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The Church Organ

The new church of St. Thomas was built in 1911, but prior to this a harmonium was used in the old church, which in 1882 was replaced by a second-hand organ of 2 manuals, enlarged by T.C. Lewis of Brixton, South London.

By 1905 this organ had deteriorated beyond effective use despite repairs in 1902, so a new organ was built at a cost of £300 by Nicholson & Co. of Worcester which was supplied with a hydraulic blower costing £60. The organ was originally dedicated on St Thomas's day, 1905, and was subsequently moved to the new church when it was opened.

It was very much an instrument of its time with what might be described as "floods of 8ft tone": there were no mutations, mixtures or stops above 4ft pitch, and there was only one reed stop; it had 2 manuals and pedals with 18 speaking stops.

 

The specification of this organ was as follows:

Compass: Manual: 58 notes, Pedal: 30 notes

GREAT SWELL
Large Open Diapason 8 Bourdon 16
Open Diapason 8 Violin Diapason 8
Dulciana 8 Viol d'Orchestre 8
Clarabella 8 Lieblich Gedact 8
Principal 4 Voix Celeste 8
Harmonic Flute 4 Gemshorn 4
Cornopean 8 Octave  
Swell to Great      
PEDAL   AIDS TO REGISTRATION  
Contra Bass 16    
Large Bourdon 16    
Small Bourdon 16 3 composition pedals to Great & Pedal  
Octave 8 3 composition pedals to Swell  
Bass Flute 8 1 additional composition Pedal  
Great to Pedal      
Swell to Pedal      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1933 further work on the organ was made possible by a gift given in memory of a son lost during the Great War. The unusual oak casework was added, having been designed by Henry Sidebotham, son of the first vicar of the parish. The gift was sufficient to allow the addition of a Great Diapason No 2, Pedal Diapason and electric blowing equipment - which is housed in its own "shed" on the roof of the vestry. This work was carried out by Roger Yates of Nottingham.

Despite some minor tonal work during the intervening period, the organ retained its basic sound for almost 60 years until an extensive rebuild in 1964 by Cedric Arnold, Williamson & Hyatt of Thaxted, Essex, guided by the then organist, Vincent James.

Once again, the rebuild reflected the prevailing styles of the period with the sound of the instrument changing radically from its previous solidity to a new spikiness. This was obviously quite pronounced as one of the reports obtained for the subsequent rebuild refers to "taming the swell mixture". The stoplist grew to 29 speaking stops thanks, in part, to a little borrowing and extension work, particularly on the pedal. At this time a tremulant was added to the swell.

Compass: Manual: 58 notes, Pedal: 30 notes

GREAT   SWELL  
Quintaten 16 (c) Clarinet Flute 8
Open Diapason 8 Salicional 8
Stopped Flute 8 (b) Gemshorn 4
Principal 4 Superoctave 2
Quintaten 4 (c) Larigot 1 1/3
Twelth 2 2/3 Mixture (22.26.29) III
Fifteenth 2 Bassett Horn 16
Tierce 1 3/5 Cornopean 8 (d)
Mixture (19.22) II Clarion 4 (d)
Swell to Great   Tremulant

 

PEDAL  
Open Metal 16 (a)
Sub Bass 16 (b)
Quintaten 16 (c)
Principal 8 (a)
Bass Flute 8 (b)
Fifteenth 4 (a)
Quintaten 2 (c)
Mixture (19.22) 11 (a)
Posaune I6 (d)
Cornopean 8 (d)
Clarion 4 (d)
Great to Pedal  
Swell to Pedal  

The current instrument dates from 1990 when the original manufacturers, Nicholson & Co, rebuilt the instrument under the instruction of the then Director of Music, David Gabe. This work allowed a number of additions including the Great Trumpet, Swell Vox Angelica and Great tremulant as well as the re-making of all of the mixtures and casting of new pipework for the Swell Cornopean/ Clarion.

As well as these tonal changes the tracker action was remade, electric stop action was introduced and multi-channel settable pistons were added. Although the instrument still maintains much of its predecessor's character, the harsh edge has been removed resulting in a classical organ with a light action that is well suited to both accompanying services and playing some of the great French organ works.

Whilst necessarily limited by its size, judicious use of the modern piston action can result in much more flexibility than the paper specification would suggest. In 2004 the original multi-channel board was replaced by a new solid-state one, thus enhancing further the quality of the instrument.

GREAT   SWELL  
Open Diapason 8 Gedeckt 8
Stopped Diapason 8 Salicional 8
Principal 4 Vox Angelica 8*
Nason Flute 4 Gemshorn 4
Twelfth 2 2/3 Octave 2
Fifteenth 2 Mixture III-IV
Seventeenth 1 3/5 Bassett Horn 16
Mixture III Cornopean 8*
Trumpet 8* Clarion 4*
Swell To Great, Tremulant*   Tremulant  
PEDAL   ACCESSORIES  
Open Diapason 16 Great and Pedal Pistons Coupled  
Quintaten 16 General to Swell Toe Pistons  
Sub Bass 16 8 channel memory system  
Principal 8 6 thumb pistons to Great  
Bass Flute 8 6 thumb pistons to Swell  
Fifteenth 4 6 thumb pistons to General  
Mixture II 6 toe pistons to Pedal  
Posaune 16 6 toe pistons to Swell  
Cornopean 8 Usual Reversers  
Clarion 4    
Swell to Pedal, Great to Pedal      

* Added in 1990