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Opening times

  • Saturdays and Sundays
    8am-5pm
  • Mondays to Fridays
    8am-6pm
  • Café 16
    Mon-Sat 10am-4pm
  • FREE ENTRY

‘Not Just a Pipe Dream’ – Newcastle Cathedral Launches Organ Appeal

First published: Sunday 16 June 2024

The magnificent organ case in the North Transept of Newcastle Cathedral catches the eye of all who visit and is a striking reminder of how essential music is to the daily rhythm of this sacred space.

To ensure the Cathedral continues to host a beautiful instrument of national renown, a new Organ Appeal has been launched to fund a significant rebuild. This project will honour the instrument’s roots while being meticulously designed to meet the needs of today’s Cathedral community.

Ian Roberts, Director of Music, says, “The organ is heard almost daily, accompanying Choral Evensong, weekly organ recitals, regular concert performances, and important celebrations and commemorations. It has become central to our wider music programme, with over 100 children participating in our training choirs, Schools Singing Programme, and other initiatives. Our vision is to enhance the lives of young people through singing opportunities and musical education.”

The central organ case dates to the Harris organ of 1676, played by renowned composer Charles Avison during his 34 years as Newcastle’s organist. The building’s elevation to cathedral status in 1882 was celebrated by the installation of a new organ by Lewis & Co. in 1891. Major renovations in 1911, 1954 (both Harrison & Harrison) and 1981 (Nicholson & Co.) reflect the changing tastes and practical needs of choirs and congregations, as well as the extensive maintenance required.

Today, the organ boasts over 5,600 pipes and 94 speaking stops, making it one of the largest in Northern England. However, with the last major project completed 43 years ago and some sections untouched for 70 years, the organ is showing its age and becoming increasingly unreliable.

Ian explains: “We plan to take a phased approach to ensure the instrument that can be used throughout. The first phase will rebuild the Quire Organ. The second phase will fully overhaul the main sections in the North Transept.”

The Cathedral needs to raise approximately £500,000 to complete the first phase. In addition to one-off or regular donations through the Cathedral website, for £500, you can enjoy a Grand Organ Experience, which includes an opportunity to play the Cathedral Organ and the Tudor reproduction Wetheringsett Organ, followed by a performance by the Cathedral Organist.

You can also sponsor a pipe and receive an adoption certificate, with prices starting at just £30.

For more information on these opportunities or other ways to support the organ appeal, please contact ashley.bell@newcastlecathedral.org.uk.

About our organ

The Cathedral organ accompanies choral services and large-scale special services. The instrument takes centre stage in our lunchtime Organ Recital Series, every Monday at 1:05pm.

Find out more