The Organ at St. Mary’s

The organ at St. Mary's

The organ at St. Mary’s

St Mary’s is blessed with a very fine and beautiful pipe organ. Records of its origin are missing, but it was probably built soon after St Mary’s was consecrated in 1885, by the then renowned organ firm W. G. Vowles of Bristol. It had a tracker action (that is, entirely mechanical) and fourteen speaking stops.

In the 1920s or 30s the organ was repaired and restored by Charles Richard Gill, who took the decision to replace the aged tracker action with pneumatic; a decision which was regretted by later tuners, who testified that the tracker action was probably reparable, and certainly preferable to the flawed pneumatic action that was then, briefly, in vogue. This renovation also saw the addition of pistons and of two new stops: a loud 8’ Cornopean (a type of trumpet) on the Swell and an 8’ Bass Flute on the Pedal (an extension of the existing 16’ Bourdon, which had until then been the only stop on the pedals).

Ever wondered what the inside of a pipe organ looks like?

Ever wondered what the inside of a pipe organ looks like?

Gill’s work eventually proved insufficient, and in the 1960s Rushworth & Dreaper were charged with a second renovation. The pneumatic action was retained and repaired, and the decision was taken to replace the Swell Voix Celeste with a Fifteenth, and the Great Clarinet with a Twelfth, resulting in the organ’s present registration, and with approximately 900 pipes.

In 2001 Roger Taylor (formerly of Rushworth & Dreaper but by then working independently) undertook a much needed third renovation, in which he re-leathered the bellows, fitted a Solid State Logic Capture System and replaced the failing pneumatic action with an electronic one. This last restoration has guaranteed the continued life of the organ.

In recent years, issues with the central heating (which affects the humidity of the building) and water influx from the heavens, have caused considerable damage to the organ. Roger Taylor, who had maintained the organ for decades, retired in 2012 and Nicholson & Co. of Malvern (famous for their recent construction of the new organ at Llandaff Cathedral) has begun plans on a fourth renovation. This much-needed work will involve replacement of much of the wooden fabric of the instrument, and cleaning and repair of all the 900-or-so pipes.

Organ Specification:

Open Diapason 8
Dulciana 8
Clarabella 8
Principal 4
Flute 4
Fifteenth 2
Twelfth 2 2/3
Swell (enclosed)
Open Diapason 8
Gamba 8
Lieblich Gedact 8
Principal 4
Fifteenth 2
Cornopean 8
Oboe 8
Bourdon 16
Bass Flute 8
Swell to Pedal
Swell to Great
Swell octave to Great
Swell suboctave to Great
Swell octave
Swell suboctave
Great to Pedal