31st August 2023

The organ of Portsmouth Cathedral

Home again after a stimulating Diocesan Organ Advisers’ Conference based this year in Portsmouth.  Each year we visit a different diocese, at the invitation of the Organ Adviser to the Diocesan Advisory Committee of that diocese, spending the better part of three days discussing current issues, funding, technical matters and interesting local organs. 

King’s / St Peter’s church 1931 HNB console

This year, the full day (the second day) was rather more concentrated than usual on two organs: the 3-manual 1931 HNB rebuild, currently out of use in the church now called ‘King’s Church’ (was St Peter’s) and the large Rushworth & Dreaper extension organ of similar date (though modernised) in the Church of the Holy Spirit (both in Southsea).

The Church of the Holy Spirit

We considered the strengths and weaknesses of both organs and whether the redundant organ in St Peter’s might be an improvement on the R&D in the Holy Spirit.  The jury was still out at the end of the day!  The two musical highlights were a splendid evening experiencing the recently restored Walker organ at St Mary’s church (Portsea), an event greatly enlivened by the words of Dr William McVicker and Andrew Caskie (managing director of Nicholsons) and by the playing of Tom Bell. 

Portsea St Mary, restored J W Walker organ

The Anglican cathedral’s historic Nicholson was put through its paces on the second evening by cathedral organist Dr David Price, along with its recent nave additions which include a solo fanfare trumpet – reputedly audible from the other side of the harbour.  It was an instructive and sociable few days and we all look forward to the 2024 conference.

Portsmouth cathedral fanfare trumpet (one side)