The Organ

resizeuwaThe first reference to an organ in Ripon Cathedral occurs in the Fabric Rolls for 1399. The present-day, four-manual organ contains two ranks from a 1690 organ.

Its history really begins, however, in 1878, when it was almost entirely built from scratch by T. C. Lewis of Brixton. Costing the grand sum of £4,000 without the case, this organ was undoubtedly one of the finest of its day. By 1912, however, it required extensive rebuilding: the stops were too loud and an appalling noise was issuing from the engines and bellows. The organ was therefore essentially rebuilt between 1912 and 1926, by Harrison and Harrison of Durham (completion of the work being significantly delayed by the outbreak of the First World War).

Since then, various additions and modifications have been made to the Ripon Cathedral organ: in 1963, 1972, 1988, 1996 and most recently, 2000. The 1996 additions included the horizontal Solo Orchestral Trumpet and a new eight-channel solid-state combination system.

In 2000 a new mobile console in the Nave was presented to the Cathedral by a generous benefactor. This console utilises the latest digital technology, and duplicates the console on the Screen but with many additional features.

These include a MIDI interface, a Manual Exchange and Pedal Divide stops, and separate sequencer and general pistons stepper.
Finally, the organ case at Ripon was designed by Sir Gilbert Scott. One particularly unusual feature of it is a unique, carved wooden hand. This used to be used to conduct the choir, via a lever at the organ console. It was added to the case in 1695, when a rebuild of the organ then meant that the organist had to move to a new seat from where he could not conduct the choir himself.

In 2013 a complete overhaul of the organ took place. During the project the instrument was completely dismantled and cleaned, new blowing equipment installed for the pedal organ, and both consoles were modernised. The work was carried out by Harrison & Harrison of Durham.

A specification for the organ (current at April 2013) may be downloaded here.

Joe PriestleyThe Organ