The Church Organ
The organ was built for St. Mark’s Church, Leicester, in 1871/2 by the famous firm of Wm. Hill & Sons. In 1904 it was provided with a third (Choir) manual and pneumatic action, moved onto a purpose built west gallery and given new casework designed by Dr. A.G. Hill; the form in which this historic instrument remains today. We must be thankful that after the second World War no funds were available to effect fashionable, potentially irreversible, changes that might otherwise have been inflicted upon it. St. Mark’s closed in 1984 and the organ was almost unplayable when it first came to our attention in 1986.
Following a difficult period of fund raising and negotiations work was begun in 1992 with Thomas Sheffield of Olton as the builder; his last major contract. The organ was dedicated in April 1994 although only part of it was actually working. The instrument was finally completed (as far as the specification is concerned) in October 1996. This was celebrated with a further recital which was also given by the late Ian Ledsham. However, a good deal of detailed work remained which was undertaken over the following ten years.
Today the organ is very much as Hill’s left it, although changes in the wind arrangements were necessary because of differences in the design of the gallery. Two Pedal stops have been added (the Trombone and Bass Flute) and the pipes from the Choir Gamba have been stored in the north case and substituted with a stop of 2′ pitch, designated Piccolo, but in fact the old Nicholson 4′ Spitzflute transposed an octave. There are a total of 26 speaking stops, each a separate rank.
Full details of the restoration can be found in the British Organ Archive housed at the University of Birmingham, where it is indexed with earlier material under Hill’s original job number 1404.