Some church organs the size of St Wulfram’s have their origins in instruments first constructed in the nineteenth century, and in rare cases even earlier. Almost all have been rebuilt a number of times. It is in the nature of such a complicated instrument that repairs are carried out every fifty years or so, and on these occasions, it is quite usual for improvements of some kind or another to be made.
The history of St. Wulfram’s organ follows that pattern, and is outlined as follows:
1736 A three manual (i.e. three keyboard) organ was placed on the screen in the centre of the church. Some pipes of this organ by Byfield still remain in use.
1809 Amongst other things George Pike England turned Byfield’s Echo organ into a Swell.
1851 This organ was enlarged, and in 1866 rebuilt in its present position in the north aisle by the Hull firm of Forster and Andrews.
1906 The organ was rebuilt, this time by the firm of Norman and Beard; splendid casework was provided by Waller Tapper. This, with modifications carried out in 1972, is essentially the same organ we know to today. Laurence Etvin lamented the fact that the Choir and Solo divisions were both played from the same manual, so that the Choir organ ‘was not available for accompanimental purposes against the Solo. This had been a fairly serious shortcoming. After the Second World War the firm of Rushworth and Dreaper (Liverpool) carried out restoration work and was responsible for including the 16′ Double Trumpet in the Swell Organ.
1972 Major work was carried out by Cousans of Lincoln. New keyboard actions were fitted to replace those of 1906 and a ‘Positive’ section, useful mainly as solo stop combinations, replaced the Choir organ. Dennis Thurlow carried out some re-voicing of the older stops.
1993/4 By now, major refurbishment was necessary, which would involve the complete dismantling of the instrument. This was the obvious opportunity to overcome the limitations of the 1906 instrument by fitting a fourth manual. It proved possible to put in a new Choir division, which is used mainly for purposes of accompaniment. The 1972 ‘Positive’ is now part of the Solo organ. The much talked about Tuba is also in place, but the 32′ pedal reed (Contra Posaune) is only ‘prepared for’. The work cost £100 000, and was carried out by Philip Wood & Son of Huddersfield. The Bishop of Grantham rededicated the organ in June 1994.
The instrument, always held in high regard in the past, is now without doubt one of the finest organs in Lincolnshire, thanks to the supporters of the 2000 AD Appeal, which provided the funds for this major restoration work.