Having provided many years of service, the first organ in St Wulstan's proved quite inadequate for leading larger congregations and its action was failing. The electrics were also suspect and presented a possible fire risk; on a couple of occasions emitting smoke, so it had to be replaced!
In 1994 Canon Corrigan, Parish Priest at the time, offered to fund the addition of a trumpet or mixture stop to improve the impact of the organ (the sound in the sanctuary was always distant, even when the instrument was played “full”). He was advised by our Director of Music, David West, that to do this was really throwing good money after bad, since the problems of the organ were much greater than simply lack of volume or impact. This was confirmed after a visit in an advisory capacity, by David Saint, Director of Music at St Chad's Cathedral in Birmingham. After trying out the instrument Professor Saint agreed that it was not worth restoring.
However, in December 2003 David West received a telephone call from our organ tuners Cartwright & Cartwright. A superb two-manual instrument had become available. The organ, built by Rushworth & Dreaper, was situated in Engedi CM Church in Brymbo, North Wales. On Wednesday 7th January 2004, David visited the Chapel to try it out.
The organ he found far outweighed expectations. Every stop was beautiful to listen to on its own and well voiced. Furthermore, they blended well together to produce a fine sound. It was decided therefore, that none of the pipes would be thrown away and nothing would be changed that would alter its character. However, it was necessary to enlarge the original specification so that the former Engedi organ could cope with the future musical needs of St Wulstan’s.
Measurements were taken in the choir loft at St. Wulstan’s and all the relevant data was recorded on the final visit to the chapel in Brymbo, including a mini-disc recording. The Brymbo organ was then secured for St Wulstan’s in a short space of time.
It also became clear that the benefits of this organ could be the springboard for a whole host of activities, so the “Saint Wulstan’s Musical Education Trust” was formed.
At the time it was estimated that a total of £127,126 would be needed to complete the work, including the extra stops and state of the art three -manual console. Because of the growing choir at St Wulstan’s, there was no extra room in the choir gallery, so special platforms were constructed to house the new organ, extending the gallery for the second time. The money was raised through voluntary contributions within the parish and from outside, thanks to the work of St Wulstan’s Musical Education Trust.
It took thirteen years to raise all the money and we are pleased that our wonderful instrument was installed under budget at only £124,500! This was due to careful planning and the use of additional pipework from other redundant instruments as it became available. This blending together of pipework from various different sources is not easy and thanks go to organ builders Keith and Philip Cartwright for their excellent professional skills. Keith and Phil worked closely with Organist and Director of Music David West over many years. We are also proud of the beautiful new console with its extensive playing aids and facilities. It has been well received by all visiting organists who have played it.
The New Organ
For special occasions we sometimes have a small orchestra!
You can download full specification of the organ in PDF format here and if you are interested in learning to play the organ and receive tuition, that opportunity is available at Saint Wulstan's - contact Dave West!