The organ was the gift of Mrs Emma Alice Turnbull, in memory of her husband, Thomas, a local shipbuilder who died in 1892. Emma had played the previous organ in her youth, and they were both generous benefactors of the parish. The organ was built by James J Binns of Bramley, Leeds. There is a memorial window in the Martyrs’ Chapel.

The organ was inaugurated at Mass in May 1893 and was untouched for over 100 years, apart from regular tuning and minor repairs. During the last War a blast from a bombing raid on the railway station caused a crack to the wall behind the organ; this was only repaired in 2015 while the organ was out.

A full restoration was undertaken in two stages by our tuner, Chris M Holford, of Ossett. During these times a Viscount electronic organ, which had previously seen service in the now-closed St Patrick’s church on Church Street, was placed on the Lady Chapel.

The work was done in two stages, and the £60,000 cost was almost totally covered by donations. In 2010 the pipes were cleaned and repaired, and the leaky bellows re-leathered. In 2015-6 the mechanism and casing were taken to his workshop, where he replaced all the metal parts due to corrosion. He also built a new pedalboard as the old one had rotted with woodworm and damp.

For those who like technical details: The front pipes are all speaking from the Great Open Diapason. The console is ‘en fenetre,’ with angled jambs and drawstops. The key, stop and coupler action is tracker. The power comes from a BOB electric blower, located in a cavity within the tower staircase. Until the recent work there was a handle for hand-pumping the organ, which though still in situ has been disconnected.        

Great organ – compass CC to A 58 notes – 

1. open diapason 8ft; 2. dolce, 8ft; 3. hohl flute, 8ft; 4. octave diapason, 4ft;

5. flute harmonique, 4ft; 6. piccolo harmonique, 2ft; 7. trumpet, 8ft.

Swell organ – compass CC to A 58 notes –

8. geigen principal, 8ft; 9. lieblich gedackt, 8ft; 10. vox angelica, 8 ft; 11. voix celeste, 8 ft;

12. lieblich flote, 8 ft; 13. mixture, 3 ranks; 14. cornopean, 8ft; 15. oboe, 8ft.

Pedal organ – CCC to F 30 notes, straight, concave –

16. sub bass, 16ft; 17. flute bass, 8ft.

Couplers – swell to pedals; swell to great; great to pedals.

Accessories -3 combination pedals to great; 3 combination pedals to swell; balanced swell pedal.

The Organist

The present organist, Mark Edwards, learnt to play the organ at St Mary’s Parish Church, and played for services there in 1977/8. He became a Catholic in 1979 and immediately took over evening services from the then organist, Miss Mary Richardson. He is only the sixth organist since 1893. Mark shared Sunday mornings with her for a while, and has the dubious honour of being the last person to use the pumping handle during one Sunday Mass when the blower failed. 

When Mary retired in 1982, in her 80s, Mark took over. He has learnt ‘on the job,’ having had no formal training in either the organ, piano, or choir direction. In 2022 the choir presented Mark with a beautiful cross-stitch panel, worked by Denise Murphy, to mark his 40 years as organist. This hangs above his home organ.

The organ is available for members of the congregation to ‘have a go’ (with supervision), and to learn to play. Mark is not qualified to teach but he is willing to give early guidance and will support anyone who wishes to play.