Last updated 8th May 2006
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Manchester Town Hall Cavaille-Coll Organ

Another well kept secret in the North West is this lovely old organ set in the Grand Hall of Manchester Town Hall.
Built originally as a three manual organ by Aristide Cavaille-Coll, it was enlarged to four manuals by Cavaille-Coll in 1893.
It was rebuilt and enlarged to five manuals in 1912 by Lewis & Co of London.
In 1970 Jardine & Co refurbished the organ, fitting a movable console, and a new electro-pneumatic action to the primary motors.
The tone of the organ is unchanged since 1912 apart from a solo nazard.

In 1994, the organ had been unplayed for some time, and premier North West Organist Nigel Ogden got together with the City Council and Jardine to bring the organ back to life, but stopping short of a major overhaul. Nigel gave monthly lunchtime concerts on the organ.

Nigel has recorded an excellent CD of the Town Hall organ, called "In Classical Mood", on the OS Digital label. This can be purchased from Organ1st.

The organ is situated at the end of the Grand Hall, in a semi circular apse with a domed ceiling, which allows the organ to have a good reverbration, whilst retaining a very pure direct tone.

The lunchtime concerts were from 1pm to 2pm with a very low admission charge, however after more than 30 years of minimal attention to the organ, Nigel no longer feels the organ is playable and the concerts have ceased from 2004. Major funding is required from somewhere for a proper and thorough overhaul.

The Grand Hall of the Town Hall is graced with a set of frescoes by Ford Madox Brown detailing various historic events. He painted these over two decades. The paintings are showing their age, with some cracking. One in particular at the front right is suffering very badly from damp and a white fungal growth - it may be better not to delay a visit if you wish to see them. The fine timber roof of the Grand Hall may also be imperilled by copious and widespread water penetration. See it whilst you can!

The Town Hall Organ has five 61 note manuals (CC to C) plus 32 pedals (CCC to G), with 97 draw stops (64 speaking). There are 5,083 pipes, the largest being the 32 foot CCCC Contra Bombarde.

Organ Specification:
Soubasse 32'
Great Bass 16'
Contra Bass 16'
Principal 16'
Bourdon 16'
Diapason 8'
Octave 8'
Flute Bass 8'
Bourdon 8'
Flute 4'
Contra Bombarde 32'
Bombarde 16'
Trompette 8'

Principal 8'
Salicional 8'
Unda Maris 8'
Cor de Nuit 8'
Flute Douce 4'
Octavin 2'
Carillon I-II ranks
Trompette 8'
Clarinette 8'
Voix Humaine 8'

Choir Octave
Choir Suboctave
Choir Unison off
Swell to Choir

Principal 16'
Bourdon 16'
Diapason I 8'
Diapason II 8'
Bourdon 8'
Flute Harmonique 8'
Gambe 8'
Presant 4'
Quinte 2 2/3'
Doublette 2'
Plein Jeu VII ranks
Basson 16'
Trompette 8'
Clairon 4'

Swell to Great
Choir to Great
Solo to Great

Bourdon 16'
Diapason 8'
Flute Harmonique 8'
Viole de Gambe 8'
Voix Celeste 8'
Flute Harmonique 8'
Presant 4'
Flute Octave 4'
Plein Jeu III-IV ranks
Basson 16'
Basson Hautbois 8'
Trompette 8'
Clairon 4'

Swell Octave
Swell sub Octave
Swell Unison Off
Solo to Swell
Echo to Swell
Solo Expressive to Swell

Diapason Stentor 8'
Diapason 8'
Rohr Gedact 8'
Flute Harmonique 8'
Flute Octave 4'
Nazard 2 2/3'
Musette 8'
Gross Clarinette 8' Enclosed
Tromba 8' Enclosed
Tuba 8'
Tuba Clarion 4'

Solo Octave
Solo Sub Octave
Solo Unison Off

Echo Dulciana 8'
Viole d'Orchestre 8'
Philomel 8'
Viole Celeste 8'
Viole Cornet II-V ranks

Echo Octave
Echo Sub Octave
Echo Unison Off