Restoration and Maintenance

Organ Restoration – Our Approach and Ethics

With over 40 years experience working with instruments manufactured across the globe we have a solid background in the various systems and techniques used by various firms. Parts and components for all these manufacturers are held in stock or made new, to exact specifications.  It is important to us to keep as many original parts as possible during any restoration; too much can be lost if care and effort is not taken to preserve as much of an instrument as possible. With many organs now having passed a centenary this point is more important than ever before.

Experience of working with instruments severely damaged, sometimes by fire and water, has given us unparalleled expertise in restoration of actions and pipework. It is of particular importance when working with pipework not to change windways, voicing and dimensions. Pipes are the voice and soul of any organ and great care is always taken not to disturb the delicate balance and voicing intended by the original builder.

Many instruments have had changes made during their working life and we always consider these alterations in any restoration. Rather than simply undo changes that have occurred during the working life of an organ (many of which have been of benefit), we assess each situation individually and draw a balance between ‘factory original’ and ‘working’ condition. For instance: many 87 Key Gavioli instruments in England were enlarged in the 1920s by highly regarded firms, taking the 89VB system from Marenghi to standardise music. In these instances we feel it important to preserve these ‘working’ enhancements rather than return the instrument to its original 87 key ‘factory’ format. Many such instruments have spent longer in their altered form than their original specification.

Throughout the course of our restorations great care is taken to use the highest quality materials, utilising traditional methods and processes – put quite simply, we are not in the business of re-inventing the wheel!

Tuning & Maintenance

We conduct tunings during our regular maintenance rounds. Great care is always taken to adhere to original tuning temperaments and methods. Tuning visits also give us the opportunity to remedy any speech defects with pipework and help identify any potential issues with an instrument before they develop into serious faults. Points that cannot be addressed on site can be removed and brought back according to your schedule.

Case Study – 112 Key Gaudin & Cie

This 112 key instrument, bearing works number 2596, was built by Gaudin & Cie for the Gallon family in Paris c.1921; it served as the centrepiece for their travelling sealion show Les Lions Marins. Developed from Charles Marenghi’s 104 key scale, the instrument represents the zenith of Parisian mechanical organ construction, the very last phase before the eventual decline of the industry later that decade. The show utilised the instrument continually and modernized the organ, presumed between 1924-26, by relocating the percussion and adding Saxophone register (already prepared for); it was also at this time that the tremulant and pneumatic keyframe drive were removed. At the beginning of the 1930s the instrument ceased playing and was placed safely in store at the family’s depot in central Paris, there it stayed until 2015 when brothers Bernard and Roger Michaut (descendants of the Gallon family) decided to have the organ restored.

Following initial preparation in France the instrument came to our workshops in January 2016 for work to commence. Although largely complete the organ still required comprehensive restoration including: re-leathering and repair of all action-work, cleaning and repair of pipework, rebuilding of the case (due to woodworm damage), conservation of the façade panels and repairs to the musical repertoire. The instrument retains its original blower unit built by Gaudin & Cie, the only alteration being a new electric motor. In May 2020, the Gaudin played once more and preparations for its return to France could begin. Unfortunately, due to the complications brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic globally it remained in the UK until February 2023 after which it could finally be returned home safely. The Michaut family intend to travel the instrument over the coming years, a proud display of their family’s fairground heritage and the cultural legacy of mechanical organs. A small selection of restoration photographs can be seen below.

112 Gaudin & Cie

Fig. 1. 112 key Gaudin & Cie No. 2596, as of 2023
Photograph courtesy of the Michaut family

Les Lions Marines

Fig. 2. The organ situated within Les Lions Marins
Photograph courtesy of the Michaut family

Le Rossignol de L’Opera by Damaré – musical arrangement by Kevin Meayers


Melody (c’-g”, 32 notes):

Counter Melody (C-c’, 25 notes):

Flageolet – two ranks, 8’ flute Saxophone – three ranks, 8’ saxophone, 8’ trumpet & 8’ flue helper
Violin Piano – four ranks, 8’ violin Voix Celeste – four ranks, 8’ violin
Violin Forte – two ranks, 8’ violin Grande Flute – one rank, 4’ flute
Clarinette (c’-c’’) – two ranks, 8’ metal reed & 8’ flue helper Baryton – two ranks, 8’ baryton & 8’ flue helper
Piston (c’-c’’) – two ranks, 8’ brass trumpet & 8’ flue helper Trombone Chant – two ranks, 8’ brass trumpet & 8’ flue helper
Harmonic Flute – two ranks, 8’ flute & 8’ flue helper Cello – two ranks, 8’ cello
Trompette en Chamade (c’-c’’) – 8’ conical brass reed Bassoon – one rank, 8’ bassoon

Accompaniment (f-e’, 12 notes):

Bass (F-e, 12 notes):

Piano – three ranks, 8’ stopped flute & two 8’ cello Piano – four ranks, 4’ open flute, 8’ stopped flute, 16’ stopped flue & 16’ cello
Forte – three ranks, 8’ cello, 4’ violin & 8’ wooden trumpet Mezzo Fore – 4’ open flute, 8’ wooden clarion & 8’ brass trombone
Trombone – one rank, 16’ wooden trombone


Snare drum (piano and forte) Bass drum (add cymbal with forte)
Chinese cymbal Woodblock
Castagnettes Triangle

Additional Information:

The instrument also features a ‘combination’ register, this allows the Bassoon and Baryton to be pneumatically coupled to the melody division (an extension chest adds the additional seven notes required). A pneumatic relay works in conjunction with the register box allowing reed stops to be swapped for flue work when a softer tone is desired for a given location. Additionally, the register box features two declanche functions, a general cancel and one for bass registration. The tremulant was removed by Gaudin & Cie during the 1920s, it operated from a chain perforation at the cardboard’s edge.

Marche de la Foire – composed by Luigi Chiappa, arranged by Louis Blache

Invicta March by Playfair – arrangement by Kevin Meayers

Cach’ ton piano by Dréan – arrangement by Kevin Meayers