The Organs of St John's
The Chamber Organ
The chamber organ used to be in the house organ of a parishioner, Paul Ward, a prominent local solicitor and the Diocesan Registrar for many years. Paul was a leading light in the fundraising for the restoration of the main organ some 20 years ago. When he died he left the chamber organ to Whirlow Grange and when they ceased to use it, his widow Audrey (also a longstanding parishioner) agreed that it should be transferred to St John's in 2008 as we could make good use of it.
This organ is of some historical importance and is an essential component of the music programme at St John’s, fulfilling its completely different role from that of its big brother as a suitable accompanying instrument for period services and performances, a very good teaching tool and, as much smaller instrument more appropriate for use when accompanying smaller and more intimate services. We are very fortunate to have this instrument in addition to the main organ.
The Main Organ
The main organ, a three-manual instrument, is generally considered to be one of the finest pipe organs in the area. It was installed in 1888 by Sheffield builder Brindley and Foster. Their organs were prolific, but since the firms closure in 1939, the instruments are becoming increasingly rare. St John’s has always carefully maintained its organ and there have a number of significant rebuilds over its 130 year history. There was a major refurbishment by Nicholson of Worcester in 1963 and a further rebuild by David Wells of Liverpool in 1997.
The organ is used daily for teaching, professional development of our four staff organists, concerts, recitals and for accompanying our five sung services every week. Being a vital component of our music programme it provides the bedrock upon which our choirs flourish and sing. Indeed, we have many requests from organists across the world to visit St John’s to play (either privately or in public) the main organ.
Organ Restoration Appeal For
Historic Sheffield Organ
In 2012 the PCC requested an independent report which found that there was a considerable programme of work required on the organ. The PCC planned an extended schedule of work over a number of years to restore the organ. However, in autumn 2017 the church had to be closed for 10 months for vital repair to be undertaken to the ceiling. This left the organ idle during a year of incredibly low humidity followed by a heatwave in the summer of 2018. When the church re-opened at the end of August 2018, the organ was found to be unplayable.
The organ has been fully appraised and over £90,000 of work is required to restore the organ. Advice has been sought from the Diocesan Advisory Committee and full permission to proceed with the plan of work has been granted. The programme of work to restore the organ has been accelerated and the full schedule of work is required immediately.
The work includes:
the removal of all pipes (of which there are over 3000) for cleaning and repair of cracked or defective pipes.
the keys and pedals need thoroughly cleaning and the contacts and felt pads need renewing
the swell and choir pedal action have a long-standing fault and it is proposed to replace the existing system with an electronic one
the bellows are to be stripped back and then reconstructed with new leather-work.
As you might have noticed, the work to restore the organ is underway. The organ console and pipes have been removed from church and taken to the organ builders facilities and it is being reinstalled over the autumn. There was an article about the project in the September edition of Inspire which can be found linked below. Our appeal has reached over £60,000 and we are enormously grateful to everyone that has already supported it. The PCC are contributing £25,000 from the spending of a restricted music fund. We hope to resume our fundraising activities later in the year. (updated 10/9/2020)
Learn more about the appeal by downloading our appeal leaflet below and consider making a gift to the restoration using the form below.
Organ Appeal Info Leaflet
Organ Appeal donation form
Inspire 2020 article about the organ appeal can be viewed here
Please hold our organ restoration appeal in your prayers.