English summaryThe St. Nicolas-church in Purmerend and its organs - short history and description.
The present St. Nicolas-church was built in 1850-1853 and houses three historic organs: the main organ by Garrels (1742, three manuals), a house organ by Bätz (1777, one manual) and an organ by Witte (1864, two manuals).
The church replaced a much older church which had been finished around 1520. By then, it had three naves with a small tower on the west side. It was also consecrated to saint Nicholas. After the Reformation the church became a Protestant church around 1573. The church had an organ, dating back to the early 16th century. It was enlarged in the second half of the 17th century, so it could accompany the congregation. After various alterations and enlargements this organ was finally rebuilt by Rudolph Garrels in 1742, into the state we know it today.
Rudolph Garrels was an organ builder from Northern Germany and a pupil of the famous Arp Schnitger. Garrels designed a new instrument with a "Hamburger Prospekt (main case, ruckpositiv and pedal towers), and incorporated pipes and other parts of the previous organ. The Garrels-organ still contains some 150 pipes dating back to the early 16th century.
The Garrels-organ was commissioned by the City Council of Purmerend. The organ was to reflect the importance of the city. For this reason the city's coat of arms was prominently presented above the organ case. After Garrels death other famous organ builders maintained the organ, and only few changes were made.
In 1850 the gothic church had to be torn down because it was in a bad state of repair. A new church with contemporary architecture was built in 1850-1853. Fortunately the Garrels-organ could be reinstalled in the new building, although under an arch and somewhat less prominently visible.
The dismantling in 1850 was done by organ builders Flaes & Brünjes. They carefully marked all items, so that rebuilding the organ would be as easy as possible. They rebuilt the organ in the new church with some alterations to the stop list. They installed new keyboards, pedal board (the old ones are still kept in a nearby museum) and couplers, and also made changes to the wind pressure and voicing.
In the remainder of the 19th and during the 20th century it was business as usual: regular maintenance, e.g. by Knipscheer and Van Dam, some changes by Flentrop in 1911 and 1922 and a restoration by Ernst Leeflang in 1947.
In 1971 the Protestant congregation left this church. Some years later the organ was dismantled and stored by Flentrop after which the church was refurnished for use as a theatre and concert hall. The empty organ case remained in the building as a silent witness of the past. The function of the building changed again when the Roman Catholic parish acquired the church in 1989. They rededicated it to St. Nicholas and St. Catherine, adapting the interior of the church for the Catholic mass.
The church was without a pipe organ until 2000. The parish had acquired an organ by Witte ,built in 1864, from the (closed) Mennonite Church nearby. The organ case was installed soon after 1989, but restoration and instalment of the organ itself was only done in 2000, after the church had undergone a thorough restoration.