A brief history by Dr William McVicker
William Hill & Son of London constructed a three-manual organ in 1882, for Street’s (largely new) church. Hill was, along with Willis and Lewis, one of the leading organ builders of the second half of the nineteenth century. The company was then run by Thomas Hill and the specification of the organ was much as one would have expected from the company at this period, although the inclusion of an Orchestral Oboe on the Great Organ was unusual. Hill & Son would have been on the eve of winning the contract to build what was to become the largest organ in the world – for Sydney Town Hall – and the company was at the top of its game.
The organist of the church between 1894 and 1907 was Henry J.B. Dart; he must have persuaded the church authorities to commission Hele & Co of Plymouth to enlarge the instrument to cathedral-style proportions by adding a fourth manual –the Solo Organ – and the instrument practically doubled in size at that time. The provincial Hele company was doing very well in the early Edwardian period, on account of the outstanding voicing work of George Hele’s son, John.
In 1936 the firm of Rushworth & Dreaper worked on the instrument, remodelling the Choir Organ and updating the console and mechanisms.
The specification of the organ, as it stands today, is as follows: