The Organ
The Alexandra Palace Organ Appeal
Registered Charity No.:285222, London N22 7AY
News - October 2019

Colin Walsh in Concert

Colin is Organist Laureate of Lincoln Cathedral where he presides over the famous “Father “ Willis organ. August 20th was a thrilling evening for those of us who had waited so long for the restoration of the reeds on the Solo organ. Colin played a spectacular programme designed to show off these magnificent stops. The attendance was not what we might have wished as many people were on holiday and the temperature was high.


Monday November 11th Pre-film Supper 5.00pm Film 7.00pm

We once more welcome our old friend Donald Mackenzie, organist of the Odeon Leicester Square who is a past master at mirroring on the organ the thrills and spills on screen. We have had many requests to show more steam rail scenes so the evening will start with a short sequence of rail clips including the last train from the Alexandra Palace. There will be short interval followed by the main feature, a 1928 film Speedy starring Harold Lloyd. This is a story of car chases with a horse-drawn street car that makes James Bond chases seem tame. The legendry baseball star Babe Ruth plays himself; the action is split between New York, Lost Angeles, and Coney Island. This film is a sure fire hit for all the family. A booking form is attached. Those attending the supper must book in advance.


Our Patron Ralph Allwood MBE has once more been generous enough to sponsor an Alexandra Palace Organ Scholar in memory of his father Bert Allwood who attended recitals at the Palace in the 1930’s and often talked about them to his children. This year we have appointed Daniel Floyd. Daniel spent ten years in the Army as a percussionist and is currently studying at the Royal College of Music. As part of the Scholarship Daniel will receive monthly lessons from a Royal College of Organists appointed tutor, in this case our Trustee Richard Brasier. We look forward to seeing and hearing Daniel at our concerts.


The Solo reeds were restored by means of a Maintenance payment of £3,500 from the Alexandra Palace and Parks Trust and of £10,000 from the Organ Appeal Trustees. This has proved to be a considerable drain on our resources. During 2020/21 we aim to similarly restore the Pedal 16 and 32’ stops if funding can be found. Beyond that the winding system of the organ which was installed as a temporary measure in 1982 needs replacing.

Humidification: Any pipe organ contains a large amount of leather and wood. In an environment such as the Great Hall with it’s glass roof and heating coming on and off the organ suffers desiccation, or drying out. There are currently two humidifiers on the organ gallery, one large and one small. Sadly during the past months both systems have failed and need to be replaced. The organ builders and the Palace Facilities Manager are both researching ways to replace these systems with something up to date and economical.


We are seeking help in two ways. We are in need of volunteers to assist in the setting up of screens projectors and other equipment before and after concerts. We are also in need of volunteers with experience of Social Media. We need to reach a far wider audience than we currently do, both in the local community and in the wider musical world. If you know of anyone who can assist in either of these areas please contact the Secretary.

Where there is a will, you can also help in our great work by remembering the Appeal is your will. Advice from HM Customs and Excise states that gifts left to a Charity: “*Can be taken off the value of your estate before Inheritance tax is calculated. *Will reduce your Inheritance Tax rate, if 10% or more of your estate is left to charity”.

A Historical Note:

When “Father” Henry Willis was commissioned in 1875 to build a new organ for the Great Hall at the Alexandra Palace, just days after the tragic fire that destroyed the first Palace and the organ he had built, he can little have thought that after two world wars, damage by vandals, damage by weather, and finally another fire that a substantial part of his creation would be still making glorious music and still be in the care of the company that he founded in 1845. Of the many organs he had build up to 1875, apart from the Alexandra Palace organ, two outstanding concert organs survive, the organ in St. George’s Hall Liverpool and the Royal Albert Hall organ. The Liverpool instrument is much as he left it, but the Albert Hall organ has had substantial alterations.

Henry Willis III said that the of the two London concert organs, his grandfather had always preferred the Alexandra Palace organ. This leaves us with a precious heritage to protect and guard for the future. We estimate that the final restoration of the organ will require something in the area of one and a quarter million pounds. Trustee Richard Brasier is taking the lead in planning a range of concerts over the next two years which will extend the scope of our music making by appealing to a wide range of ages and will show that the organ as a solo or ensemble instrument has a versatility that will ensure its survival for another 144 years.

Please remember to inform the Secretary of any change of address or contact details.