The Organ
The Alexandra Palace Organ Appeal
Registered Charity No.:285222, London N22 7AY
"The finest concert organ in Europe" - Marcel Dupre, 1929

The 1929 Instrument

"... all the old majesty was there, as overwhelming as ever, and with additional beauties provided by modern advances in tonal colour and control. " - G. D. Cunningham

"A veritable masterpiece of all modern organ craftsmanship. " - Andre Marchal

"The Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs and the distinguished guests who supported them, left the Alexandra Palace visibly impressed by their unique musical experience. More glorious than ever before, one of the great organs of the world had been re-born." - Ivan Barwell

" As restored, there is no doubt that the instrument is a marvel of flexibility, completeness of control, and magnificence of tone [...] with all the resources of the splendid instrument drawn on, is a thing only to be believed when it is heard, the whole a wonderful musical experience." Kaikoshru Sorabji

"The restoration of this masterpiece of my grandfather's has been to all concerned a labour of love from start to finish. "- Henry Willis III
The external appearance of the instrument was only slightly changed; with the newly enclosed expression box for the Solo Organ now visible above the front pipes on the left. Frontal view after the rebuild
Here is a general view of the front of the hall at the Great Handel Festival Concert. Handel Festival
Here is a spectacular view of the front of the Great Soundboard in the foreground of one of the 32ft towers. This over-length display rank, comprising some of the largest organ pipes ever made, was tragically vapourized in the 1980 fire. Great Soundboard/32ft Front
The 1929 Willis III console. This is in every respect the standard Willis III console, with the tilting-tablet couplers (multiple pitches, naturally) and the swell pedal selector panel. The current console largely comprises the components visible here, but some of the surrounding wordwork is new. 1929 Console
A good illustration of the scale of the facade of the instrument and the 32ft front. The men visible are workers from the Willis factory. Workers on the Great
Looking hall-ward over the Great passage-boards to the distant hall with the clock and rose window beyond. In the current organ, this view is almost as spectacular but the Hall has changed significantly in appearance due to the post-fire rebuild. Great Passage boards
Along with the heavy-pressure pedal reeds at 32' and 16', the four Tubas shown here were, and remain, the loudest stops in the instrument. Available from the Solo manual, and speaking on 30" of wind pressure they fill the Hall with an impressive sound. Solo Tubas
This photograph, of the side of the instrument, taken by Henry Willis III on 7th June 1926, is the only example which shows the layout of the 32 Pedal Sub Bass, a stop also lost in the 1980 fire. 32ft Subbass
Behind the console, three Willis men work on connecting the new mechanism. Willis workers connect the new console
The Rotunda caption reads "Looking through the organ from within the new Choir swell-box : the treble side of the Choir Organ only is shown in the picture. This department contains what are probably the most effective Mutations in any modern organ, specimens that would have rejoiced the heart of Dom Bedos without doubt." Choir Organ
The Rotunda caption reads "A striking view of the Swell Organ showing how the soundboards are disposed on different levels, etc. The tops of the Tuba basses are visible in the foreground." Swell Organ
The Rotunda caption reads "This illustration shows how the tubes of the lowest 7 notes of the Pedal Contra Bombarde have been made full length, and also indicates the fact that the organ front itself is composed of speaking pipes and not dummies." 32' Bombarde
Deep in the basement, the organ's blowing plant provided large volumes of wind at two different pressures and, via a small attached generator, direct current for the organ's action. Blowing plant
Willis III Henry Willis III, the grandson of the original builder and the leader of the Willis Firm at the time of the 1929 rebuild. Some of his staff who were involved in the work are depicted below.
Mr Verne Mr Daykin Mr Sinclair Mr Allen Mr Deeks
Mr Jones Mr North Mr Jackson Mr Hulbert Mr Rashbrook


The Specification

Pedal Organ
23 stops
 
78. Double Open Bass (from 82) 32
79. Double Open Diapason 32
80. Sub Bass (from 84) 32
81. Open Bass No. 1 16
82. Open Bass No. 2 16
83. Contra Basso 16
84. Bourdon 16
85. Bass Viola 16
86. Octave 8
87. Principal (1) 8
88. Viola (from 85) 8
89. Flute 8
90. Super Octave (1) 4
91. Octave Viola (from 88) 4
92. Octave Flute (from 89) 4
93. Sesquialtera III
94. Mixture (2) III
95. Bombarde (1) 32
96. Trombone (1) 16
97. Ophecleide (2) 16
98. Clarion (2) 8
99. Octaves on Pedal Chorus (1)
100. Octaves on Pedal Chorus (2)
Choir Organ
17 stops, enclosed
 
44. Contra Viola 16
45. Viola da Gamba 8
46. Viola Celestes (Tenor C)     8
47. Claribel Flute 8
48. Lieblich Gedact 8
49. Dulciana 8
50. Gemshorn 4
51. Viola 4
52. Nason Flute 4
53. Nazard 2 2/3
54. Piccolo 2
55. Tierce 1 3/5
56. Mixture III
57. Corno-di-Basetto 8
58. Cor Anglais 8
59. Trumpet 8
60. Clarion 4
Tremulant
Great Organ
21 stops
 
1. Double Open Diapason     16
2. Bourdon 16
3. Open Diapason No. 1 8
4. Open Diapason No. 2 8
5. Open Diapason No. 3 8
6. Clarabella 8
7. Quint 5 1/3
8. Octave No. 1 4
9. Octave No. 2 4
10. Flute Couverte 4
11. Octave Quint 2 2/3
12. Super Octave 2
13. Seventeenth 1 3/5
14. Furniture II
15. Sesquialtera III
16. Mixture III
17. Double Trumpet 16
18. Trumpet-harmonic 8
19. Trumpet 8
20. Posaune 8
21. Clarion 4
Swell Organ
22 stops, enclosed.
 
22. Double Open Diapason 16
23. Lieblich Bourdon 16
24. Open Diapason No. 1 8
25. Open Diapason No. 2 8
26. Flute Couverte 8
27. Rohr Flute 8
28. Salicional 8
29. Vox Angelica (Tenor C)    8
30. Principal 4
31. Flauto Traverso 4
32. Twelfth 2 2/3
33. Fifteenth 2
34. Furniture II
35. Sesquialtera III
36. Mixture III
37. Waldhorn 16
38. Cornopean 8
39. Hautboy 8
40. Vox Humana 8
41. Clarion 4
42. Contra Posaune 16
43. Trumpet 8
Tremulant
Solo Organ
17 stops, enc. apart from 74-77
 
61. Violoncello 8
62. Tibia 8
63. Viole d'Orchestre 8
64. Violes Celestes (BB) 8
65. Flute-harmonique 8
66. Octave 'Cello 4
67. Concert Flute 4
68. Solo Nazard 2 2/3
69. Piccolo-harmonique 2
70. Basoon 8
71. Orchestral Oboe 8
72. Orchestral Clarinet 8
73. Tubular Bells - 20 notes    
Tremulant
74. Contra Tromba 16
75. Tromba-harmonic 8
76. Tuba-harmonic 8
77. Clarion-harmonic 4
Standard array of Willis III inter and intra-manual couplers at 16', 8' and 4' pitches, controlled via 'Tilting Tablets' above Solo Manual.
Willis III 'Toggle Touch' manuals.
Usual variety of playing aids including 8 thumb/foot pistons to each division, 8 thumb/foot general pistons.
Balanced expression pedals to Choir, Swell and Solo