The 1965 Hill, Norman and Beard Organ


History, Concept and Overview 

The organ in St Thomas's dates from the major re-ordering of the church in the mid 1960's, and it has been designed to look and feel part of the furnishings as a whole. Before the refurbishment, which was bequested by Abraham Gibson of Greenwood Lea, the church had a 3-manual organ by the Manchester firm of Jardine & Co., given to the church in 1867 by J.C. Sutcliffe of The Lee. This was sited in the south chancel aisle but no specification has yet been found. The 1960's refurbishment was forward looking and ahead of its time. These qualities, to some degree, can also be found in the 1965 organ.

The organ is a product of the 20th century 'organ reform' movement. This attempted to give modern expression to the design principles underlying organs built in early 18th century Europe, especially in Germany and France. The ideal sound world of the organ reform movement was created from principal (diapason) churuses and characterful reeds; organ actions were preferably mechanical and wind pressures light. A famous achievement of this movement is the great, eclectic, 4-manual Harrison & Harrison organ in the Royal Festival Hall, London (1954).

 Bourdon 16' pipes

 Krummhorm 8', Nachthorn 4' and Principal 8'

The application of organ reform principles in St Thomas's was somewhat selective but basic features, such as the provision of proper choruses on each division and the stop-terminology reflect the movement's ideas.

The organ consists of two manuals and pedals, built in two tone cabinets on an organ gallery mounted in the third bay from the west end. Built by Hill, Norman and Beard of London, it is an 'extension' organ meaning that although it has only 8 true ranks of pipes, these are extended to different pitches to provide 14 speaking stops. In the specification given here, letters indicate parent ranks.


The extension principle can provide variety and range from limited resources, but risks leaving an organ lacking in power and colour. The instrument is featured in Herbert and H. John Norman's book The Organ Today (1966/1980) and suggests the pride the original builders had in their design and creation.

  The console



  The main tone cabinet



National Pipe Organ Register N01613


Great, C-a\3                                 Swell, C-a\3 (enclosed)

Open Diapason 8'-A                         Spitzflute 8'-C

Stopped Diapason 8'-B                    Salicional 8'-D (from c)

Principal 4'-A                                     Gemshorn 4'-C

Chimney Flute 4'-B                           Piccolo 2'-C

Fifteenth 2'-A                                     Quartane II (19:22)-F

Krummhorn 8'-E                               Tremelo


Pedal, C-f\1                                     Couplers

Bourdon 16'-B                                     Swell to Great

Principal 8' (from c)-G                      Great to Pedal

Nachthorn 4'-G                                   Swell to Pedal



3 thumb pistons to Great and Swell; reversible toe stud for Great to Pedal; balanced swell pedal.



Chris O'Gorman

July 2010