Organ history

The first organ was purchased for the parish by the Reverend John White, sometime in the middle of the nineteenth century – the first record of a salary being paid to an organist is in 1843, when Mr John Smith was paid £5 for playing the organ.  The details of this instrument are unclear, most likely a single manual instrument built, according to the National Pipe Organ Register (www.npor.org.uk), by James Eagles, an organ builder based in London between c. 1840 and 1864.  Around 1879 this organ was either replaced or rebuilt by J.W. Walker, also based in London.  At this time the organist’s salary was increased to £20 a year (paid quarterly at Easter, Lady Day, Michaelmas and Christmas) and 16/- a year paid to the organ blower.

The specification of the Walker organ in the south transept at the beginning of the twentieth century was as follows:

Great Compass CC – F, 54 notes
Open Diapason 8′ Metal from C; lowest octave wood
Keraulophon 8′ T.C. Metal
Clarabella 8′ T.C. Wood
Stopped Bass 8′ Bottom 12 notes only; wood
Principal 4′ Metal
Flute 4′ Wood
Fifteenth 2′ Metal
Cornopean 8′ T.C. Metal
Swell to Great
Swell Compass T.C. to F, 42 notes
Bourdon 16′ Wood and metal
Open Diapason 8′ Metal
Stopped Diapason 8′ Wood
Principal 4′ Metal
Trumpet 8′ Metal
Pedal Compass CC – G, 20 notes
Bourdon 16′ Wood
Great to Pedal
View of the Nave c. 1887. The organ can be seen in the South Transept on the right of the picture.

View of the Nave c. 1887. The organ can be seen in the South Transept on the right of the picture.

The only known image of the Walker organ, from a larger image of the Nave, 1887

The only known image of the Walker organ, from the larger image of the Nave, above.

 

In 1902, Brownes tended a quote to rebuild and enlarge the organ with the following specification:

Great Compass CC – A, 58 notes
Open Diapason 8′ Metal
Clarabella 8′ Wood
Dulciana 8′ Metal; Grooved bass
Principal 4′ Metal
Flute 4′ Wood
Fifteenth 2′ Metal
Swell to Great
Octave Swell to Great
Swell Compass CC to A, 58 notes
Leiblich Bourdon 16′ Wood and metal
Open Diapason 8′ Metal and metal
Stopped Diapason 8′ Wood
Salicional 8′ Metal
Voix Celestes 8′ T.C. Metal
Principal 4′ Metal
Piccolo 2′ Metal
Cornopean 8′ Metal
Oboe 8′ Metal
Swell Octave
Pedal Compass CC – F, 30 notes
Bourdon 16′ Wood
Flute Bass 8′ Wood
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal

Two combination pedals to Great
Two combination pedals to Swell
Tubular pneumatic action

This was to be built using the existing pipework with new where necessary, and using the exiting casework, again adapted where necessary. The cost of the quote was Three hundred and fifty pounds. There was also a second scheme proposed to have the organ placed ‘on pillars at the west end’ (so even over a hundred years ago there was dissatisfaction with the placing of the organ in the transepts and the resulting balance in the nave!) with the addition of thumb pistons in place of combination pedals. The cost of this second scheme was Four hundred and twenty-five pounds.

Sadly it seems that both of these schemes were beyond the means of the congregation of St Stephen’s at that time, and a much reduced instrument was ordered for two-hundred pounds: “an organ of two manuals and pedal, containing 13 sounding stops, 4 couplers, 4 comp. ped, in Pine Case…” (Brownes Ledger, page 611). An additional three pounds was paid for “fitting sheet zinc to wall [as a] protection against damp” (ibid.) and two pounds for a pitch pine seat.

The resulting instrument’s specification was as follows:

Great Compass CC – G, 56 notes
Open Diapason 8′ Metal; Wood bottom octave
Leiblich Gedact 8′ Metal; Wood bottom octave
Dulciana 8′ Metal; Grooved bass
Principal 4′ Metal
Flute 4′ Wood
Swell to Great
Swell Compass CC to G, 56 notes
Violin Diapason 8′ Metal, wood bottom octave
Stopped Diapason 8′ Wood
Salicional 8′ Metal
Voix Celestes 8′ T.C. Metal
Gemshorn 4′ Metal
Piccolo 2′ Metal
Oboe 8′ Metal
Swell Octave
Swell Sub-Octave
Pedal Compass CC – F, 30 notes
Bourdon 16′ Wood
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal

Two combination pedals to Great
Two combination pedals to Swell
Tubular pneumatic action

In 1964 the mechanical side of the instrument was failing, and so the tubular pneumatic action was replaced with new direct electric action soundboards by F. H. Browne & Sons. A new case was constructed in the north transept either side of the large central window. Little change was made to the tonal resources of the organ, save for the replacement of the Vox Celeste with a Twelfth on the Swell, and a two-rank mixture (15.19) added to top the Great chorus. The range of pedal stops was increased through the use of the extension principle, all being taken from the same rank of Bourdon pipes.

F. H. Browne and Sons, 1964

Great Compass CC-G, 56 notes
Open Diapason 8′ Metal, Bottom octave in case front
Leiblich Gedackt 8′ Metal, bottom octave wood
Dulciana 8′ Metal, bottom octave from L.G.
Principal 4′ Metal
Wald Flute 4′ Wood
Mixture II 15.19 Metal
Swell to Great 8′
Swell Octave to Great 4′
Swell Compass CC-G, 56 notes
Geigen Diapason 8′ Metal, bottom octave wood
Stopped Diapason 8′ Wood
Salicional 8′ Metal, bottom octave from S.D.
Gemshorn 4′ Metal
Twelfth 2 2/3′ Metal
Fifteenth 2′ Metal
Oboe 8′ Metal
Swell Sub Octave 16′
Swell Octave 4′
Pedal Compass CC-F, 30 notes
Bourdon 16′ Wood
Quint 10 2/3′ Extension
Flute Bass 8′ Extension
Octave Quint 5 1/3′ Extension
Octave Flute 4′ Extension
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Swell Octave to Pedal

Balanced Swell Pedal.
4 divisional thumb pistons to Great and Swell.
Swell to Great and Great to Pedal reversable thumb piston.
Great to Pedal reversable toe piston.
Radiating and concave pedal board.

1964 casework, divided each side of the north window in the north transept.

1964 casework, divided each side of the north window in the north transept.