- Book on The Organ
The organ now seen to the south side of the chancel is not the Church's first. The original organ was installed in 1837 and was located in the west gallery. Little is known about it other than the Parish Magazine of 1863 records that since its installation, the organ had been raised by eighteen inches and thrown back by some three feet to allow space for another row of choristers seats. The article goes on to note that the organ was in the best position for appearance but for transmission of sound it stands too high. An article which appeared in the local press in 1881 stated that "the mechanism was bad and the pipes , which were of almost pure lead, would not stay in tune and began to "fall out".
The replacement was installed by Jardine & Co. of Manchester. The contract provided for a completely new manual and pedal organ to be placed behind the old organ case, built to the design of the then organist of the Church, Alderman A G. Leigh. It was completed in July 1881. There is evidence that the old organ case was "late Samuel Renn". The organ-building firm of Renn and Boston was very active in the North of England, Lancashire and Yorkshire especially, at that time and it has been discovered that Samuel Renns records contain the entry, Chorley Parish Chapel, 1837. The firm of Renn and Boston eventually became Jardine and Company.
When extensive modifications to the interior of the Church were undertaken in 1891 / 1892 the decision was taken to remove the organ to its present position , the chancel being formed as part of the alterations together with the provision of the choir stalls. The cost of relocating the organ was £211.11s and the opening recital was given by the organist of Manchester cathedral, J Kendrick Pyne on 27 February 1892.
In 1934 the tracker action was removed and an electric blower was installed, to replace the old water -pressure apparatus. No alterations were made to the tonal scheme at this time and the brochure or the re-opening concert, given by Paul Rochard of Lancaster Priory, records that the organ then contained 2042 pipes. In 1951 a modest overhaul was carried out to keep it going for a period of some ten years after which it was hoped to install a new action and make improvements in the tonal scheme. It was 1968 before this ambition was to be realised. In major alterations by John Cowin Ltd of Liverpool, working in collaboration with the then organist and choirmaster Mr J A H Dickinson the organ was considerably enlarged. Much of the additional pipework was taken from a magnificent four manual organ built in 1894 by William Hill, a giant among organ builders. The result is that the organ now contains 3189 pipes with 79 drawstops. At this time the console was detached from the rest of the instrument and a new one located at the rear of the pulpit, from where the organist can hear the instrument more effectively. An interesting result of the Cowin Dickinson collaboration is that while the organ now has four divisions it has but three manuals with the fourth division playable on any of the three manuals. Dedication of the re-built organ was by the Bishop of Burnley, Rt Rev G Holderness, on 1 February 1968 when a recital was given by Dr Francis Jackson, Organist and Master of Choristers, York Minster.
In 1991, due to damage to the Great Organ and Swell Organ sound boards caused by malfunctioning of the church's heating system, further re-building and cleaning work was undertaken by David Wells Organ Builders of Liverpool. In this, the console was modernised, with micro-electronic controls installed and with the simplification of future maintenance ensured. (The errant heating control system has also been computerised). The re-opening recital following this work was by Professor lan Tracey, Organist and Master of Choristers of Liverpool Cathedral, on 6 November 1991. St George's is fortunate in having a very fine instrument which is suitable for organ works of any period or type.
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St George’s Church
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