History of the Organ

The organ in St George’s has a special place in the heart of those who know it to listen to or to play. It is a fine instrument worthy of the grand title Mozart once gave the organ, ‘The King of Instruments’.

It was originally built and installed in February 1897 by Forster & Andrews of Hull as a large three manual organ of 52 stops. The specification of the organ was provided by Dr John Naylor, Organist of York Minster. The fine casework, which continues to serve as the housing for the organ, was designed by the architect of the church, Austin & Paley of Lancaster, with the console facing the north side of the case.

In 1935 the instrument was rebuilt and enlarged by John Compton Organ Company. The action, originally tubular-pneumatic, was converted to the latest electric action, and a new console was provided with the trademark luminous stop control of Compton’s, placed at the east end of the chancel, its present position. A fourth manual was added and the stop list now totalled 107 speaking stops, although several of these were based on the extension principle and borrowed from other ranks.

Apart from some cleaning work and general repairs in 1951, the organ was largely unaltered from the 1935 rebuild. By 1978 it was in desperate need of work, with many parts simply having worn out and the rest showing signs of a busy life. A committee was formed to raise the necessary money and in 1981 the work was undetaken by Rushworth & Dreaper. The specification was returned to that of the Forster & Andrews organ. The console was reconditioned with traditional stopheads and reduced from four to three manuals. The original ranks of pipes from the Forster & Andrews organ were in fine condition and only needed cleaning in order to return them to their full glory. Following a service of rededication on the 1st May 1981, the Inaugural Recital was given by Dr George Thalben-Ball, CBE on Tuesday 12th May 1981.

The organ continues to play an important part in the life of St George’s, leading the worship and accompanying the numerous choirs and groups that come to perform and play in the church. However, its age is showing and once again plans are forming for the next stage in the life of this magnificent instrument. An organ restoration fund has been established in support of our organ.

Organists of St George’s

1897-1908 Herbert Wild, FRCO
1908-1945 Harold Dawber, Hon.FRMCM, FRCO
1945-1951 Laurence West, DMus, FRCO, LRAM
1951-1956 Harold Dawber, Hon.FRMCM, FRCO
1956-1976 Arthur Rooke, FRCO, LRAM
1976-1997 Michael English, FRCO(CHM), ADCM, LRAM, ARCM, LTCL
1997-1998 Andrew Dean
1998-2001 Roger Briscoe
2001-2006 David Scott-Thomas
2007-2008 Philip Asher, BMus(Hons)/Grad RNCM, PGCE, ARCO
2008-2017 John Horton, BA (Hons), PGCE
2018- James Hibbert


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