St.Lawrence Parish Church, San Lawrenz, Gozo

The St. Lawrence organ’s construction dates back to 1930 by the renowned Giudici & Laudani and its casework was completed by Giuseppe Limuli, both from Palermo, Sicily. Giudici & Laudani also built other organs, found in both Malta and Gozo.

 

This organ replaced another older organ that began its life at the Carmelite Church in Valletta. On the 6th December 1926 the upper structure and steeple of the St. Lawrence church were struck by lightning which damaged this instrument beyond repair, resulting in the commissioning of the present instrument.

 

Upon our initial inspection of the organ, the bellows’ leather was so far gone that the leaks rendered the organ almost unplayable with a blower so noisy little could be heard of what was playable. The wind-chests had deteriorated to such an extent that there was substantial wind loss. Many valve springs had broken, some valves had evidence of water damage, resulting in some notes ciphering. The valve sealing leathers had all deteriorated, as had the bar sealing strips, resulting in great wind loss as well. The pedal chest was in surprisingly good condition, besides a few pallets suffering water damage, and some pull-downs slightly corroded. Although the pipework was of a good standard, it had been badly affected by dust, resulting in speaking and tuning problems, some pipes had sustained some rodent damage at some point, and some were badly dented, bent or broken. The organ is cone tuned in the top octave ranges and tuned by scrolled leaded slots in the lower octaves, there was evidence of bad repairs and broken scrolls, along with many damaged pipe tops due to previous tuning methods without the correct tools. Several of the larger pipes were found to be badly supported, resulting in damage and danger of collapse. Some functions of the instrument did not function, due to missing or broken parts, or due to neglect of maintenance. This includes the tremulant, the swell expression, the manual to pedal coupler, some of the front case pipes and some of the functions of the accessory pedals. The casework and frame were found to be in good condition, besides a small amount of woodworm damage. However, much of the casework was nailed together, which had corroded over the years, resulting in difficulties in the disassembly process. Tuning access was also poor as the side panels were not removable, although evidence shows they may have once been.

 

We undertook a full historic restoration which necessitated the transportation of the entire organ to the workshop, including the casework so as to assemble it in full height to get a full restoration job in the works. This was an essential part of the process to carry out all the works needed for the restoration.

 

The action is mechanical throughout, with the exception of the front pipes tubed off on pneumatic action. The organ is a typical example of an Italian organ building with a main manual mechanical windchest called ‘A Vento’ which is explained as the following: up as far as the pallets and bars, it’s similar to what we are used to for a mechanical bar and slider wind-chest. Above the bars, however, there are no slides and upper boards. Instead, valves are placed on the side walls of the bars with holes drilled through the bar walls up to the pipe tip holes on the table above. The valves closing the holes for each note are pivoted via a wire out through the table alongside the tip holes of the pipes with a leather membrane to seal the wind. (See diagram in drawings). A trace rod the length of the soundboard picks up on all the wires attached to the 56 valves for each rank and when the stop is drawn, opens them all allowing wind to pass to the pipe if a pallet is opened. Like a Kegellade or Roosevelt chest tuning stability is assured but access for maintenance, should any of these valves pop out of place is (for those in the area beneath the pallet or bridge) impossible without major dismantling. The external area of the bars had individual strips of wood covering them, one for each bar, leathered and glued in place. As a slight variation we screwed them back in position, unglued, so there is a chance of access to the tiny springs and valves on some of the rear stops, at least should the need arise.

 

Access to the pipes was also a challenge. The Swell box was nailed together, so once dismantled this gave us the opportunity to hinge the sides when re-assembling. giving a slightly better chance of getting in to attend to a slipped stopper etc. from time to time, although the Bourdon, with no handles on the stoppers, will still require fine mountaineering skills like climbing over a tray of eggs to access!

 

The action and style of construction do not reflect the Italian building style of the 1930’s but are reminiscent of a time prior to this. We can say that it might be that the organ was a relocation of a used organ and housed in a new case. Another sign of this was also evident from the numbering and setup of the Voce Umana reed pipes as there were labelling differences for each pipe between the marking on the boot and on the block. The pipework scaling is somewhat not based on a specific scale, as the Principale 8’ is of small scale but on the other hand the other foundation stop the Flauto 8’ is of larger scale. This shows us that probably the pipes were not from one organ but came from different ones so the scaling design was not present here.

 

The double rise bellows and feeders were quite substantial and restored well so the hand blowing works beautifully with little effort.

 

The instrument as a whole has a delightful sound and a very interesting tonal structure with a bright 4 ranks Ripieno and colourful flutes, though the keen sounding Viola (tuned by the ears and bells) was a challenge to get on speech.

The organ restoration was 72.25% EU funded as part of the re-generation of the whole San Lawrenz village.

S p e c i f i c a t i o n

Manual

 

Principale 8’

Flauto 8’

Viola 8’

Unda maris 8’ (from C2)

Ottava 4’

Flauto a camino 4’

Decimaquinta 2’

Voce Corale 4' - C1-B2: Eolina (soft Prinicipale) C3-A5: reeds

Ripieno IV (activated by  pedal hook down lever)

 

Tremolo (Tremulant)

Pedal

Subbasso 16’

Violoncello 8’

Couplers & Accessories

Unione Pedale al Tasto (I to P)

Mezzoforte

Forte Generale

Ripieno Corale

Balanced Swell Pedal

Compass

Manual: CC - G 58 notes

Pedal: CCC - F 30 notes

Wind pressure 2 5/8'' 

Drawings

Photos

press to zoom
press to zoom
press to zoom

Before restoration

Dusty pipes (Voce Corale bass pipes)
Dusty pipes (Voce Corale bass pipes)
press to zoom
Dusty pipes on main windchest
Dusty pipes on main windchest
press to zoom
Damaged leather on bellows
Damaged leather on bellows
press to zoom
Ripieno pipes with damaged tops
Ripieno pipes with damaged tops
press to zoom
Woodworm damage to frame
Woodworm damage to frame
press to zoom
Stop action linkages
Stop action linkages
press to zoom
Pulldown seals consumed
Pulldown seals consumed
press to zoom
Pedal coupler action
Pedal coupler action
press to zoom
Pedal board
Pedal board
press to zoom
Old windtrunk on right side of case
Old windtrunk on right side of case
press to zoom
Key backfalls, rollerboard and trackers
Key backfalls, rollerboard and trackers
press to zoom
Old blower
Old blower
press to zoom
Inspection panels fixed with nails
Inspection panels fixed with nails
press to zoom
Inadequate tuning scroll repairs
Inadequate tuning scroll repairs
press to zoom
Expression pedal action
Expression pedal action
press to zoom
Console
Console
press to zoom
Display pipes
Display pipes
press to zoom
Damaged pneumatic action lead tubing
Damaged pneumatic action lead tubing
press to zoom
Detail of windchest valve, showing perished leather
Detail of windchest valve, showing perished leather
press to zoom
Tremulant
Tremulant
press to zoom

Dismantling

Display pipes and front case removed
Display pipes and front case removed
press to zoom
Removal of pipework from main windchest
Removal of pipework from main windchest
press to zoom
Preparing to remove swell front
Preparing to remove swell front
press to zoom
Main windchest with uncovered valve pallets chamber
Main windchest with uncovered valve pallets chamber
press to zoom
Side of case prepared for removal
Side of case prepared for removal
press to zoom
Lower casework, detailing old blower switch
Lower casework, detailing old blower switch
press to zoom
Stop action recoil springs
Stop action recoil springs
press to zoom
Roller boards prepared for transport
Roller boards prepared for transport
press to zoom
All pipes removed
All pipes removed
press to zoom
Organ parts, wrapped for transport
Organ parts, wrapped for transport
press to zoom
Action parts ready for transport
Action parts ready for transport
press to zoom
Front pipes carefully wrapped for transport
Front pipes carefully wrapped for transport
press to zoom
Label on wooden pipe (Flauto)
Label on wooden pipe (Flauto)
press to zoom
Bellows prepared for removal
Bellows prepared for removal
press to zoom
Organ removed from gallery
Organ removed from gallery
press to zoom
Organ fully removed
Organ fully removed
press to zoom

Restoration

Refurbished bellows and pumps outside view
Refurbished bellows and pumps outside view
press to zoom
Refurbished bellows, internal view, showing double gussets
Refurbished bellows, internal view, showing double gussets
press to zoom
Bellows added to frame
Bellows added to frame
press to zoom
Removal of windchest bar inspection panels
Removal of windchest bar inspection panels
press to zoom
Windchest repairing works
Windchest repairing works
press to zoom
Removing windchest old leather
Removing windchest old leather
press to zoom
Windchest with new leather valve seals
Windchest with new leather valve seals
press to zoom
Refurbished pallets on main windchest
Refurbished pallets on main windchest
press to zoom
Windchest stop action added and tested
Windchest stop action added and tested
press to zoom
Windchest valves in note channel
Windchest valves in note channel
press to zoom
Windchest bar inspection panels re-leathered and fitted with screws
Windchest bar inspection panels re-leathered and fitted with screws
press to zoom
Front chest undergoes restoration
Front chest undergoes restoration
press to zoom
Rackboards strengthened
Rackboards strengthened
press to zoom
Rodent damaged pipe, prepared for restoration
Rodent damaged pipe, prepared for restoration
press to zoom
Pipe repaired
Pipe repaired
press to zoom
New pipe top added to damaged pipe
New pipe top added to damaged pipe
press to zoom
Voce Corale pipe without the boot
Voce Corale pipe without the boot
press to zoom
Refurbished rollerboard
Refurbished rollerboard
press to zoom
Stop knobs refurbished and ready for fitting
Stop knobs refurbished and ready for fitting
press to zoom
Refurbished rollerboards installed
Refurbished rollerboards installed
press to zoom
Refurbished stop action
Refurbished stop action
press to zoom
Pedal jacks restored
Pedal jacks restored
press to zoom
Pedal action and composition pedals
Pedal action and composition pedals
press to zoom
Main windchest rollerboard with pull downs
Main windchest rollerboard with pull downs
press to zoom
Side panel repainted and doors fitted
Side panel repainted and doors fitted
press to zoom
Specially built pipe trays and storage of Subbasso pipes
Specially built pipe trays and storage of Subbasso pipes
press to zoom
New blower and blower cabinet
New blower and blower cabinet
press to zoom
Frame and side panels re-assembled
Frame and side panels re-assembled
press to zoom
Organ prepared to take windchests on
Organ prepared to take windchests on
press to zoom
Rear of pedal chest and Subbass pipes
Rear of pedal chest and Subbass pipes
press to zoom
New organ steps for console access
New organ steps for console access
press to zoom
Console during finishing works
Console during finishing works
press to zoom
Restored pedalboard
Restored pedalboard
press to zoom
Comparison of old and new bench part
Comparison of old and new bench part
press to zoom
Blower tunking and hand pump handle
Blower tunking and hand pump handle
press to zoom
Pedal chest installed with pipes
Pedal chest installed with pipes
press to zoom
Cleaned and refurbished pipes on main chest
Cleaned and refurbished pipes on main chest
press to zoom
Installation of pipework
Installation of pipework
press to zoom
Pipework access side door
Pipework access side door
press to zoom
Cleaned and polished case gilded part
Cleaned and polished case gilded part
press to zoom

Reassembling

Setting up of casework sides
Setting up of casework sides
press to zoom
Wrapped pipework sorted for installation
Wrapped pipework sorted for installation
press to zoom
Flauto 4' pipework
Flauto 4' pipework
press to zoom
Sorting of pipework
Sorting of pipework
press to zoom
Restored main winchest in place
Restored main winchest in place
press to zoom
Pedal action installed
Pedal action installed
press to zoom
Assembling of action
Assembling of action
press to zoom
Backfall action installation
Backfall action installation
press to zoom
Tracker action
Tracker action
press to zoom
Installation of pipework
Installation of pipework
press to zoom
Tuning in process
Tuning in process
press to zoom
All pipework installed
All pipework installed
press to zoom
Detail of Ripieno pipework
Detail of Ripieno pipework
press to zoom
Restored console
Restored console
press to zoom
Setting up the Swell expression shutters
Setting up the Swell expression shutters
press to zoom
Restored display pipes ready for installation
Restored display pipes ready for installation
press to zoom
Display pipes installed
Display pipes installed
press to zoom
Final installation of casework ornaments
Final installation of casework ornaments
press to zoom
Casework assembled
Casework assembled
press to zoom
Organ fully installed
Organ fully installed
press to zoom