Brief History of the Armley Schulze Organ

      

                         Written with much reference to The Armley Schulze Organ  by Kenneth I. Johnstone  no longer available

       
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Edmund, and later his brother Eduard, Schulze will have become pretty familiar with Yorkshire in their time. They must also have regretted not fitting their organs with castors, considering the way their famous instrument which finished up at St.Bartholomew's, Armley, has moved around during its lifetime.   A note of freight charges, dated 28th September, 1868 , and advice of despatch via the North Eastern Railway Company from Hull Docks, was sent to Mr. T. S. Kennedyat Wellington Foundry, Leeds, byMessrs. Gee & Co., Forwarding Agents for Goods to and from Hamburg.   Seventy-six packages, totalling 824 feet in length @ 2d +10%, attracted charges of £7.11.1d, plus Charges paid per Bill of Lading (£16.18s.9d) and extras, including Dock Charges for Off-loading, etc., Cartage and Commission, of £2.5s.0d.The consignment, only one of several, was described as 'Parts for an Organ' - an Organ that was to become famous throughout the musical world.

 

 

 

 

Thomas Stuart Kennedy had his house at Meanwood, then on the outskirts of Leeds, designed and built in 1866, in an ostentatious style, which we might today describe as impressive, but outstandingly ugly. It exists to this day, minus its extraordinary tall chimney stacks, as Meanwood Towers . Some 40 yards from the front door he added an 'organ house', sometimes described as a 'summer house' in which he had Edmund Schulze install the Organ he had commissioned from the Schulze family firm based in Paulinzelle (now Paulinzella), Germany.  Perhaps it is worthwhile pausing to put together a picture of a person able, at the age of 25, to have an extravagant mansion built for himself, together with a large organ house.
 

 

 
Thomas Kennedy was born in Lancashire , the son of a businessman based in Zurich . His early education took place abroad, before completion in Cumberland and Dumfriesshire. He was then taken on by a cousin as a partner in his engineering foundry, later to become Fairburn Lawson Ltd. near Armley in Leeds . In 1865 he was married to Clara Thornton in Canterbury Cathedral, no less. He was well known as a mountaineer, and spent much time climbing in such areas as the Matterhorn and was a member of the first successful ascent of Switzerland 's Dent Blanche. (Back home he became a highly respected Justice of the Peace.)
   
  The Kennedys later moved to Wetherby, where they lived out the latter part of their lives. They are buried in Hallfield Cemetry, on the east side of town, near the A1 diversion. To visit their grave, enter Wetherby from the A58/A1 roundabout along Walton Road . Take the second right ( First Avenue ), left into Third Avenue , and immediately right into Hallfield Lane . The grave is to be found by going straight through the main gate, between the buildings, and by taking the first path off to the left.)

 

 

 

  It was Prince Albert who arranged for the firm of J. F. Schulze & Sons to provide an organ for the Great Industrial Exhibition of 1851 in the Crystal Palace , and Schulze organs, like anything receiving the V. & A. touch, became the fashion in Britain .There would therefore be no need for anyone of Thomas Kennedy's status to look any further when he decided to commission an instrument for his wife. By this time, the eldest of the six Schulze brothers, Edmund, had taken over the firm following the death of their father, and he travelled to Leeds to superintend the erection and finishing of the new Organ at Meanwood.
    Sadly, a few years after the Organ's installation, Mrs. Kennedy became chronically ill, and could no longer use the instrument; it was therefore put up for sale. Two sisters, the Misses Carter of Harrogate, stepped in and purchased the Organ, loaning it to their church of St.Peter's, where Edmund Schulze again supervised the installation. The reason for this loan arrangement is unknown, but the apparently disagreeable nature of the Vicar may well hint at an answer. Before very long he approached the ladies with an ultimatum to either present the Organ outright, or remove it - a most original way indeed of saying "Thank you"! They responded by having it taken out, which must have taught at least one Victorian cleric a thing or two about girl power. The ladies obviously had no quarrel with the Church of St. Peter itself, for the Carter family commissioned a smaller replacement from the ubiquitous Edmund, which turned out to be the last organ he was to build. It was admitted afterwards that the first Schulze instrument had not sounded well where it was, the church being two small for its power. St. Peter's may not be of the gargantuan proportions of St. Bartholomew's, but it can hardly be described as 'small', which again makes one wonder at the size of Mr. Kennedy's garden shed.Back on the market, the Organ was snapped up by Henry William Eyres, of the Armley family of textile giants - one of several wealthy benefactors of the new church of St. Bartholomew 's, which had replaced the old 17th Century Armley Chapel.  Eyres presented the Organ to the Church, shipping the existing smaller instrument up to the neighbouring Christ Church, (and to think that organ transplantation is believed to be a thing of the 20th Century!
     

 

    Due to the early death of the travel weary Edmund, his younger brother Eduard Schulze looked over the latest installation. This was a great success, the vast size of its new home making the Organ ripe for augmentation, particularly in the introduction of 32-foot components. Once more the work went to the Schulze workshops in Paulinzelle.

 

    Just as the famous bell known as Big Ben is visualised as a four-faced clock tower, the casual observer will take away an image of the Armley Schulze as being a few pipes (from the new Pedal Open Metal 16') set in an imposing ornate case. This unwittingly ignores the five organs within, and the remaining 3,600 pipes that are hidden behind the screen. Certainly the case is magnificent, especially in comparison with the apparent chaos of the Organ's innards. There is the slightest of doubts concerning the identity of the case's designers, generally credited to be Messrs. Walker and Athron, the architects of the Church itself. In common with much of the adjacent woodwork, it is made up in American walnut, and blends perfectly with the lines of the building.

Original Sections of the Choir & Echo Organs

 

    Carved panels depict ornithologically dubious singing birds amongst branches of prolific oaks, these intricate carvings being carried down to hidden cupboards towards the rear of the supporting vaulted stone gallery of arches. These panels are echoed right at the top of the case, out of sight without the aid of scaffolding.  Recent investigations have led us to the conclusion that these designs are the work of William Morris, though we have no actual proof.  The two panels mentioned are very much in his style, and he registered almost identical designs two years before the case was installed and one year after. Morris’s great collaborator, Burne-Jones, was part of theGilbert Scott group.  Scott, the architect of the Albert Memorial, was an admirer of the church, and Athron, the architect and joint designer of the case, was his pupil.  It is difficult to dismiss some collaboration, if only through a London gentlemen’s club, sketching on an envelope!
     
    Large projecting angels with small harps mimic colleagues adorning the roof timbers in the Church's transepts and along the line of the nave. All is topped off with three standing angels, the central trumpeter rising to a height of sixty feet from the chancel floor.  Initially, the local Armley water pressure proved unequal to the task of powering the Organ's hydraulic motor and a gas engine was installed. Though effective, the exhaust from this contraption was noted to cause considerable deterioration to the more vulnerable parts of the instrument, such as the leather bellows. History records this in detail, and only mentions in passing that a number of the congregation could regularly be relied upon to demonstrate immediate deterioration by passing out during services because of the fumes! Improvements in the town water supply in 1873 allowed a return of the hydraulic motor system, along with the redundancy of the Organist, Tom Cawthra's, young son who had spent many Sunday hours in the engine room with a lit taper in case the gas went out. In 1911, the wonder of electricity led to an electric powered motor that performed well until 1956, when it expired with a strong smell of burning. Its replacement is still working to this day, looking alarmingly lonesome in the large purpose-built pump room. Cleaning programmes in 1899 and 1900 were used as an excuse for the only serious bit of alteration to the original Schulze specification, replacing a full rank of pipes (the Swell Rohrflõte 8ft.) with a Celeste rank (but without changing it's stop label!). In 1905 a major overhaul saw the increasingly erratic pneumatic lever action replaced by tubular pneumatics, allowing a quieter operation altogether.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    Section of detailed plans - the Swell Organ

  Post-war euphoria around 1948 led to a proposal that included a complete cleaning and conversion to electro-pneumatic action, along with a desire to move to a remote console amidst the south side of the choir. Times had now changed, sufficiently for the £2000 quote to be well outside the reach of the local community. The original appeal dragged on until 1956 when a complete overhaul was possible. This attracted plenty of expert advice regarding 'improving' on Schulze, all of which was happily ignored thanks to the selective deafness of the clerk of works and then organist, John Watkins. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Every time major works have been completed over the years, a grand re-opening has been necessary, and the 10th of March, 1956 was no exception. Francis Jackson officiated, and the recital was broadcast live, which was a pity, since what came out was not quite what Dr. Jackson put in, due to a sound technician, who, moments before the programme started, dislodged a large plank above the Organ, which dropped squarely across many ranks of the Great.  Several pipes needed replacement and many more were dislodged leading to most un-musical noises during the broadcast. Further tragedy occurred in 1964 when the church was internally steam cleaned - a popular pursuit of the time, and in this case greatly effective. However, experts knew better than John Watkins, and the Organ was only partly protected. Most timber components suffered badly as a result, with drawstop rods swelling and jamming, and soundboards twisting out of shape. Apart from this, the resulting savage humidity did no favours to the leatherwork of the bellows. A great deal of metal corrosion followed, along with damage to the ivories. It was mainly due to the Organist and the diligence of Tom Jackson, the organ's maintenance contractor, that emergency restoration over several months was successful

An open-ended appeal for the reconstruction and overhaul of the Organ was launched in 1974, and which, thanks to an enormous legacy allowed the 2002/4 major restoration to take place. Over the last 40 years, annual concert series' have been well attended, and various recordings have brought the instrument to a world-wide audience. The question arises as to the importance of the Armley Schulze Organ.  First and foremost is its position in historical heritage, being aunique example of the unspoilt work of the Schulze family in Britain .  Beyond that, there are many practical values that set it apart. Quoting from Kenneth I.Johnstone's book, 'The Armley Schulze Organ', the instrument "is renowned for its wonderful clarity and purity of tone which allows the stops to be blended in seemingly endless combinations of great beauty, from the gentle tones of the Echo Organ to the brilliance and power of the Great. Schulze achieved this cohesion through his genius as a voicer and finisher... To this must be added first the favourable position of the Organ on its noble gallery in the shallow but lofty North Transept, where every pipe has adequate speaking room... Secondly the magnificent acoustics of the crossing of the lofty nave, with a reverberation period of over three seconds in the empty church, which greatly enhances the effect of the instrument"

 

                Specification:

  Comprehensive and finely detailed listings of  the Organ's specifications throughout its life are detailed in "The Armley Schulze Organ"  by Kenneth Johnstone, at the moment out of print.    Below are the current (2004) details, with reference to those at Meanwood.
       
 

Echo Organ

Choir Organ

 
 

 

 

  ft        

1.

Tibia Major

16

.

Vox Angelica

  8 

3.

Echo Oboe

  8

4.

Zart Flõte

  8

5.

Dolcan

  8

6.

Still Gedact

  8

7.

Dolcissimo

  4

8.

Echo Flõte

  4

9.

Nasard

 2.67

10.

Flautino

  2

11.

Tremulant to Echo*

 

 

 

  ft.    

1.

Lieblich Bordun

16

2.

Minor Principal

  8

3.

Cello und Violine

  8

4.

Harmonica

  8

5.

Orchester Flõte

  8

6.

Lieblich Gedact

  8

7.

Lieblich Flõte

  4

8.

Octave

  4

9.

Piccolo

  4

10.

Cornette 2-5 fachs

  -

11.

Clarinette

  8

12.

Tremulant to Choir*

 

 
 

Great Organ

 Swell Organ

 
 

 

 

  ft.         

1.

Sub Principal

16

2.

Bordun

16

3.

Major Principal

  8

.

Gemshorn

  8

5.

Hohl Flõte

  8

6.

Gedact

  8

7.

Hohl Flõte

  4

8.

Octave

  4

9.

Rausch Quinte 2 fachs

  4

10.

Mixtur 5 fachs

 -

11.

Tuba

16

12.

Trompette

  8

 

 

  ft.

1.

Bordun

16

2.

Geigen Principal

  8

3.

Gamba

  8

4.

Salicional

  8

5.

Rohr Flõte (Celeste)

  8

6.

Flauto Traverso

  8

7.

Octave

  4

8.

Flauto Traverso

  4

9.

Cymbel 4 fachs

  -

10.

Horn

  8

11.

Oboe

  8

12.

Clarine

  4

13.

Tremulant to Swell*

 

 
 

Pedal Organ

Couplers

 
 

 

 

  ft.        

1.

Sub Bass*

32

2.

Open Metal*

16

3.

Principal Bass Wood

16

4.

Violon

16

5.

Sub Bass

16

6.

Quinte

10.67

7.

Octave

  8

8.

Violoncello

  8

9.

Flotën Bass

  8

10.

Octave

  4

11.

Posaune

16

12.

Trompete

  8

Armley

1.

Echo to Swell

2.

Echo to Choir

3.

Swell to Choir

4.

Choir to Great

5.

Swell to Great

6.

Echo to Pedal

7.

Swell to Pedal

8.

Great to Pedal

9.

Choir to Pedal

10.

Great and Pedal pistons coupled

Meanwood

1.

Great to Swell or Choir to Great

2.

Choir to Swell

3.

Swell to Great

4.

Swell to Pedal

5.

Great to Pedal

6.

Choir to Pedal

 
       
     
   *Added at Armley.  
     
  The Swell Rohr Flöte was replaced with a Cèleste, probably by Abbott & Smith around 1900, but the drawstop still carries the Schulze wording.  
     
  COUPLERS        
           
  Choir to Pedal  Echo to Pedal Choir to Great Swell to Pedal Swell to Choir
           
  Swell to Great Great to Pedal  Echo to Choir Echo to Swell  
   
  ACCESSORIES (2003)
   
  Six general pistons and general cancel
   
  Six foot pistons to the Pedal Organ
   
  Four pistons each to the Choir and Echo Organs
   
  Six pistons each to the Great and Swell Organs
   
  Six foot pistons duplicating Swell pistons
   
  Reversible pistons: Great to Pedal, Swell to Pedal, Swell to Great
   
  Reversible foot pistons: Great to Pedal, Swell to Pedal
   
  Sequencer, operating general pistons
   
  Piston couplers:
     
    Great and Pedal pistons; Generals on Pedal foot pistons
     
    Generals on Swell foot pistons; Sequencer on divisional pistons
   
  Eight divisional and 128 general piston memories
   
  Balanced expression pedal to the Swell Organ
   
   
    Sequence of Events  
 

1851

J. F. Schulze & Sons invited to provide an organ for the Great Industrial Exhibition - Schulzemania takes off in Britain .

 
 

1858

Death of J. F Schulze - Edmund, the eldest son, takes over.

 
 

1866

T .S. Kennedy commissions designs for Meanwood Towers . While touring in Switzerland , Kennedy detours to visit the famous Schulze workshops in Paulinzelle, from where he eventually commissions a small house organ for his new home.

 
 

1867

Proposals for the organ grow in size, necessitating the building of a separate organ house.

 
 

1869

7th May, Completion of organ house.

 
 

 

20th July, Last load of organ parts despatched. Edmund Schulze takes up residence at Meanwood.

 
 

 

Organ opened with a private recital by S. S. Wesley.

 
 

1877

16th August, Organ inaugurated in St. Peter's, Harrogate , after Kennedy was obliged to sell due to his wife's poor health.

 
 

 

24th August, Consecration of the new church of St. Bartholomew ’s, Armley.

 
 

1878

Death of Edmund Schulze.

 
 

1879

Organ removed from St. Peter's following dispute with the vicar. Smaller replacement is ordered from J. F. Schulze & Sons, and opened on 28th June.

 
 

 

Organ enlarged by Eduard Schulze and installed in St. Bartholomew's, Armley, presented by H. W. Eyres, and inaugurated on 23rd August.

 
Organ Concerts  

1880

Death of Eduard Schulze.

 
Church History

1879

Firm of J.F. Schulze wound up.

 
Schulze Organ Travels

1905

Major rebuild by James Jepson Binns.

 
Restoration, 00-04

1956

Renovation programme instituted.

 
The Schulze Family

1974

Restoration appeal launched.

 
Bibliography

1990

Gala Concert  

 
Sales 1991 Bequest received from Luker Trust of £400,000  
Donation B.Order

2004

Complete restoration and re-ordering.

 
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