The Church Organs
“It is always a joy to play the little giant at St. Augustine’s; it is so resourceful and flexible for such a small instrument, and tackles music of all schools equally well.”
Professor Dr Ian Tracey, Organist Titulaire, Liverpool Anglican Cathedral
The pipe organ was built by Hele & Co in 1911 and opened Hubert Hunt, organist of Bristol Cathedral, Hubert Hunt. It was a two manual and pedal instrument with pneumatic action and 12 speaking stops. There were two combination pedals to great and swell organs. While the pipe organ was sufficient for accompanying a choir, it was inefficient at leading larger congregations due to the lack of brighter sounding stops.
In 2003, following years of very little maintenance, the end of the pipe organ’s life was evident, and got to the point of needing many thousands of pounds of repairs. It would have been a burden on the congregation to try and find this amount of money.
The majority of pipework and action has now been removed as it was beginning to collapse. Some parts will be re-used in existing instruments where they can be. We have put on display the largest of the Dulciana pipes near the new organ console. Some of the large pedal pipes are now stored in the old organ loft, and on the west gallery. The front display pipes remain in situ.
A plea was placed in the Swindon Evening Advertiser. The plea was seen by Ann Coventry, wife of the late Macdonald Coventry, a former local organist. Ann, kindly donated his practice instrument from home to the church.
The new organ is far superior to the old pipe organ and is extremely versatile – and is capable accommodating most musical styles. It consists of two manuals and pedals and has 33 speaking stops as well as a wide range of playing aids.
It is fitting, that as with the pipe organ, the new organ was officially opened by a cathedral organist! The opening recital given by Professor Dr Ian Tracey of Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral was a very worthy addition to the musical history of this church. Professor Tracey has played at the church five times since the organ’s installation.
You can download a PDF of the organ history and the specification of both the organs below.
Organ history and specification
You can find out about the church organists by clicking here.
Next Section: Choir History