My Keyboard Lessons Visits Rochester Cathedral
My Keyboard Lessons recently took a trip to Rochester to visit the cathedral and hear the impressive cathedral organ. The current organist Roger Sayer played a spectacular piece to demonstrate the power and capabilities of this instrument that still has sections that are over 200 years old.
The oldest pipes of the current organ date back to an organ built by Samuel Green in 1791. This instrument was in a case centred on the screen, and consisted of 23 ranks over 3 manuals.
The organ survived for over forty years, and was enlarged by William Hill in 1835. This work involved the addition of pedals and of two ranks of pipes. Hill & Son made further changes in 1865 and 1870, resulting in a 33-rank instrument, with 3 manuals and pedals.
The organ as it stood in 1875 was then moved, by J.W. Walker & Sons, into a new case designed by Gilbert Scott, which still stands today as the main body, either side of the screen. A year later, Forster & Andrews organ builders provided new pipes for the case, replacing some dummy pipes installed by Walker’s firm.
Minor changes and additions occurred in the next ten years, and repairs were carried out as the organ deteriorated. After nearly ten years of persuasion, a new organ by J.W. Walker & Sons was built in 1905, incorporating several ranks from the previous instrument. This 40-rank, 3-manual organ remained without major alteration for more than 50 years.
In 1957 the organ was rebuilt by J.W. Walker & Sons, which included electrifying the action and several other alterations. These made for a very colourful instrument, but also one which was too big to maintain in such a small space.
This led to a major rebuild in 1989 by Mander Organs, which involved adding a new choir organ case (in the centre on the Quire side). The mechanics were entirely new, and just over half of the pipes were new. The console’s electronics were repaired and upgraded in 2006.