The organ – read by Rose Hoey

I hope you enjoyed the sound of this wonderful organ.

You see in front of you the organ of St Thomas’ church, although it was not here from the beginning.

When the original chapel opened here in 1736, a barrel organ from a local pub was ‘borrowed’ on a Sunday for use in services.

However, on March 25th 1810, this ‘outstanding’ new organ replaced the barrel organ. It was situated in a gallery at the back of the church, and it was blown manually (pumping air through the pipes). By 1814 public subscriptions had been raised to pay for the new organ and its gallery. The organ is built of Spanish mahogany, and was installed by George Pike England, apparently an artist of repute at the time.

In June 1861 a grand evening concert was held to assist the new organ fund. An overhaul and tuning then took place, costing £153 and10 shillings.

In 1890, the organ was removed and placed behind you on the opposite side of the choir stalls. Shortly after this – around 1911/1912 – the organ was converted to an electrically blown tubular pneumatic action, allowing compressed air through the tubes, no longer requiring manual operation.

From 1932 to 1936 a small organ was borrowed, to use while yet another relocation took place, and the organ was moved across to its current position. Since that time, regular, additional overhauls have taken place (in 1958 and 1971) and in 2008/2009 the keyboard was replaced. The organ is still used each week for services, and for organ concerts from time to time.

In 1998 Organ Scholarships were established, and many St Thomas’ organ scholars have moved on to interesting and musical careers.