The Grand Organ
Henry Willis began the construction of the organ in 1923, and part of the organ was used at the consecration of the Cathedral in the following year. The organ was not completed until 1926 and finally dedicated on 18th October that year. An 'Anniversary' recital is given by the Cathedral Organist each year to commemorate its dedication date.
The organ sits in two chambers on opposite sides of the Choir, currently comprised of 10,267 pipes and 152 speaking stops contained in 9 divisions - the Great, Solo, and Bombarde Organs occupy the South case; the Swell, Choir and Positif occupy the North case; the Corona Organ (installed 1997) is situated in a gallery high up under the tower vaulting; and the Central Organ (installed 2007) is located on the South central gallery. The Pedal Organ is distributed between both North and South cases.
There are two five-manual consoles – one up in a gallery under the North Choir case and a mobile recital console, generously gifted in 1989 by Mr Victor Hutson CBE. The Choir and Positif Organs are played from the same keyboard, the Corona Organ can be played from either the Choir or Bombarde keyboard, and the central from either the Bombarde or Great.
The 'Trompette Militaire' and the 'Tuba Magna' stops are the loudest on the organ, with the 'Militaire' being located high up on the Corona Gallery beneath the Tower Vaultings It was added to the organ in 1997, a generous gift from Prof Alan Dronsfield, whilst the 'Magna' is located high up in the south case of the organ and speaks into the central space of the Cathedral.
Both the recital console and the 'Militaire' were manufactured in the workshops of David Wells (Organ Builders) of Liverpool, who are custodians of the organ and responsible for tuning and refurbishment.
When the organ was completed in 1926 it was the largest musical instrument ever conceived, and, since the installation of the Central division in 2007, has regained the distinction of being the largest pipe organ in the UK, displacing the organ of the Royal Albert Hall, London.
The Cathedral Organists
Henry Goss Custard 1915 - 1955
Dr Noel Rawsthorne 1955 - 1980
Prof Ian Tracey 1980 - Present
If you would like to know more about the history and dimensions of the Grand Organ and the Lady Chapel Organ at Liverpool Cathedral, read; 'The Organs in Liverpool Cathedral' account compiled by Professor Ian Tracey, Cathedral Organist.
This is available to buy in the Cathedral Shop.
What can be better than hearing our magnificent organ being put through it's paces by some of the must talented musicians in the country and across the globe? Our annual recital programme gives you the opportunity to do just that. With a bank holiday recital programme, our participation in Liverpool Organ Day, our Anniversary Recital and our ever popular summer series - what could be a more fulfilling prgoramme?
Bank Holiday Series 11:15am
Easter Bank Holiday Monday
Spring Bank Holiday Monday (Opening recital of the Liverpool Organ Day)
Whit Bank Holiday Monday
Boxing Day recital.
Admission and car parking payable in each case
Summer Saturday Series 12:30 to 1pm
Saturday afternoons in July and August, for the duration of the Cathedral Choir Summer Vacation. These recitals are free of charge to audience. Car parking is payable.
To view recital programmes, please follow the link above to the right.
Anniversary Recital 3:00pm
Commemorating the anniversary of the consecration of the Organ and opening recital. Held on the Saturday nearest to the 18th October each year.
Patrons of the Organ
Following the completion of the Cathedral in 1978, the Chapter was anxious to gather together Patrons who valued our magnificent Willis Organ and would support our recitals and musical events. In order to sustain our great musical tradition, we need your help.
The Organ has been in use since the Consecration in 1924. Between 1958 and 1960 it was completely overhauled and modernised, including the provision of a new all-electric action and a humidifying system. A further major programme of restoration took place during 1977 and 1978, dealing with widespread deterioration of the mechanism, pipe-work metal fatigue, rewiring, (using hundreds of miles of special cable) and a new wind system. The cost of this latter restoration was almost £100,000 and at today’s prices similar work would be in the region of £750,000.
Since 1980 the Organ has been in the very capable hands of David Wells Organ Builders, Liverpool and requires regular attention to keep it in good order. As large an instrument such as this, with over 10,000 pipes, needs a further £20,000 a year to cover tuning and ongoing maintenance. These costs cannot be met from present funds.
You can help . . .
- By giving regular support to our Recitals and Concerts.
- By enrolling as a Patron of the Organ.
- By sending a donation to help maintain the Organ.
The benefits of becoming a Patron . . .
- You will receive a membership card entitling you to free admission at each of the four Bank Holiday Recitals, and Anniversary Recital.
- On production of your membership card you will be allowed free parking for all Cathedral Recitals and Concerts.
- You will be placed on our mailing list to receive details of musical events.
- You will be invited to attend a special Gala recital, at reduced rate, preceded by an exclusive reception for Patrons of the Organ.
How do I join?
Download the membership form to the right of this page and send it to:
Patrons of the Organ
St. James' Mount
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