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Pipe Organs in Devon (IA Section)

Tue. 16 April 2024 at 11:00 am

This day’s event begins with a talk by Paul Hodges at Buckfast Abbey Conference Centre(*), followed by an afternoon visit to the organ building workshop of William Drake Ltd.

(*) Note that a late change meant this was held at The Medieval Guest Hall facing the west front of the Abbey. We hope that the failure to update this page did not inconvenience anyone.

At 11 am, the talk will begin with a description of the organ as a musical instrument, the varied contexts of its use, and the engineering required to make it work. There will be a summary of the history of organ building in Britain and Devon.

Paul Hodges’ career spans work as a studio manager for the BBC and employment by many computer companies. He has developed skills as a sound and recording engineer, and has made his own computer-based organ at home. He has a lifetime’s devotion to choral singing and once founded an opera touring company near Oxford.

There will be a break for lunch for which members should make their own arrangements. It may be taken at the Abbey Conference Centre dining room.  Alternatively, meals are also available at the Abbey Inn on the main road from Buckfast Abbey to Buckfastleigh (30 Buckfast Rd, Buckfast): telephone 01364 642343.

At 2pm, a visit to the workshops of William Drake Ltd., Specialist Organ Builders and Restorers of Historic instruments at the John Loosemore Centre, Chapel Street, Buckfastleigh TQ11 0AB

William Drake Ltd has been trading since 1974, when William Drake established the firm in Devon. The firm designs, builds, commissions and restores mechanical action pipe organs, and takes its inspiration from English organs of the 18th and 19th centuries.

There is no limit to the numbers that can attend the morning talk. Some limit may be required for the afternoon workshop, however. Registration for the afternoon workshop should be sought from the event organiser, details below.

Directions for reaching the Abbey Conference Centre: From  the A38 Plymouth to Exeter expressway, take the Dart Bridge turn off and follow the brown directional signs to Buckfast Abbey, turning right at the Dart Bridge roundabout into Buckfast Road. Follow the road to the mini roundabout and take first exit – the main Abbey car park is to your right; go past this, continuing up the hill and take the next right turn. Follow this road on towards a T-junction and turn right at small village green. Follow signs for Conference Centre.  Parking is available at the Centre.


Tue. 16 April 2024
11:00 am
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Industrial Archaeology Section (Mike Stannard)


(for venue, see text)