The Organ

There have only been seven organists at Wakefield since the church became a cathedral in 1888. A previous Organist and Director of Music, Jonathan Bielby, was in post from 1970 until Easter 2010 giving 40 years service and making him then the longest serving organist in any English Cathedral.

The present organ was constructed in three stages:

  • 1905 – Abbot and Smith (using a small amount of earlier pipework)
  • 1951 – John Compton (much new pipework except in Swell and Choir)
  • 1985 – Wood of Huddersfield (much new upperwork, some rearrangement)

The action is electro-pneumatic. Unusually, all the pipework except the Choir Organ and the Tuba is enclosed in swell boxes. Compton’s work was based on the use of unit chests of the sort pioneered by Robert Hope-Jones. At Wakefield, the Great, Solo, Bombarde and Pedal divisions retain these unit chests, one for each rank, with substantial extension. The Swell and Choir divisions are on conventional chests, without extension. Wind pressures are relatively high, especially for the Great and Solo reeds – approximately 10” and 15” respectively. The Pedal ‘Contrabass’ – also on high pressure is in fact a ‘Diaphone’ with wooden tubes.

The large number of low-pitched stops reflects the particular acoustic of Wakefield Cathedral, where the lower pitches do not carry well through the building. This is particularly true when there is a large congregation. While Wakefield Cathedral Organ is unmistakably English in character, well-suited to accompanying both choir and congregation, it is also remarkably versatile for recital work. We often feel it sounds better in the building than its designs suggests it should! This is largely due to the sensitive rebuilding by Mr David Wood in 1985.

If you are not able to visit Wakefield Cathedral you can view the below video to hear our wonderful organ being played at a recent rehearsal via our YouTube Channel – Improvisation No 7 ‘Allegro giocoso’ – Saint Saëns performed by Dr Robert Pecksmith.

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Wakefield Cathedral

Cathedral Centre
8-10 Westmorland St
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01924 373923