorry outside King's.

The first lorry to return to King's from the workshop. Larger image

April 2016

28 April: Cleaning and repair work to the organ case has been completed this week, just days before the first pipes return from the organ builders' workshop. Next week the long process of reassembling the organ will begin.

The image below shows one of the angels, which are over seven feet tall, before cleaning. Select the link to see it after cleaning.

An angel before cleaning

View before and after cleaning of an angel on top of the organ case. (Hugh Harrison)

15 April: While the pipes are in the workshop, the organ case is being cleaned and repaired in the Chapel. The painstaking work is scheduled to take nearly eight weeks in total.

Experts clean the organ case, which is hundreds of years old.

Experts clean the organ case, which is hundreds of years old. (Hugh Harrison) Larger image

2 April: With the project back on track again, you can now listen to a short talk by the Harrison & Harrison Production Director, Duncan Matthews, which is the introduction to this month's organ recital webcast by Ian Hare. Listen on our webcasts page.

1 April: We've encountered a small set-back that might affect the project timeline. See the news story.

March 2016

9 March: Visitors to the Chapel will have noticed a tall 'cherry-picker' making its way around the inside of the windows and walls. This is for cleaning parts of the Chapel that are usually inaccessible and is one of a number of projects related to the organ restoration. This will ensure that the organ pipes, which are currently being cleaned and repaired, return to a clean chapel in June.

Before and after cleaning dust from a pillar.

Before and after dust is removed from a ledge about 15 metres from ground level. Larger image

1 March: You can now listen to the last recital performed on the pre-restoration organ on our webcasts page, with Organ Scholars Tom Etheridge and Richard Gowers playing duets of music by Leighton, Rachmaninoff and Holst. You can also find this month's Organ Restoration Webcast (see programme) by David Goode as part of our regular webcasts.

February 2016

26 Feb: The first chance in decades to get up close with the centuries-old organ case, both inside and out. Work over the next couple of weeks will include surveying and cleaning: removing years of dust with nothing more than a hoover and a dry paintbrush! Don't forget that you can see many more photos over on the Choir's Facebook page, even if you're not on Facebook.

Removing dust from the case.

Specialist restorers begin work cleaning the main case. Larger image

19 Feb: The main case and south screen are now completely empty of pipes, soundboards, wind system, and most electrical work. In the next couple of weeks additional scaffolding will be put in place to enable surveying and cleaning of the centuries-old woodwork.

Inside the empty main case.

Inside the empty main case, looking towards the Antechapel. Larger image

5 Feb: Watch our Senior Organ Scholar, Tom Etheridge, talk to Cambridge TV News in this video feature on the restoration project: Cambridge TV News

3 Feb: With all pipes now removed from the main case, work begins on the dismantling of the soundboards and wind system, some of which will be cleaned and repaired, and some of which will be replaced.

Organ builders working in the main case

Organ builders working in the main case, which is now empty of pipes. Larger image

January 2016

30 Jan: Many of the pipes have been removed, including the gold façade pipes. A piano and two smaller organs now accompany the Choir, and you can listen to the last service with the main organ, which took place on 17 January, on our webcasts page (until March).

Organ builders carefully pack away some of the front pipes

Organ builders carefully pack away some of the front pipes. Larger image

The manuals (keyboards), pipes and other parts of the organ will be returned to the workshop for cleaning and repair before being reinstalled back in the Chapel later in the year.

The keys removed from the organ

The keys sitting in the Antechapel before going off for restoration. Larger image

18 Jan: The erection of scaffolding begins on the east side of the screen. By 25 January the scaffolding on both sides of the screen will be complete, allowing builders from Harrison & Harrison to begin the removal of pipes from the organ.

Scaffolding on the east side of the screen

Looking westwards from the choir stalls towards the organ. Larger image

December 2015

With the organ in use throughout Christmas, and a project deadline of September 2016, engineers in the workshop at Harrisons & Harrisons have been hard at work for a number of months. 

The organ framework in the workshop

The organ framework being constructed in the workshop, which will eventually sit inside the screen in the Chapel. Larger image

Most of the internal components of the organ are being replaced, ensuring the instrument's reliability for the next generation. Much of it is hand-built by craftsmen from a mix of trades, including woodwork, metalwork and electrical work.

Pedal action

A craftsman works on the Pedal action and soundboard, which connects the organist's feet with some of the largest pipes. Larger image

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