Bethania Chapel and organ, Eglwysbach

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Bethania Chapel and organ, Eglwysbach

This chapel was built by the Calvinistic Methodists and opened in 1885. Henry Davis Pochin, of Bodnant Hall, donated £50 towards the construction cost and laid the foundation stone – despite being an Anglican. Initially the chapel had about 30 members and two elders, who were the village’s miller and cobbler. One wag suggested this was why the letters MC appear above the door!

The organ was built c.1900 for TP Davies, owner of the St George’s Hotel in Llandudno. It was installed in the dining saloon “for the entertainment of his guests”. It was sold to Capel Bethania in 1920.

The organ was built by Thomas Casson. He hailed from Denbigh and worked as a banker until 1892, when he devoted himself to building organs. He developed complex pneumatic technologies to improve the sound, and wrote several books on organ building. He produced single-manual organs mostly. The example in Bethania is one of few surviving double-manual organs (with two rows of keys for the hands to play) by him in Britain, and the only one in Wales.

His new gadgetry tended to be less reliable than the work of later builders who copied it. In 2014, the organ at Bethania was restored by David Wood of Huddersfield, making it less prone to faults while preserving the original machinery and sound. The video clip shows a little of the organ’s first recital after rebuilding, performed by Graham Eccles.

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