The Cathedral Organ
The original cathedral Organ was built by William Hill and Sons in 1882, the current organ was installed in 1927. Major restoration work was undertaken in the 1980's and eleven new ranks were added, including a fanfare trumpet. The Cathedral organ is one of the best romantic instruments of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
The Cathedral Organ may be played from two consoles. The MAIN CONSOLE is situated in the gallery above the choir stalls, on the south side of the Chancel. This is a three manual (61 note compass) and Pedal (30 note), drawstop console, fully equipped with electronic playing aids – combination piston setting ‘capture system.’ Memory banks and registration sequencer (refer Specifications). Although a three manual console, it controls the four divisions of the organ, the Solo division being played from the Choir manual.
The NAVE CONSOLE, on a moveable platform and used on occasions for services and accompaniment work, has an interesting history. It was the original console from the Knox Presbyterian Church in Dunedin, discarded when that organ was rebuilt. It is an original Hill, Norman and Beard console – which company also built the ‘Christie’ cinema organs in England in the 1920s and 30s. The ‘horseshoe’ shaped stop-tab rail is a unique cinema organ feature, and this is probably the only genuine Christie console in New Zealand. The cathedral organ’s full specification and electronic technology are not available on the Nave Console.
Organ Restoration: 1980
For over 50 years the 1927 organ enriched the life and worship of the cathedral. Towards the end of that time, however, the instrument began to show serious signs of wear. By 1978 it was clear that unless extensive repair work was carried out urgently the organ could, within a very short time, become something of a liability. Accordingly the Cathedral Chapter decided to incorporate a rebuild of the organ in the Cathedral Restoration Programme. The work of restoration was entrusted to the South Island Organ Company of Timaru and included:
• the cleaning, repairing and revoicing of pipes
• the overhauling of soundboards, wind chests and reservoirs
• the resiting of some ranks of pipes to enable them to speak to
• the installation of new swell engines to the Swell and Choir boxes
• the addition of 11 new stops, and four previous stops were replaced
• the installation of new solid-state note-switching, coupling and adjustable piston action.
The completed organ has 64 speaking stops, two stops from the 1927 organ having been removed to make way for new ranks.
A special feature of the rebuilt organ is a Fanfare Trumpet stop, the pipes of which extend horizontally from the organ loft into the north transept above the vestry doors. The stop has been donated by the family of the late Dr and Mrs J C Bradshaw as a memorial to the couple. Dr Bradshaw was organist of the cathedral from 1902 to 1937.
Organ Overhaul: 2005
The instrument was overhauled in 2005, a humidifier installed, pitch raised to a440, pipes cleaned, blower motor re-conditioned and wind noise reduced. The work was undertaken by the South Island Organ Company. The organ was out of action for three months, being re-commissioned in August.
22 February 2011 Earthquake
The Cathedral is presently closed having suffered massive damage during the 2011 earthquake. The state of the Cathedral organ is presently unknown. It is too dangerous to enter the Cathedral and carry out an assessment at this time however, plans are underway to try and make the building safe for entry. We hope, in the near future to post updates on the current condition of the organ.