The organ of St. Andrew's, South Church, Bishop Auckland

One of the largest and finest instruments in the Diocese of Durham

About the organ

Brief History

Forster & Andrews 1881

In 1881, Forster & Andrews, of Hull, a firm of organ builders enjoying an excellent reputation for the quality of their work and for the beautiful sound of their organs, built a two-manual organ of some 20 speaking stops situated in the present chamber.
Much of the Forster and Andrews pipework from 1881 survives in the present instrument.

Peter Conacher 1934

Thanks to the generosity of Sir John Priestman in providing the church with a new organ at his expense, the instrument was enlarged to three manuals and some 33 stops by the Huddersfield builder Peter Conacher and dedicated by the Bishop of Durham on December 12th, 1934, with recitals by both Sir John Priestman and a certain Mr. Stott, perhaps the Organist at that time.
By the 1980's, after many years of good service and some modifications in the care of both Harrison & Harrison and J.W.Walker, maintenance of the organ was becoming increasingly costly and reliability becoming problematic. The insulation of the high-amperage, low-voltage action wiring was also giving increased cause for concern as a real fire risk. The console, situated at the base of the case in the chancel, was not ideally located in that the player was remote from the congregation, very close to the pipes, and found it impossible to have any idea of the balance of the organ with either choir or congregation. The sound of the organ was also extremely loud at the console. A further problem was the location of the Choir Organ just inside the organ chamber behind the console, which meant that it did not speak out into the church, despite its apparent loudness to the Organist.

Harrison & Harrison 1989

In consequence, in 1989, the organ was fully refurbished and rewired with new solid-state systems by Harrison & Harrison with some minor additions to the Pedal and a beautifully voiced new Choir Organ. The console was relocated to the front of the nave on the South side, allowing the Organist to hear much more easily the overall effect of the organ in the body of the church. The new Choir Organ is now able to speak out clearly through a grill in the old console opening.

Current specification of the organ

Great Organ

1 Double Diapason 16' (stopped)
2 Large Open Diapason 8'
3 Small Open Diapason 8'
4 Hohl Flute 8'
5 Salicional 8'
6 Principal 4'
7 Harmonic Flute 4'
8 Fifteenth 2'
9 Mixture III ranks
10 Trumpet 8'
11 Clarion 4'

Swell Organ

12 Bourdon 16'
13 Open Diapason 8'
14 Gedackt 8'
15 Viola da Gamba 8'
16 Voix Celeste (Ten.C) 8'
17 Principal 4'
18 Fifteenth 2'
19 Mixture III ranks
20 Double Horn (Ten.C) 16'
21 Horn 8'
22 Oboe 8'
23 Clarion 4'

Choir Organ

24 Stopped Diapason 8'
25 Spitzflute 4'
26 Nazard 2 2/3'
27 Blockflute 2'
28 Tierce 1 3/5'
29 Clarinet 8'
30 Vox Humana 8'
31 Trumpet 8'
32 Clarion 4'

Pedal Organ

33 Resultant Bass 32'
34 Open Wood 16'
35 Bourdon 16'
36 Octave Bass 8'
37 Bass Flute 8'
38 Violoncello 8'
39 Octave Flute 4'
40 Trombone 16'
41 Trumpet 8'
42 Clarion 4'


Swell to Great
Swell Octave to Great
Swell Sub-Octave to Great
Choir to Great
Swell Octave
Swell Sub-Octave
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal
Choir to Pedal
Choir Octave to Pedal
Choir Octave
Choir Sub-Octave
Swell to Choir


Cymbelstern (drawstop & toe-piston) 8 general pistons
8 pistons to the Choir Organ
8 pistons to the Great Organ
8 pistons to the Swell Organ (duplicated by toe-pistons)
Reversible pistons
Choir to Pedal
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Swell to Choir
Choir to Great
Swell to Great
Pedal Trombone
Reversible toe-pistons
Great to Pedal
Swell to Great
Pedal Trombone
General cancel piston
Gt.pistons to Ped.combinations
All pistons instantly settable (2 memories)

Brian Varley, BA(Oxon) ARCO
Tel:01388 606075
email: Contact Brian Varley by email

Map showing location of St. Andrew's

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Bach Orgelbüchlein Christmas Season
Nun komm' der Heiden Heiland Gottes Sohn ist kommen Herr Christ, der ein'ge Gottes Sohn Lob sei dem allmächtigen Gott Puer natus in Bethlehem Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ Der Tag, der ist so freudenreich Vom Himmel hoch, da komm' ich her Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schaar In dulci jubilo Lobt Gott. Ihr Christen allzugleich Jesu meine Freude Christum wir sollen loben schon Wir Christenleut'


The Andreas Ensemble The Parish of St. Andrew with St. Anne Auckland Bishop Auckland Music Society (BAMS) Darlington & District Organists'& Choirmasters' Association


Organ console
Left hand jambs
Right hand jambs
Exterior of St. Andrew's