As part of our Cameras Project, we had to run some cables through the organ loft, and this gave us a chance to take some photographs from rarely-seen angles inside the organ case itself. We asked our director of music Giles to talk us through what the pictures show.

Although you can see fifteen of the organ pipes from the church floor, the instrument itself extends right the way back into the tower and contains over a thousand pipes (1,350 to be exact) measuring from a few inches to several feet. It also contains bellows, piping, and hundreds of wires to connect the console to the valves, which control the airflow. The organ even uses part of the floor above, which holds the pump to fill the bellows with air.

This photo is taken from just to one side of the console, with part of its casing removed. The narrow access corridor on the left leads to the tower steps, and has a set of wooden pipes running its length. At the bottom right hand side of the photograph are the back of the organ stop mechanisms. The grey-coloured corrugated tubing in the centre of this photograph carries the air from one of the bellows to one particular set of organ pipes.
These are the electro-magnets that operate the six ‘couplers’. Each of these couplers does a different job – for example, one of the couplers enables any stops selected on one of the manuals (keyboards) to also be played on the pedalboard. Another coupler enables the sounds on every key of one of the manuals (keyboards) to also play an extra note (at the same time) which is one octave higher. There are no computer chips or integrated circuits here – everything is copper wiring, soldered into place by hand.
In the foreground are some of the metal ‘diapason’ organ pipes, which give that familiar ‘church organ’ sound. In the background is a large enclosed wooden box which contains different ranks of organ pipes. By being placed in this enclosed space the volume of the sound produced by these organ pipes can be increased by opening the wooden louvre shutters (which you can see in the photograph) or decreased by closing the shutters.
A photograph showing several ranks of organ pipes. These pipes range in length from two inches up to sixteen feet at their longest. You can also see in the background on the left hand side of the photograph some of the wooden organ pipes which produce the soft flute-like sounds you may hear from time to time.

The organ itself mostly dates from 1931, but some of the pipes were originally made for an earlier organ built in 1869. The electronic parts were added in 1982, replacing an entirely mechanical set of linkages, and most recently in 2010 the entire instrument was repaired and rebuilt.

If you’re interested in helping us take care of the organ, then the best way is to send a donation and drop us a note saying that you’d like it to go towards our organ fund. We use this to cover the costs of annual maintenance and ongoing repairs, and to save towards future upgrades as the organ enters its 90th year of making music.