A Brief History of  St Barnabas Church Organ

In 1884, what appears to be a two-manual and pedal instrument with tracker action, built by T.C. Lewis of Brixton was installed in the original St Stephens chapel, prepared for future enlargement, almost immediately ‘considerable additions’ were made to it – possibly including an Oboe stop on the Swell and a Posaune on the Great. This instrument was moved into the new (and much larger) church of St. Barnabas in 1888 and placed at floor level in the North Chapel.

After much building work in the church, it was necessary to clean the organ in 1900. The opportunity was taken to enlarge it to a three-manual instrument. This was undertaken by Lewis and Company. The organ including the console was moved to a new gallery, thirty feet from floor level and the instrument was dedicated on 27th February 1900. There the organ remains until the present day, with the exception of the console.

In 1915 a detached console was provided in St. Stephens’s chapel, facing east but essentially the tonal design remains that of 1900.  

Messrs William Hill & Son, and Normal & Beard undertook an overhaul of the organ in 1962, and provided electro-pneumatic action. In 1976, the blower was moved into the organ loft. A new Discus blower was installed, and the long awaited electrification of the console was undertaken.

The accessories were brought up to modern standards. The flat ivory stop knobs were retained, as were the cast-iron combination pedals of Lewis. Care of the organ remains with Hill, Norman & Beard.

The electric action is instantaneously responsive and despite being approx. seventy feet in length, the swell linkage works smoothly without backlash.

We are indebted to Aidan Lee for the information on this page; a much fuller version of the history of the organ is available in St Barnabas Church.


Early photo circa 1884 showing organ in the original St Stephens Chapel;