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The last blast of Bristol Beacon’s pipe organ

A wooden organ pipe bracket with blue ribbon fasteners with

In 1967 years ago the newly re-built concert hall was preparing to unveil Bristol’s pristine new auditorium for the Festival of Britain. But the iconic organ, built by expert craftsman Harrison & Harrison of Durham, wasn’t installed until nearly five years after hall opened.

The organ, the fourth of its kind at Bristol Beacon, was finally celebrated at an opening ceremony on 18 January 1956 and was presided by Bristol’s Lord Mayor Alderman Harry Crook, and organist George Thalben-Ball who performed the first concert.

In June 2018 Harrison & Harrison carefully dismantled the organ and all 5,372 pipes ranging from tiny ‘tin whistles’ to 32-foot tall ones that rumble in the bass, and each part was, catalogued, packaged and loaded into 7 lorries for transportation back to Durham. We were lucky enough to take a look inside the giant instrument as it was being dismantled.

Bronze coloured pipes lying flat on a wooden floor.
Bronze organ pipes lying together on a wooden floor.
A technician in blue overalls dismantles the Bristol Beacon Organ
Harrison & Harrison technician removing the 1951 organ
A collection of silver organ pipes stand upright .
A scaffold platform extends out from a slatted panel where a technician is at work in blue overalls.
Large grey metal organ pipes
A scaffold platform extends out with a view of a wide auditorium with red seats
Wooden organ pipes lying together on a wooden floor.

“People come from all over the world to see this organ.”

Chris Mansfield, Bristol & District Organist Association

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