An organ was built by AUGUST GERN in the newly opened church of Notre Dame de France in Leicester Square (the French Catholic Church in London). The circular building was built in 1793 as a panorama to house very large paintings for public viewing. This was Gern’s first organ after leaving the employ of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, and comprised two manuals and 24 speaking stops.
The organ was rebuilt and enlarged to three manuals by J. W. WALKER & SONS, who also revoiced the reeds. During the Second World War the building was bombed, and the instrument was subsequently removed and stored by Walker’s.
An / a largely new ? organ was built by J. W. WALKER & SONS, incorporating only a few of the Gern ranks.
The organ was overhauled, tonally reconstructed, and enlarged by
B. C. SHEPHERD & SON. The console was refitted with stop knobs replacing the horseshoe stop key layout. The original Gern stops were identified, and other secondhand French stops were added, including some by Cavaillé-Coll. Certain stops were replaced by secondhand ranks of higher quality, and tonal additions made to all departments, including 32ft flue and reed stops, and a Chamade reed. Most reed ranks were revoiced in the French style by Keith Bance, who also assisted with action work. The Organiste Titulaire at the time was the late Mark Buxton. Since completion of this work there have been regular organ recitals by many famous British and overseas organists.
The sanctuary of the church was reordered in 2003, and the building was redecorated in 2004, when the upper front pipes were repainted.
The console was refurbished and rewired. The coupling action was given new solid-state switching, a multi-channel piston capture system with stepper was installed, alonng with additional couplers and pistons. Several extended mutations were added to the Positif and Pédale, and the Bombarde division was made floating. A Pedal divide was fitted, with 12 position divide switch, and octave, super octave, and unison off couplers. A programmable General Crescendo Pedal with four memories was installed, and the electro-pneumatic engine of the Récit box was replaced by an electric shutter opening motor. This work was once again carried out by B. C. SHEPHERD & SONS, in consultation with Duncan Middleton, the Organiste Titulaire.
An electric shutter opening motor was also fitted to the Positif box, in place of the electro-pneumatic engine.
B. C. SHEPHERD & SON (Established 1927)
IBO Business Member of The Institute of British Organ Building
1 Mill Ridge