In 1878, only four years after the completion of the major extension, the pipe organ was installed.
It seems probable from the start that the new orchestra gallery had been intended to function as the organ loft it soon became, the only necessary alteration being the bricking-in of the window.
The trustees were still burdened by a debt of £400 and could not take further responsibility of buying an organ. However, the determination to install an organ was great in many hearts, and a committee was formed.
The total cost of the organ was £335 and was paid for by means of a series of concerts and many individual donations, the balance being covered wholly by substantial loans.
The organ was officially opened on Wednesday, 13th February 1878. A concert was given – the organist was Mr Collinson and the singers were Miss Atkinson, and Messrs Whitehead, Grice and Leatham. The proceeds of the concert were given to the organ fund and the task of raising the money for the repayment of the debt began in earnest. In May 1884, all the loans had been repaid with interest and the organ formally handed over to the trustees, free from debt.
The organ was considered 'one of the best of its day' and was built by P Conacher and Co of Huddersfield.
The maintenance of the organ has been a special concern of the choir. An organ fund was created to meet any costs and still exists today.
The organ was cleaned and repaired in 1909 and during 1925 extensive renovations were carried out. It was generally overhauled and tracker action and an electric blower and starter were installed at a cost of £150. Gone were the days when it was necessary to appoint an official organ blower who was paid to lever the bellows behind the panelling of the organ.
The organ was again overhauled and cleaned in 1937. In 1948, it was renovated when pneumatic action was introduced. The work was done on both these occasions by H J Nelson of Durham.
We are very fortunate that, for 50 years, our present organist Mr Tom Rennie was an
employee of Harrison & Harrison Ltd, Organ Builders of Durham. He has taken upon himself the task of maintaining the organ and undertaking any repairs necessary. This ensures that the organ is always in excellent condition, which in turn complements his excellence in playing.