THE FRENCH CONNECTION

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Stanley
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THE FRENCH CONNECTION

Post by Stanley » 11 Mar 2014, 05:38

THE FRENCH CONNECTION

Occasionally, when you are wandering through the undergrowth of research, you trip over something completely by chance and realise that you have found a goodie. This happened to me this week while I was searching the Internet and found myself looking at a picture of a magnificent organ. It was built by a man called Aristide Cavaille-Coll who had his works in Paris and was so well-regarded that he either renovated, or built completely new organs, for many of the major cathedrals in France including Saint Sulpice and Notre Dame. One of his main backers was Paul Chandon de Brialles, director of the famous champagne producers, Moet and Chandon at Epernay.

Interesting, but what has this got to do with Barlick? The surprising answer is, very little! However, it has a lot to do with Bracewell.

We’ve got to start in Blackburn with the textile industry called get to the bottom of this connection. A man called Robert Hopwood was one of the founders of a large firm of spinners and manufacturers. They were very successful and on the 7th of March 1850 Hopwood School was opened on land given by Robert Hopwood at the junction of Mosley Street and James Street (now Proctor Street) in Blackburn. As well as giving the land, Robert had donated £150 towards the £800 cost of the building. The foundation stone was laid by John Turner Hopwood, grandson of Robert.

John Turner Hopwood hadn’t gone into the family firm but was a partner in the London music publishing firm of Ascherberg, Hopwood and Crew Ltd. who, amongst many other famous songs, published ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’ in 1915.

J T Hopwood was present when the Cavaille-Coll organ at the Carmelite Priory in Kensington was inaugurated in 1866 with a recital by Widor and Guilmant, two world famous players. He was impressed and endeavoured to use his influence with the Prince of Wales to get Cavaille-Coll the contract for building the organ in the Albert Hall, but failed. However, he commissioned an organ for himself and in 1870, while the city of Paris was under siege by the Prussians, Cavaille-Coll’s foreman and chief voicer was hard at work in Bracewell Hall installing the new organ. Hopwood had bought the hall shortly before this, he was the man who rebuilt the old Elizabethan hall in the ‘Scottish Baronial’ style and also built an extension, Hopwood House, on the Home Farm which he renamed Hopwood Farm in the late 1860’s.

The installation of the organ was completed in October 1870 and was officially launched with a recital by the Leeds City Organist, Dr. Spark on the 7th of November the same year. It was rumoured that Queen Victoria herself was at the ceremony but my trawl of the archives has shown that this isn’t true, there is a confusion with the 1872 inauguration of the organ in the Albert Hall in London.

In 1875 Hopwood had the Bracewell organ enlarged by the manufacturer but in 1883 he moved the organ to his new house, Ketton Hall in Rutland. It looks as though this is when he sold Bracewell Hall and severed his connection with the village. The organ itself survives, it was transferred to Parr Hall at Warrington in 1926 when it was purchased by Warrington Corporation. As far as we know, it was in the 1875 condition. In 1969 a movement was started to support the retention of the organ even though £9,000 was needed to restore it. This became the Warrington Cavaille-Coll Organ Supporters Group and if you are interested, they can be contacted on 01925-442345. I am grateful to them and the Parr Hall web site for the original clues which led to me discovering the story of the organ.

The thing that fascinates me about this story is that it is a good example of how textile money was moving out of the industry in the mid to late 19th century. There are many examples of this, one famous one is Bullough of the firm Howard and Bullough in Accrington which employed over 5,000 hands and made many of the tape machines in Barlick. He bought the island of Rum in Scotland, built a castle and he and his wife are buried there in a mock Greek mausoleum on an isolated headland. Hopwood wasn’t working on this scale but he certainly left his mark on Bracewell. I have long been intrigued by the palatial rebuild of Hopwood Farm and the large building behind King Henry’s Parlour which looks like a school house and is dated 1869.

On a smaller scale we see the large houses at the top of Barnoldswick Lane next to Letcliffe Park and on Brogden Lane which were built by the local manufacturers. Many of them later moved out to the Fylde Coast and a lot of the money made in Barnoldswick in the 19th century is still alive and well in St Anne’s. I was once in a casino near Squire’s Gate, at the South end of Blackpool and was amazed by the sight of money vanishing through the slot in the roulette table as though it was going out of fashion. I asked the person I was with who these gamblers were and she said that they were mainly Chinese restaurant owners or old cotton widows. It brought home to me the fact that the money doesn’t go away, it just circulates, and I wondered how much of that gambling money could be traced back to the mills of Barnoldswick and the rest of Lancashire and the workers who gave their lives to make it. A spooky thought.

Thanks for the feedback, particularly to the daughter of Moreland Hoyle who rang me to point out that the Corn Mill chimney was never altered, I had made a mistake. She was quite right, I confused it with the Gas Works chimney and apologise for this.

SCG/16 April 2002
1023 words


One pic attached. Caption is:

The Cavaille-Coll organ from Bracewell Hall, 1870-1883. (Picture courtesy of Parr Hall, Warrington)
Stanley Challenger Graham
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"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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Re: THE FRENCH CONNECTION

Post by Stanley » 19 Jul 2014, 07:41

I like the way people find these articles and years after I get additional information. I got mail this morning from a man called Jose Rigby:

"The 1870 Cavaille-Coll Organ in the Parr Hall, Warrington, Cheshire, England.
The great hall of Aristide Cavaille-Coll at avenue du Maine, Paris lent itself to displaying Cavaille-Coll’s biggest instruments, like the one built for Mr John Turner Hopwood of London, a rich music publisher, which was installed at his home Bracewell Hall near Skipton in Yorkshire.
It was a three-manual of 41 stops, with two enclosed divisions. Saint-Saens and Widor shared the first two performances on this instrument in March, 1870. A third programme was given soon after by Alexandre Guilmant.
Following its installation in England, the organ was inaugurated by William Spark, on November 7th 1870. It was to be in Bracewell Hall for about five years, and in 1875, J T Hopwood had it moved to his newly built home, Ketton Hall, Near Stamford, Rutland.
In 1873, Cavaille-Coll completed a large organ for Albert Hall, Sheffield, England. For French people - to see such masterpieces of workmanship installed elsewhere than in a church, it was necessary to travel to England at that time.
As a result of Sheffield having a concert organ, there was considerable interest in having one built in France.
In 1875, a large Cavaille-Coll organ was purchased for the Amsterdam Palace of Industry.
In 1877, a three-manual Cavaille-Coll Organ was installed in Manchester Town Hall.
In 1878, a four-manual Cavaille-Coll Organ was installed in the Palais du Trocadero in Paris.
Of these these five organs, the 1870 was moved twice, its third home was the Parr Hall in Warrington, England, having been bought by the Warrington Corporation in 1925 and installed the following year. The Sheffield Albert Hall organ was lost in a fire in 1937. The Amsterdam organ was bought by two wealthy art lovers in 1916, and in 1924 it was moved to the Haarlem music hall – the Philharmonie. From 2004-2006, Flentrop Orgelbouw restored the instrument to its original state. The Manchester Town Hall Organ has been modernised and enlarged, and in 1970, the original console was replaced. This organ is now said to be unplayable. The Trocadero organ has been moved and rebuilt several times and is now in Auditorium Maurice Ravel, Lyons. Little of Cavaille-Coll remains.
In spite of its lack of maintenance and regular tuning, Warrington’s Cavaille-Coll Organ is still a remarkable instrument. Unfortunately, and because of financial restraints, Warrington Borough Council has been unable to implement Ian Bell’s recommendations in his last report on the condition of the instrument. So the only attention the organ receives, is when it is tuned by David Wells Organ Builder before a concert. This organ is worthy of much more that it is getting at the moment. The last Recital in March was attended by 272 people, and was the largest audience at a recital for many years. The 1870 Cavaille-Coll Organ has been discussed on many forums, and I have taken the opportunity of sharing Archive material with those of you who would like to know more about this fine instrument.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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Stanley
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Re: THE FRENCH CONNECTION

Post by Stanley » 20 Jul 2014, 06:41

Image

The organ at Parr Hall.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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