Breathing New Life Into Pipes of the Past

By Brian Lemay 71 comments

– When most people go into a church, they go in there to reflect or to pray. Most people I think would admit that music enhances that experience. There is nothing as moving as the rumbling of the lowest pitch pipes on the organ. The entire room vibrates
with the the sound. It’s a magical feeling. (light music) OK, we can start. I’m David Wyld. I’m the managing director
of Henry Willis and Sons. We are organ builders, and
we build, restore, repair and tune pipe organs all over
the British Isles and beyond. Henry Willis was born in 1821 in London and set up his own company
as an organ builder in 1845. He built some of the
largest and grandest organs of the Victorian period. Until the Industrial
Revolution, the pipe organ was the most complex
mechanism ever devised. The average pipe organ will have up to 10,000 moving parts in it. A pipe organ has pipes
which sound or speak when air is blown through the mouth area. The speaking length of the
pipe determines the pitch. So, basically, the longer the
pipe, the lower the pitch. The shorter the pipe,
the higher the pitch. The firm has built somewhere
between two-and-a-half and 3,000 organs in its
nearly 175 year history. We still use exactly the same methods; some of the equipment is more up-to-date, but most of the work is hand work. And we still use many
of the Victorian tools that are still in the firm
right from the first days. The skills involved is, there’s casting, there’s the metal forming
and the soldering; that’s just for the pipe making. There’s the joinery skills
required to make wooden pipework. That’s real skill. When I hear one of our organs
play in a big acoustic, it can be very moving. The larger organs have speaking pipes from a quarter of an inch
long down to 32 feet long across an entire tonal
and dynamic spectrum. And there’s no better feeling than standing at an opening
recital of a new organ, looking up at it, and
saying, “We made that.” (organ music)


Nathan James

Sep 9, 2018, 6:00 am Reply


mike the Cob

Sep 9, 2018, 6:01 am Reply



Sep 9, 2018, 6:01 am Reply

If you say your first your opinion doesn't matter

Tiny Red Ninja

Sep 9, 2018, 6:01 am Reply

Great videos! I love every single one!

Andrew Leong

Sep 9, 2018, 6:02 am Reply


Brenda Bravo

Sep 9, 2018, 6:02 am Reply

Cool art…😀

Jaap Heslenfeld

Sep 9, 2018, 6:02 am Reply

For a second I thought it was Hans Zimmer in the thumbnail

Kaleb Madron

Sep 9, 2018, 6:03 am Reply



Sep 9, 2018, 6:04 am Reply

F*** yeah pipe organs are dope, half to play some Johann Sebastian Bach

Jäger Himself

Sep 9, 2018, 6:08 am Reply

p e n i s

Josh Witte

Sep 9, 2018, 6:09 am Reply


Nicholas Quintero

Sep 9, 2018, 6:10 am Reply

I love you guys

Arun B

Sep 9, 2018, 6:12 am Reply

Notifications squad 😍

Baguette 348

Sep 9, 2018, 6:16 am Reply

I wonder if they have another type of pipe

kate-mia white

Sep 9, 2018, 6:24 am Reply

Wow this is amazing. I love the sound of church organs so much ❤💖💕💓🙌🙌🙏🙏

cmon yeba

Sep 9, 2018, 6:29 am Reply

They seem to know a lot about pipes


Sep 9, 2018, 6:30 am Reply

This channel has such a high production value, it’s sad that it doesn’t get more views ):

Hard Time

Sep 9, 2018, 6:31 am Reply

2 in the morning and I should be in school in 5 hours. But screw it

gustya pratama

Sep 9, 2018, 6:32 am Reply

0 dislikes.nice

Reach For The Sky

Sep 9, 2018, 6:39 am Reply

This is why I date older women, to send new life down their pipes.

StUpidMonkeY_ 77

Sep 9, 2018, 6:49 am Reply

Hello!! I am a huge fan of this channel!!👍👍👍

Parth Gajjar

Sep 9, 2018, 6:50 am Reply

Atheist here. I don't know if these organs have any religious significance or not but they sound great and I'd maybe go to a church one day to hear them only.

Mankey Fruit

Sep 9, 2018, 6:54 am Reply

When reading the title, I thought it was gonna be a bong

emily ginger

Sep 9, 2018, 7:00 am Reply

Ive been there

Senura Kaduwela

Sep 9, 2018, 7:00 am Reply

Wow 😮 Such beauty 😍 and such music ❤️ Love you Great Big Story ❤️


Sep 9, 2018, 7:01 am Reply

is a Pipe Organ the worlds largest instrument? 😕


Sep 9, 2018, 7:03 am Reply

wonder if they're organ donors?… terrible dad joke, I'm sorry.


Sep 9, 2018, 7:06 am Reply

That would be fun to play on that organ.


Sep 9, 2018, 7:20 am Reply

Absolutely brilliant


Sep 9, 2018, 7:50 am Reply

Old time, pipes

Brien Berglund

Sep 9, 2018, 7:56 am Reply

1:45 looks like Robert de niro


Sep 9, 2018, 9:36 am Reply

Wish you guys would cut longer videos so you could go into a bit more detail. 🙁


Sep 9, 2018, 9:45 am Reply

How do you get into a job like organ builder? Lol.

LegendaryNoob27 • 30 years ago

Sep 9, 2018, 10:07 am Reply

Great video everyday!

Reiji Ricardo

Sep 9, 2018, 10:36 am Reply

Dis was lit

F Hartless

Sep 9, 2018, 10:40 am Reply


Patrick Meyer

Sep 9, 2018, 10:47 am Reply

I want to work there in a few years. Already building pipe organs, so who knows?


Sep 9, 2018, 10:49 am Reply



Sep 9, 2018, 10:54 am Reply


Dr.Who1980 Productions

Sep 9, 2018, 11:24 am Reply

I love pipe organs! GOOD JOB! 🙂


Sep 9, 2018, 12:16 pm Reply

I believe that we need more Great Big Story videos like this. A lot of videos they have been producing have been political, and what I believed was so great about Great Big Story was that their videos were NOT political, and they offered interesting and even random video topics, but they were really well made. This is simply my opinion that I felt like stating.

Chris Wright

Sep 9, 2018, 12:53 pm Reply

This channel produces such good content and deserves tons of more views than it gets.

Moxie Beast ASMR

Sep 9, 2018, 1:07 pm Reply

this totally reminds me of Mr. Rogers taking us to the saxophone and guitar makers. pipe organs are sooo fascinating to me. thank you for making this.


Sep 9, 2018, 1:20 pm Reply

I need someone to blow into my organ


Sep 9, 2018, 1:58 pm Reply

Love the pipe organ, both classical, church and theater organ.

Nick R. T.

Sep 9, 2018, 2:13 pm Reply

Who was here because you thought it was about some kind of other breathing pipes? Wink wink

Terry Lambert

Sep 9, 2018, 2:13 pm Reply

What do you use for the keys instead of ivory?

Adam Diaz

Sep 9, 2018, 3:49 pm Reply

i feel young


Sep 9, 2018, 4:31 pm Reply

I love organs, need to get some Bach in my ears.

Eric Rusch Sr

Sep 9, 2018, 4:56 pm Reply

A wonderful instrument.

Thank you.

Matthew Willis

Sep 9, 2018, 5:29 pm Reply

I learn new things about my family name all time. This is just amazing

Michelle irby

Sep 9, 2018, 5:40 pm Reply

Bring back this beautiful instrument to every Catholic mass

Bloodcrow 100

Sep 9, 2018, 12:04 am Reply

Absolute unit

Ben Smith

Sep 9, 2018, 2:14 am Reply

I thought that was what viagra did.


Sep 9, 2018, 4:28 am Reply

Building organs is saving lives.

James Russell

Sep 9, 2018, 9:54 am Reply

Organs are, at least in my opinion, the most impressive and grandest instruments created by man.

Nathan Eric Dolloso

Sep 9, 2018, 10:46 am Reply

What if they get a daughter? Henry and sons and daughters?

Chris Twist

Sep 9, 2018, 10:59 am Reply

Guy with the blue eyes is dreamy lol

Laila Dimyati

Sep 9, 2018, 11:40 am Reply

1:42 he is hot!


Sep 9, 2018, 5:46 pm Reply

Wow you still have churches in England??? I thought it’s all mosques now.

Fry Lock

Sep 9, 2018, 10:20 pm Reply

I wanna hear a black midi on an organ


Sep 9, 2018, 5:01 am Reply



Sep 9, 2018, 7:16 pm Reply

I've been playing the organ for 3 years now and it is an amazing instrument. Great job on the video!


Sep 9, 2018, 9:56 am Reply

Why are these videos so short and where do we find full length features?

Mark Reviews

Sep 9, 2018, 11:16 pm Reply

Great Big Story OriGANS.

Ferenc Dobos

Oct 10, 2018, 1:10 am Reply

Is metal Pipe making aren't a real skill? Soldering together a 1/8" pipe requires very delicate eye and hand coordination. And also chosing the optimal temperature of the soldering iron for the best soldering result. If its too hot, the pipe would melt in if its to cold, then the solder would not stick to the pipe…

War Mac88

Nov 11, 2018, 8:42 am Reply


Brian Kavanagh

Jan 1, 2019, 12:24 am Reply

Used to be an H willis organ builder great job very rewarding but not very good pay or at least not when i worked for them, it was good to see two from my time still working

Brian Kavanagh

Jan 1, 2019, 12:38 am Reply

Fred no change apart from the glasses comes to us all some quite a bit earlier.

Martin Bell

Feb 2, 2019, 4:38 pm Reply

Henry Willis 4 was a character and a half, RIP .


May 5, 2019, 6:57 am Reply

Are there still any of the Willis family involved in the company? Or did they sell the company & the goodwill years ago?

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