The Church Organ
Our Church Organ
Every organ is unique in that it must suit the acoustics and architecture of the room that houses it and St John’s organ is no different in this respect.
The Instrument's History
Originally, the instrument was built by Hill, Norman and Beard and was purchased by a local ship-owner, the late Bertram Pardoe Thomas, who installed it in his house at “Pardoeham” in Fields Park Road, Newport.
During the fire, the organ, which had been housed in the north transept, was destroyed along with all the fittings, including the beautiful wood-carved reredos depicting The Last Supper.
While the church was rebuilt, services continued in the Parish Hall in Victoria Avenue accompanied by a harmonium and later a small electronic organ was used when the church reopened.
In 1957 “Pardoeham” was put up for sale and the Vicar, the late Canon John Stephens, negotiated with the owners to purchase the organ. Messrs Hele of Plymouth sent an expert to inspect the organ at “Pardoeham” and he reported that, with the addition of certain stops, the organ would be most suitable for use in St. John’s. The organ was purchased and removed to St. John’s where it was installed in the north transept.
The original pneumatic action was replaced by electro-pneumatic action and the following stops were added:
Great Organ: Principal 4ft; Fifteenth 2ft; Claribel Flute 8ft
Choir Organ: Concert Flute 4ft
Swell Organ: Geigen Principal 8ft; Mixture (15.19.22) 3 ranks
Pedal Organ: Lieblich Bourdon 16ft (from Swell); Bass flute 8ft (from Sub-Bass); Quint 10 2/3ft (from Sub-Bass)
The organ then had a total of 30 speaking stops.
Completion Of The Organ
The builders had great trouble fitting the instrument into the available space and so eventually they cut away part of the transept frontal to fit the organ underneath the archway where it is today.
The organ was completed in the spring of 1958 and was officially opened and dedicated by the Lord Archbishop of Wales on Palm Sunday. The following Thursday, the opening recital was given by Mr Harry Gabb, Organist of the Chapel Royal and sub-organist at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
In 1984, Percy Daniel and Co. Ltd. were engaged to clean and overhaul the instrument, thus providing the opportunity to make tonal modifications mainly to the Choir Organ. The Vox Humana, Orchestral Oboe and Viol d’Orchestre were replaced with new pipework. The new Principal on the Swell replaced the Lieblich Flute.
The Choir Box was also removed to improve the egress of the pipework through the north aisle arch.
In March 1985, the reopening recital was given by Mr John Sanders, the organist of Gloucester Cathedral.