The first organ of St David’s Cathedral was a small instrument of one manual built by John Gray of London in 1823. Although the original Georgian cathedral building was not large, the organ was probably soon felt to be inadequate to accompany the hymn-singing of its congregation.

In 1858 it was moved to St Matthew’s Anglican church Rokeby (now an eastern-shore suburb of Hobart). This fine instrument, the oldest in the country, retains its original free-standing case and is still playing, modernized only with an electric blower.

Its successor at St David’s was an instrument of two manuals and pedals built by another famous London firm, Bishop and Starr. A small amount of its pipework (notably nos. 6, 7 and 10 of the specification below) has been retained in the present instrument.

Moved into the new and larger cathedral church in 1874, it remained unaltered until 1909. In that year, and again in 1916, it was enlarged by the Melbourne firm of George Fincham & Sons.

A third manual was added, the action converted to tubular pneumatic, and most of the earlier pipework replaced. Still, however, written records from the next few decades indicate that dissatisfaction was felt with the organ’s ability to lead a large congregation.

In 1958 a major rebuilding was undertaken by J. W. Walker & Sons. The action was converted to electro-pneumatic, a new blower provided, and the console moved from the organ case to the south side of the choir.

Most of the existing pipework was retained unaltered, but there were substantial additions to all departments, including high-pressure reeds available on the Great, Choir and Pedal. The organ now occupied all three bays of the north choir aisle, with a new case-front.

Between 1999 and 2005 substantial tonal renovation was carried out by the local firm of Gibbs & Thomson, with a view to improving the organ’s projection, coherence and versatility.

The specification is little changed, but much rescaling and revoicing have been undertaken: in particular, the Great and Swell Mixtures and all the Choir pipework have been remodelled, the reedwork revoiced, and the Pedal Open Wood rescaled.

The result is an instrument still in the English romantic tradition, but with the ability to make sense of music from the German baroque and French romantic and modern traditions.

SPECIFICATION

GREAT

1. 16′ Contra Geigen
2. 8′ Open Diapason no. 1
3. 8′ Open Diapason no. 2
4. 8′ Geigen
5. 8′ Clarabel (Mid. C)
6. 8′ Stopped Diapason
7. 4′ Octave
8. 4′ Principal
9. 4′ Flute
10. 2′ Fifteenth
11. II Quartane
12. III Mixture
13. 8′ Horn
14. 8′ Tromba
15. 8′ Trumpet

SWELL

16. 8′ Open Diapason
17. 8′ Stopped Diapason
18. 8′ Viola da Gamba
19. 8′ Celeste (tenor C)
20. 4′ Suabe flute
21. 4′ Principal
22. 2′ Fifteenth
23. 1 1/3 Larigot
24. III Mixture
25. 16′ Contra Fagotto
26. 8′ Oboe
27. 8′ Cornopean
28. 4′ Clarion
Tremulant

CHOIR

29. 16′ Lieblich Bourdon
30. 8′ Gedackt
31. 8′ Dulciana
32. 4′ Flauto Traverso
33. 4′ Gemshorn
34. 2 2/3′ Nazard
35. 2′ Flautino
36. 1 3/5 Tierce
37. 8′ Clarinet
38. 8′ Tromba
39. 8′ Trumpet
Tremulant

PEDAL

40. 16′ Open Wood
41. 16′ Contra Geigen
42. 16′ Bourdon
43. 16′ Echo Bourdon
44. 10 2/3 Quint
45. 8′ Octave
46. 8′ Principal
47. 8′ Bass Flute
48. 5 1/3 Octave Quint
49. 4′ Fifteenth
50. 4′ Octave Flute
51. 16′ Contra Fagotto
52. 16′ Trombone
53. 8′ Tromba
54. 8′ Oboe

COUPLERS

Sw. to Gr., Sw. to Ch., Sw. to Ped.
Gr. to Ped.
Ch. to Gr., Ch. to Ped.
Sw. Octave, Suboctave & Unison off
Ch. Octave, Suboctave & Unison off.

ACCESSORIES

Thumb pistons: 6 each to Sw., Gr. and Ch.; Sw. to Gr., Sw. to Ped., Gr. to Ped., 3 generals, Gen. cancel.

Toe pistons: 6 each to Sw. and Gr.: Gr. to Ped.; 3 generals.

Listen to the Organ

Our former organist, Rod Thomson, has released a CD of 17th and 18th century choral preludes played on the Cathedral Organ.

Click here for more information.