The Cathedral organ was built specifically for St German’s Cathedral and installed in 1884 in time for the opening of the building.
It was built by the Sheffield builder of Brindley and Foster and originally was designed as a 3 manual instrument.
The instrument was given a total overhaul and rebuild in the 1973 by Yorkshire based organ builders Laycock and Bannister at a cost of £2,500.00. The rebuild included the loss of the small choir division, but tonally most work was done of the swell organ to bring it up to date, make it fit for bigger services and to try to get more sound into the Nave of the building. The work included the addition of a balanced swell pedal, re-modelling of the actions and the addition of playing aids (adjustable thumb and toe pistons).
Further work was done in 2015 by island organ builder, Peter Jones. This included the complete re-leathering of the Great and Swell underactions and the addition of a pedal Posaune at 16’.
The pedal Posaune was originally the 16’ reed from the Jardine organ at St George’s Church in Douglas. It was removed by Peter Jones in 2003 when a new organ was constructed for the church.
The Pedal reed is the only complete full size 16’ reed on the Island, and in order to fit all the pipes in, the bottom octave is horizontally placed on top of the swell box! The bottom octave pipes facing a westward-projectile into the Nave, and the remaining pipes can be seen at on the left hand side of the west facing case.
The reed has been rescaled by Peter Jones to match the rest of the organ.
This work was made possible by funding given by the Isle of Man Arts Council.
The addition of the pedal reed has made the instrument much more versatile for the performer and has significantly improved the bass to help drive congregational singing in the Nave.
The current specification (2016)
8 Open Diapason
8 Diapason (grooved)
16 Open Diapason
8 Stopped Flute
8 Voix Celestes
8 Bass Flute
4 Harmonic Flute
2 2/3 Twelfth
16 Contra Fagotto
Balanced Swell Pedal
Swell + Pedal
4 adjustable pistons to
Swell + Great
Reversibles for Sw - Gt
Gt - Ped
Great + Pedal
Great + Pedal Combs
The instrument suffers from poor placement in a chamber which, though plenty large enough, opens onto the main part of the building through archways which are too small to let out all the sound. This means that, though it sounds perfectly adequate in the building, it does not have the impact which an organ of this size and power ought to have. Despite this, the instrument contains some very pleasing pipework, and has proved to be reliable down the years.
In 2018 Gary Owens Organ Builders completely rebuilt the stop actions and repaired and made good runnings in the Swell division. This work was made possible by the Isle of Man Arts Council, Culture Vannin, Manx Heritage Lottery Trust and Peel Heritage Trust.
Future works are likely to include the re-installation of a choir division and a complete repositioning of the internal layout of the instrument to aid projection into the Nave. For updates on the future plans of the Cathedral Organ follow our Facebook page, search ‘Developing St German’s Cathedral Pipe Organ’.
The instrument is currently looked after by Gary Owens Organ Building.