Henry Willis built the organ in 1879 with four manuals, pedals and mechanical action at a cost of £2,500. In 1897 Robert Hope-Jones was employed to install electro-pneumatic key and stop action in a new detached console by the choir stalls. We are fortunate that this infamous organ builder did not touch the precious pipe work (it was he who developed the foghorn for lighthouses!)
Harrison and Harrison of Durham have maintained the organ since 1931, carrying out major work in that year, 1959, 1979 and most recently, 1995. Harrison’s sympathetic rebuilds provided very few changes to the organ. On the pedals only a 16′ dulciana has been added (1931. The pedals must be coupled to the manuals most of the time, as would have been the case in 1879. The Choir organ unfortunately lost a 16′ and clarinet in 1959, but gained upper work at 2/3′, 2′, 1 3/5′ and 1′ pitches. Much of the great organ has been re-voiced, notably the large open diapason, and 8′ and 4′ trumpets which are now more like trombas. Cuthbert Harrison added the 16 trumpet in 1959 and in 1979 three useful smaller scale stops were added (4 principal, 2 spitzflute, II sesquialtera). They were prepared for in 1959 when the great reeds were moved inside the Solo box. This does allow greater dynamic flexibility and transfer stops allow the reeds to be used on the choir, solo and pedal sections. The swell organ had five reed stops in 1879 (including for the first time anywhere a 16′ oboe). Arthur Harrison added the 16′ trumpet in 1931. He also made the solo viol d’orchestre at the same time. The piccolo was moved from the great organ. In 1995 Harrison and Harrison added a Viole Celeste to the solo organ. The alteration was a success, despite the early hazard of a lightning strike on the organ just months after completion. The great joy of the organ is the quality of pipe work and resulting beauty of sound from all the stops. This was one of the finest instruments that the great Henry Willis built, but it is also to the credit of Harrison’s that their alterations, re-voicings and additions have maintained the musical unity of the organ.
The Organ’s full specification is as follows: click here to download the Specification of the Organ (word document).