Church Organs in the Anglican Parish of Leatherhead

A festive view of the old pipe organ in Leatherhead Parish Church, and below, its console

Leatherhead Parish Magazine September 2007

In view of the imminent arrival of the rebuilt Thomas Parker organ of 1766, this item from 1907 is rather timely. The organ referred to in this excerpt was, of course, the big one built by Walkers in 1873, incorporating parts of the Thomas Parker organ. An organ loft was built for it (where the present clergy vestry is) over a clergy vestry, also built in 1873. Unfortunately, the organ had already given trouble as early as 1886, a mere 13 years after its installation, and by 1907 it was found to be "in a deplorable state". 100 needed to repair it was a tremendous sum in those days, but the money was raised to carry out the necessary work, and it was cleaned and overhauled the following year and an electric blower installed. Up till then it had been blown by hand - an extremely arduous task for an organ of this size. The names and initials of the blowers have been carved on the wall alongside where the bellows were.
Linda Heath

"Leatherhead Parish Magazine September1907
We can no longer postpone the cleaning and repairing of the Organ. Messrs. Walker have inspected it, and their careful and detailed report reveals a state of things that is deplorable. It is a most valuable instrument, and the Parish will, we hope, be very willing to come forward with subscriptions to meet the cost, which will be about 100."

During the 20th century the instrument became increasingly unreliable. In late 1983, in the face of a potentially very large repair bill, it was decided to replace the old organ with an Allen Computer organ of the type used in Chichester Cathedral, although retaining the old organ in case funds became available for restoration to be possible. view of the decommissioned organ

In 1989 an electrical fire destroyed the new Allen organ and much of the pipework of the old organ. When the wreckage of the old pipe organ was dismantled it was found to contain salvageable 18th century pipework, 19th century Walker organ pipes (some of which were sold to Norway for use in a new church) and additions made in 1927. 

Laid out on pews, much of what was recovered of the pipe organ before disposal/storage

In 1991 the key remnants of the old organ were finally put in storage, as it would have cost at least 45,000 (and probably much more) to have renovated it.

It was also likely that permission for a new pipe organ would be granted only if it were to be placed in a different part of the church so that it would be more effective.

keyboard of 18th century organ

console of the Allen organ

A replacement Allen organ was installed

Specification of Leatherhead Parish Church Allen Digital Computer Organ (ADC 4300)
Great: 13 speaking stops from 16' to 1 1/3
Tremulant; Celeste tuning
Swell: 16 speaking stops from 16' to 1'
Tremulant; Celeste tuning
Pedal: 12 speaking stops (including Contra Bourdon 32')
Accessories: Gt. to Ped.; Sw. to Ped.; Sw. to Gt. Thumb & toe pistons, 10 General Thumb & toe pistons. 6 Thumb pistons to Gt., 6 to Sw.  6 toe pistons to Ped. General Thumb pistons 1&2. Tutti Thumb pistons 1&2. Reverse Thumb piston. General cancel.
Alterables to Gt., Sw. and Ped.
Articulate voicing Off. Romantic Tuning Off. Swell 2nd voicing Off.
Reverb. Percussion. Gt. to Ped. combinations coupled.

The Parish Church Organist is David Oliver, who is also Director of Music at the Parish Church. 

booklet: old pipe organs at the Parish Church
Allen organ: more detailed specification

The organ at All Saints Church was the original two manual Nicholson pipe organ installed at the opening of the church in 1889. All Saints' last Organist was Leslie Day.

The console and stops are shown below.


In May 2004 the All Saints' organ was advertised on eBay, ultimately without success though some interest was expressed, as the role of All Saints' is changing and an organ of this size and quality is no longer appropriate.

In January 2005 another attempt was made to sell it on the organfax website.

from the February 2005 Parish Magazine

All Saints' Old Pipe Organ On February 6th we held our last service at All Saints' using the old pipe organ, prior to its being dismantled. At the well attended service the congregation, many with tears in their eyes, heard a moving address by David Eaton. He paid tribute not only to the long service of the organ but also to the many organists who had played it over the years, especially the late Les Day, whose daughter and her husband had joined us for the service.

On this occasion Director of Music David Oliver played the organ, ending with the hymn One more step along the way I go which has the very appropriate line "From the old things to the new, keep me travelling along with you". John and Sheila Sutherland

from the March 2005 Parish Magazine

All Saints' Organ I wrote in last month's magazine that 14th February had been fixed for the removal of the All Saints' organ. A last service in which the organ could be played was also fixed for 6th February. And so it all seemed. The service was held and David Oliver played and recorded the organ. However, at the eleventh hour David Smith, from near Wells, contacted me to say he was interested in buying the organ. He visited the next day and a deal was struck.

This is very good news because it means the organ will find a new home in David Smith's house. It will be cared for and restored. I am grateful to Mark Booth, whom I had contacted to remove the organ. Mark agreed to the settling of only his out of pocket expenses, even though a late cancellation was involved. David Smith will visit All Saints' in February and March to remove the organ to his home. Once removed, the re-ordering of the All Saints' worship area can proceed with the establishing of a new entrance on the north side of the church.

I am grateful to Sue Parrott who placed the organ on a website called organfax, which is where David Smith found the details.
David Eaton

last updated 7 Nov 13