The organ

The history of the organ at St. Mary's Shortlands is shrouded in mystery. As with many churches forced to re-build after the second world war, all available funds were required for construction of the fabric of the building and little was left for the provision of an organ. The parish of Shortlands was unable to afford a new instrument, the old “Father” Willis organ having been completely destroyed along with the church building itself. Therefore, they were forced to purchase second-hand pipe work and action, and to construct a suitable instrument as best they could using the limited funds available.

Unfortunately, no records survive locally from the period which might tell us about the origins of the instrument. Observation and hearsay would lead us to conclude that the prime motivation for purchase and installation of the instrument was provided by the then Vicar of Shortlands, the Reverend A. N. B. Sugden, who was also the incumbent when the new church building which was consecrated in 1955. We have learned that the pipe work and action was derived from two redundant instruments taken from the Princess Street and Milton Congregational Churches in Gravesend. Some of the pipe work was clearly taken from an ornately decorated instrument of the Victorian age, as the decoration remains intact, although these pipes are now only visible from within the organ chamber. We also know that they were organs with different compasses, as some ranks have had extra pipes added to complete the current 56 note compass of manuals. Having found out which churches the organ was derived from, we are now attempting to trace the history of both the instruments concerned.

The three manual console was new when installed in St. Mary's and was of a stop tab design which was later converted to draw-stop. There are plaques on the console commemorating work by Percy Daniel & Co., Clevedon which we now know was the original installation in 1956. There was also a major overhaul carried out in 1987, we believe by Notormanns of Aylesbury.

The instrument was opened in 1956 at a recital given by Dr Thomas Armstrong D.Mus on 22nd July.


The Organ: Specification

The Great Organ The Swell Organ
16’ Double Diapason 8’ Open Diapason 
8’ Open Diapason I 8’ Salicional
8’ Open Diapason II 8’ Celeste
8’ Claribel Flute 8’ Lieblich Gedeckt
4’ Principal 4’ Principal
4’ Lieblich Flöte III Mixture
2/3 Twelfth 16’ Double Trumpet
2’ Fifteenth 8’ Trumpet
III Cornet 8’ Oboe
8’ Tromba *    

Swell to Great

Choir to Great Sub-Octave
  Unison Off

The Choir Organ (enclosed)

The Pedal Organ
8’ Gedeckt 32’ Contra Bourdon
8’ Dulciana 16’ Bourdon
4’ Nason Flute 16’ Echo Bourdon
2’ Block Flute 16’ Open Diapason
II Sext 8’ Bass Flute
4’ Krummhorn (to tenor C) 8’  Octave
8’ Tromba * (unenclosed) 16’  Trombone *

Swell to Choir

Great to Pedal
Octave Swell to Pedal
Sub-Octave Choir to Pedal
Unison Off  

Four thumb combination pistons to Great
Four thumb and toe combination pistons to Swell
Four thumb combination pistons to Choir
Reversible Swell to Great thumb and toe pistons
Reversible Great to Pedal thumb and toe pistons
Great to Pedal Combinations off

Detached Console, electro-pneumatic action throughout. Original builder(s) unknown, installer Percy Daniel & Co., Clevedon. A major re-build was undertaken in 1987, possibly by Notormanns of Aylesbury. Further maintenance work to replace the voltage regulators, clean the contacts and regulate the reeds was undertaken in 2005. The instrument is tuned and maintained by Mr Martin Cross of Grays, Essex.