In 1847 The church was expanded eastwards by a bay to both give a larger chapel area, and create the area beyond the present pulpit. When first built this would have been for an orchestra and choir. However, as part of a rapid change in church music in the mid-nineteenth century, in 1858 a two manual organ was installed. This was bought from Groves and Mitchell of London, who had incorporated casework that came from St Margaret’s Church, Leicester, where it had been installed in 1772 and for some time was regarded as the work of Father Smith. More recently it is thought to be the work of Christopher Shrider in the period 1710 – 1720. The casework remains as the central portion of what is now a much larger church organ.
trail pics old organ console
The organ has been expanded on a number of occasions, including an extension to the ‘Swell Organ’ in 1869 and the addition of a third manual, the ‘Choir Organ’, in 1878. The most significant renovation was by Hill, Norman & Beard (‘Organ Builders to King George V’) in 1936. Electro-pneumatic action provided a much lighter touch for the keyboard and at the same time the console, originally sited centrally as an integral part of the original organ casework, was replaced by a new detached console in Hill Norman and Beard’s cinematic design. In place of the traditional banks of stops on the left and right of the manuals there were tabs or stop keys arranged in a semi-circular horse shoe design, the tabs being grouped from left to right for Pedal, Swell, Great and Choir respectively. The fretwork panels either side of the original casework were added to cater for the extra rows of pipes needed for the fourteen new stops in the expanded instrument, which also allowed all of the casework to be set further back.
trail pics organ console
In 1970 the organ received a major overhaul, but has had no significant repair work since then. With the wear and tear on the many leather elements within the instrument, currently around a third of the stops are not working. A recent report indicated that unless urgent work is carried out the organ will soon become unplayable. During our bi-centenary, 2015-16, it is hoped to restore the organ and take the opportunity to restore the casework where the display pipes are tarnished having been last painted in 1936. The total cost of the work is around £92,000. The church has been able to allocate some resources to this, and is busy fund raising for more, and is making grant applications to various bodies in an attempt to get it back to a sustainable condition and full playability.