The Organ At The Minster

Dewsbury Minster has a long established musical tradition. There is still evidence on the Tower wall of a Georgian Musician’s Gallery. Installed in 1850, it necessitated the raising of the roof and the clerestory windows.

Bronte OrganThe earliest known organ in Dewsbury Parish Church (now The Minster) is preserved in St. Luke’s House, Oaks Road, Soothill, Batley (formerly St. Luke’s Church, Soothill). This was during Patrick Bronte’s time as a curate here 1809 -11. There was once a plaque on it, now missing, stating that the father of the famous ‘Bronte Sisters’ played this organ,

It was a 1 manual instrument with:

  • Large Open Diapason
  • Open Diapason
  • Stop Diapason
  • Dulciana
  • Gemshorn
  • Bourdon
  • Great to Pedals
  • Octave.

Henry Willis of London installed an organ here in 1896 at a cost of £2000. He had never seen such fine provision made for an organ. He felt its position, in what is now the Refectory, was superior to any other he had known and so he donated one Stop to the Church! Harrison and Harrison of Durham in 1920 did a complete rebuild of the Willis Organ at which time the Choir Organ was enclosed. This was considered to be the finest organ in the whole of the Heavy Woollen District of Yorkshire.

Willis OrganIn 1978 the church was reordered. Worship ceased in the East End and the Willis Organ was resited and rebuilt, unsuccessfully, where the Paulinus Chapel now stands. As a result it was decided to install a Bradford Computer Organ in the early 90s. This proved very satisfactory and gave good service. However, as it was a demonstration model and already ten years old on installation, most of its technology had become obsolete. Its restoration became cost prohibitive and its built in obsolescence threatened major future expenditure, so a solution had to be found.

St Marks OrganIn 2004, The Minster grasped a unique opportunity to save 138 years of local heritage. It was an organ undoubtedly played by Wallace Hartley, a local parishioner and famous Bandmaster on the Titanic (commemoration in the Heritage Centre). This instrument was in danger of being scrapped or sold out of the area from the former St. Marks Church, Dewsbury. Originally built by Booth and Co. Wakefield in 1866 as a two manual, it was rebuilt in 1929 by Peter Conacher and Co Ltd., of Huddersfield with 3 manuals and 31 speaking stops.

Up until 1999, this significant, quality organ had an excellent service history, under the care of J.M.Spink Organ Builders of Leeds. Its affordability, its promise of reliability for generations to come and the unprecedented local support, gave The Minster the will to commission J.M.Spink to bring it to the Minster until sufficient funds would allow for its restoration and reinstallation from 2006-7.

The organ was placed to the rear, under the South Aisle’s east archway, to minimise the fragmentation of the Worship Area. An electro pneumatic action and a detached consol now facilitate our acclaimed instrumental and choral integration. A new Tromba Unit at 16’, 8’ and 4’ pitch has also been added – increasing the resources of this comprehensive instrument, and creating an instrument worthy of its predecessor, the famous Willis Organ.

Organists who would like to sample the delights of this instrument may contact Stephen Parker (via the Parish Office) .

ORGAN SPECIFICATION

PEDAL

1 Harmonic Base 32 quint from No.2
2 Open Diapason 16
3 Bourdon 16
4 Echo Bourdon 16
5 Quint 10 2/3 from No.3
6 Octave Bass 8 from No.2
7 Flute Bass 8 from No.3
8 Octave Quint 5 1/5 from No.3
9 Fifteenth 4 from No.2
10 Flute 4 from No.3
11 Trombone 16
12 Tromba 8 from No.11
13 Octave Tromba 4 from No.11
14 Swell to Pedal
15 Great to Pedal
16 Choir to Pedal

GREAT

17 Bourdon 16
18 Large Open Diapason 8
19 Small Open Diapason 8
20 Stopped Diapason 8
21 Dolce 8
22 Principal 4
23 Hohl Flute 4
24 Fifteenth 2
25 Mixture III
26 Trumpet 8
27 ContraTromba 16 from No.11
28 Tromba 8 from No.11
29 Great Octave
30 Swell to Great
31 Swell Sub to Great
32 Swell Oct to Great
33 Choir to Great

SWELL

34 Bourdon 16
35 Open Diapason 8
36 Rohr Flöte 8
37 Salicional 8
38 Voix Celeste 8
39 Principal 4
40 Fifteenth 2
41 Mixture II
42 Trumpet 8
43 Oboe 8
44 Tremulant
45 Swell Sub Octave
46 Swell Octave
47 Swell Unison Off

CHOIR

48 Stopped Diapason 8
49 Salicional 8
50 Viol d’Orchestre 8
51 Wald Flute 8
52 Spitz Flute 2
53 Clarinet 8
54 Tremulant
55 Contra Tromba 16 from No.11
56 Tromba 8 from No.11
57 Octave Tromba 4 from No.11
58 Choir  Sub Octave
59 Choir Octave
60 Swell to Choir
61 Swell Sub to Choir
62 Swell Octave to Choir
63 Cymbelstern

PISTONS

6  Generals
6  Swell
6  Swell  (toe)
6  Great
6  Choir
6  Pedal  (toe)
Sw to Ped reverser
Gt to Ped reverser  (thumb and toe)
Ch to Ped reverser
Sw to Gt reverser   (thumb and toe)
Sw to Ch reverser
Ch to Gt reverser
Gt Tromba  reverser
Set
General Cancel

ACCESSORIES

Great and Pedal Combs Coupled switch
Swell Toe Pistons to Generals switch
Tromba Ventil switch
MIDI IN     socket
MIDI OUT socket
Disk-drive for Record and Playback

Organist

Stephen Parker has been trained by: –

  • Keith Senior (Organ)- formerly of Ossett Parish Church
  • John Kinsley (Piano)
  • Jonathan Lilley (Organ) – formerly of Leeds Parish Church currently of Ely Cathedral.
  • Phillip Tordoff (Organ) – Halifax Parish Church.