The Grand Organ Project

Hull Minster (Holy Trinity, Hull) is the United Kingdom’s largest medieval ‘town church’. Its splendour illustrates the ambition, hope and piety of medieval kings and merchant-princes. This magnificent space has resounded with prayer and song for more than 700 years. Accordingly, this church is home to one of the greatest musical instruments of the British Isles: The Grand Organ of Hull Minster.

Why is it called the Grand Organ?

Grand = large. This is a gigantic musical instrument, with 104 speaking stops and over 4000 pipes. Like a symphony orchestra, it is a stunning collection of instrumental sounds, capable of a vast range of musical colours (from the gentlest caress to the mightiest roar).

How old is the Grand Organ?

The oldest pipes date from 1711 (when Queen Anne reigned and the Kingdom of Great Britain was only four years old). Successive generations have remodeled and enlarged the instrument, with the newest additions being made in 1937. This organ has been supporting the voices of Hull for more than 300 years. It resonates across centuries. From the solemnity of remembrance to the joy of weddings, the Grand Organ has provided beauty and splendour for countless occasions. The sounds that you can hear today have been heard and felt by those who have lived before us.    

Why does Hull have such an amazing musical instrument?

Hull’s history is full of cultural riches. The merchants of Hull, wealthy through international trading, commissioned the skills of the finest craftsmen.  In gratitude for their good fortune (and sometimes in hope against adversity) the people of Hull gave generously of their wealth to create the finest instrument imaginable to honour God (as well as to demonstrate their local pride…Kingston upon Hull would not to be out-shone by other great cities!). Therefore, this is an instrument forged by local philanthropy…generations of generosity and civic pride have produced a remarkable thing of lasting beauty.

 Electro-Mechanical Marvel

Electro-Mechanical Marvel

What is the Grand Organ’s purpose?

Throughout its history, the Grand Organ has been used to enable a varied pattern of musical life. It provides the accompaniment for Hull’s 700-year-old tradition of choral worship, leads great congregations of Hull citizens at civic ceremonies, and (as a concert instrument) it entertains and delights audiences of all ages. It is also an engine of education – extended learning and highly-skilled classical musicianship are enabled by this instrument.

Why is it in need of major repairs/restoration?

The Grand Organ was last rebuilt in 1938. Since that time, it has served the people of Hull through the devastations of war and the hardships of industrial decline. This vast musical engine of wood, leather, metal, springs and wind systems has worked tirelessly to meet the demands of 80 years…little wonder that it now needs a thorough overhaul to restore its reliability and magnificence.

How can we restore the Grand Organ?

This organ exemplifies hand-built precision…and it’s as big as a house! However, we can bring the Grand Organ back to health by working in stages.

Stage One: renewing the electrical relay systems…the nerve-centre of the Grand Organ! The old electrical mechanisms have been operating since 1938 (see video). To renew this electronic nerve-centre we will need to commission bespoke computer hardware. This system will take three months to build and a further two months to install (it’s a complex and delicate task). We will also undertake some essential cleaning (80 years of accumulated grime is suffocating the instrument).

How can you help? In the spirit of ages before ours, we are inviting anyone who values beauty, culture, heritage and craftsmanship to contribute to this restoration campaign. Our initial target is £75,000. This figure will reawaken the sleeping giant and start its journey back to full health.

Stage Two: This will be a much more extensive challenge. Each section of the Grand Organ will need to be dismantled in order to repair and recondition all of the pipe work, air systems, leatherwork and mechanical apparatus.