Confirmation News

Welcome to Holy Trinity Parish Church Hoghton, Lancashire.

Organ History

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Our organ is Grade II listed
The original organ at Holy Trinity Church was built by F W Jardine of Manchester and installed in the church in 1868. It was opened by Doctor Greaves of Preston and had cost £225. The case and the front pipes, by Samuel Renn, had in that year been taken from All Saints, Newton Heath, Manchester, who were upgrading to a larger instrument. The organ itself from Newton Heath is considered ‘lost’ by the English Organ Archive. The distinctive Renn ‘flowers’ on some of the front pipes could still be seen under the painting and gilding before the present restoration.

Prior to this, worship had been accompanied by “a bassoon (still to be seen on the north wall of the church, and still playable), a clarionet (sic) and a fiddle”. We know that the bassoon player was Robert Baron and the player of the double bass fiddle was a hunchback called Jonathan Smith and that they sat with the choir on the south side of the church. A harmonium was also used at some time.

Thomas Swinburn, one of the principal engineers in the construction of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, was one of the prime movers in the installation of this first organ and later his son John, although not resident in the parish, often attended to play.

The church, built in 1823, was a single span building of 56 ft x 45 ft supported by only four beams and the roof was never satisfactory. Some remedial work was done in 1881, but finally, in 1884, the church had to be closed as a dangerous building when part of the roof fell in! The church accounts of that time show that the organ was dismantled and put into packing cases for storage but we do not know where it was stored.

In 1874, Mr Jardine the organ-builder retired and the firm was taken over by James A Thorold and Charles Woodfield Smith, senior men in the firm at that time. The company was then known as Thorold and Smith until 1889, when it reverted to the name of Jardine and Co.

The Holy Trinity organ is number 82 of 1886 and the drawings of it are in the archive. It was installed prior to the opening of the rebuilt church in April 1887.

The late Charles Myers took the following information from Thorold and Smith’s order book:- ‘The Great soundboard, which was 54 notes, was extended to 56. Great Gamba was re-voiced, and the Wald Flute extended down to CC. There was a new soundboard for the Swell of 56 notes with 9 stops. New building frame, new and larger bellows and all the old stops continued down to CC. Vox Angelica (now the Salicional), Voix Celeste, 12th and Piccolo were provided. New couplers Swell to great, Swell to Pedal and Great to Pedal were added. New soundboard for the Pedal and a Violoncello added to the Pedal along with the existing Bourdon. New keyboards, stopjambs and actions. The old front pipes were adapted to the case and redecorated in gold and colours.’ Cost £351. The eventual cost to the church of the installation was £471.

The tracker actions are original and this organ is unusual in that it has two wind reservoirs, the Swell having its own, and these are supplied by an electric blower which was added in 1938. Situated under the vestry floor, it has been prone to flooding, and a new blower has been placed inside the case. The manually-operated wind pump is still in situ and is used from time to time. During the power cuts of the early 1970s, the young bellringers were required to make themselves available for pumping duties! A balanced swell pedal was added at about this time, sacrificing one of the combination pedals, but an attempt to renew the pedalboard at about the same time had organ afficionados reaching for their cameras to record the disaster, and the pedalboard was replaced at the time of an overhaul of the action by Thomas Pendlebury & Co Ltd in 1983. This was paid for by a legacy of £500 from Miss Kirk of the parish.

Since then it has been tuned regularly until 2003 when it was decided to ask Dr Gerald Sumner to inspect it. Dr Sumner’s enthusiastic response led to the listing of the instrument as a Historic Organ and the issue of a certificate by the BIOS and thus eligible for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Since 1st January 2006