organ

The History of the Organ at

Smyrna Baptist Chapel, Pen-y-fai

 

The organ at Smyrna Chapel was built in 1905 by Robert Rutt of Layton East, London, for Holy Trinity Church, Tylorstown in the Rhondda valley, and gave 74 years service until it was moved to Smyrna in January 1979 by Mr. David Spratt and Mr. Peter David, under the guidance of Mr. Compton Whitehorne who had been an Organ Builder in Bridgend for many years.

The organ cost £100 and was the gift of Mr. Jeffrey D. Lloyd of Aberdare, who had preached at Smyrna and conducted ‘Gymanfas’ over many years.

When it was moved the organ was very dirty, and as Tylorstown was a mining community the organ was full of coal dust. It was cleaned and some parts renewed.

The tenor octave of the Open Diapason was resited to the side of the organ because the ceiling of the chapel was too low to allow the pipes to stand above the console and dummy pipes replaced them.

The organ was dedicated in September 1979 by Reverend Alun J. Petty who was later to become Minister at Smyrna.

The Organ before Restoration

The original specification 1905 – 1980 was:
Great Organ  Swell Organ  Pedal Organ
Open Diapason 8’  Leblich Gedact 8’  Bourdon 16’

Clarabella 8’

Leblich Flute 8’ Swell to Great
Dulciana 8’  Vox Angelica 8’  Swell to Pedal
Principal 4’  Gamba 8’  Great to Pedal

In the 1980s the Gamba was removed from the Swell Organ and a Piccolo replaced it; this set of pipes came from the ‘Walklett’ organ at Dr. Cokes Memorial Methodist Chapel in Brecon and was voiced for Smyrna.

During this decade the Dulciana on the Great Organ was removed and a Fifteenth was fitted; these pipes came from the three manual organ at The Wesley Methodist Church at Tondu Road in Bridgend when the organ was scrapped. These alterations were carried out by Mr. David Spratt and Mr. Peter David who have tuned and looked after the organ since 1979.

In 2008 an infestation of woodworm was discovered in the pedal chests and swell box so it was decided to ask Mr. Derrick Carrington of Kington, Radnorshire, to look at the organ. Upon inspection it was discovered that the woodworm had done considerable damage to the sound chests of the Swell and Great as well as the two Pedal chests.

Mr. Carrington’s report informed the chapel that unless something was done fairly soon the organ would only last about another two years, so the Deacons and Members decided to have the organ rebuilt with a new electric action, detached console and extra ranks of pipes. The tenor octave of Open Diapason pipes have now been moved from the side and placed where the tracker action console once was.

The new specification of 2009 is as follows:

Great Organ  Swell Organ  Pedal Organ
Echo Gamba 16’  Violin Diapason 8’  Bourdon 16’
Open Diapason 8’  Stopd Diapason 8’  Principal 8’
Hohl Flute 8’  Salicional 8’  Bass Flute 8’
Octave 4’  Principal 4’  Super Octave 4’
Flauto Traverso 4’  Stopped Flute 4’  Quint 51/3
Nazard 2 2/3  Piccolo 2’  Couplers:
Fifteenth 2’  Sesqualtera ii  Swell to Great
Mixture ii  Sharp Mixture ii  Swell to Pedal
Tremulant  Great to Pedal

The New Organ 2010

Extra pipes have had to be added because the old console was only four and a half octaves. The new console is five octaves and the pedal ends at A instead of F.

The new organ console:

When Reverend Norman Amann of Abergavenny died he left his Wyvern electronic organ to the Baptist Union to be given to a Baptist chapel. After we approached the Union to ask if they knew of any organs that were redundant, this offer came. Visiting Rev. Amann’s widow she kindly agreed that the organ be given to Smyrna.

The Organ Console

 

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THE ORGANISTS OF SMYRNA

We are very privileged and proud to have as a member and deacon our very own organist, Mr Peter David. Peter was brought to Smyrna at an early age by his grandmother, Mrs Arianwen David, a life- long member of Smyrna. 

Peter tells us that he had one year of formal piano lessons as a seven year old, which he then rejected. Fortunately for the community and us he became a self taught pianist and organist much sought after by many churches and chapels in the area for weddings, funerals, gymanfas and concerts. At the age of sixteen he became very interested in playing the organ at Smyrna. At the time Mr James Dare was struggling to play the organ for the Sunday service and was only too pleased to hand the job over to this young man. He has gone on to serve Smyrna faithfully for the past thirty-four years. 

On September 5th, 1998, Peter was awarded an honorary Fellowship of the National College of Music for services to music, for which he has the right to feel very proud. 

At present we have a small choir at Smyrna, which until the end of the year 2004 was lead by Mrs Mary Brace a hard working member and friend to everyone at Smyrna.  Mary who was a former teacher at Tondu Primary school sadly passed away on February 28th 2005 after a courageous battle against her illness. She is missed by everyone at Smyrna but most of all by the choir who loved her and the fellowship we shared at choir practice with her and Peter. 

Peter and the choir promised Mary that we would keep the choir going and we will do so in her memory, but for Peter and the choir members it will never be quite the same. 

Previous organists were Mrs Vi Lloyd, as mentioned in the Bi-Centenary report. Then came Mr Rees Thomas who also formed a choir from the congregation at the time. This was around 1930 - 1940. 

His niece, Mrs Gwen Thomas who played from the 1950's - 1960's, took his place. The years between the 60's and the start of Peters post were filled, when available, by Miss Audrey Draper and her mother, Mrs Beatrice Draper, followed by Mr James Dare. These organists played on the old pump or pedal organ, the last one being presented to the chapel by the late Mr & Mrs Llewellyn of Ogmore Vale, in memory of their son, who was killed in the Second World War. 

Mr Llewellyn was a brother of Mrs Gladys Thomas, who was a deaconess at Smyrna for many years, until her death in 1976. That organ was replaced by the existing pipe organ in 1976.

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Updated  02 June 2016
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