The Organ at St John’s
The organ was built by Henry Willis (Father Willis) in 1897 in the organ chamber on the North side of the chancel. The instrument had three manuals of 58 notes each, a thirty note pedal board and a ‘trigger’ swell pedal. The console was a standard attached draw stop console of the period, the action being pneumatic with a mechanical stop mechanism. The wind was provided by two hand blowers. There were twenty-four manual stops, four pedal stops and some 1600 pipes.
Early in the 20th century (around 1912), the blowing mechanism was converted to an hydraulic mechanism and during the 1930s the blowing mechanism was electrified. Apart from minor repairs and regular tuning, the organ remained untouched until 1968 when it was rebuilt by Hill & Son and Norman & Beard Ltd.
In 1968 a new detached draw stop console was provided, situated at the south side of the chancel and incorporating the original Willis ivory keys and draw stop knobs. A balanced swell pedal was linked to the organ by a cable running under the chancel floor, and electro-pneumatic action on 24 volts. The original wind chests were renovated and reused. One or two minor modifications were made to the tonal specification but the pitch, although being low, was not raised.
There are now eight stops on the Great Organ, nine on the Swell, six on the Choir and six on the Pedal Organ. There are ten couplers making a total of thirty-three registers. The usual toe and thumb pistons are provided and there are two general thumb pistons.
More recently, between 1989 and 1994, the organ was thoroughly cleaned by Keith Scudamore and some electrical parts were replaced. Underactions were refurbished, the pedal-board overhauled, new stop knob solenoids fitted and a new rectifier installed to provide increased power to the console ancillary function. The Great Flue wind pressure was raised to 4" so that the concussion bellows were properly inflated.
It continues to be regarded as one of the finest organs in the area.