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The once-a-century refurbishment

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York Minster’s Grand Organ is currently undergoing a major, £2m refurbishment, the first on this scale since 1903.

The instrument, which dates back to the early 1830s, was removed in October 2018 – including nearly all of its 5,403 pipes – and taken to Durham for repair and refurbishment by organ specialists Harrison and Harrison.

It has now been returned to the cathedral and work is underway to rebuild the instrument before a substantial period of tuning over the autumn and early next year. The restored organ is due to be ready for use in spring 2021. You can follow the project on social media using #ORGAN100.

The organ plays a key part in the cathedral’s services, providing the heartbeat at the centre of daily worship within the church, and this once-in-a-century refurbishment will ensure it continues to allow world-class music to be performed at the cathedral for the next 100 years.

How you can help

York Minster relies on your generous support to help fund our conservation and restoration work. If you would like to support the project you can:

Donate online
Adopt a pipe
Or see our Get Involved section for other ways you can support our work.

November 2020

The final phases

York Minster’s once-a-century project to refurbish its Grand Organ has entered its final phase, as the newly revealed Pulpitum – known as the ‘Kings’ Screen’ is cleaned. Conservation experts are using museum grade vacuums and brushes to clean years of dirt and dust from the detailed carvings and delicate decoration.

Work to ‘voice’ the instrument has also begun, a process to ensure all the organ pipes, which number more than 5,000, are playing the correct pitch, tone and volume.

October 2020

The King's Screen is revealed

During October the scaffolding which has surrounded the Grand Organ since July 2018 was removed, revealing the distinctive 15th century stone screen which separates the cathedral’s Quire from its Nave for the first time in two years.

September 2020

The decorative pipes return

Specialist organ builders Harrison and Harrison are today returning some of the recently restored decorative pipes, dating from the 1800s, to the organ’s case.

The decorative pipes are part of a set of 102 pipes which decorate the organ’s case. They are some of the oldest surviving pipes in the organ dating from 1832, when a new organ was built following an arson attack in the Quire in 1829 which destroyed the previous instrument.

June 2020

Rebuilding the Grand Organ

Since June the team at Harrison and Harrison have been returning the refurbished organ parts and pipes to the Minster and starting to rebuild the instrument. The work will take around four months to complete and includes reinstating all 5,403 pipes as well as major parts like the blowers and organ console.

January 2020

Gilders on site

The detailed work of re-painting the Grand Organ’s decorative pipes began on-site at the Minster in late January 2020.

Gilders Robert Woodland and Deborah Miller, with help from our own apprentice Luke Prenty, are working in a special compound in the North Transept which allows visitors a rare opportunity to see this once-in-a-century work up-close.

Latest Photos

September 2019

Own a piece of history

In June the 102 decorative case pipes which date from the early 1830s were returned to the Minster. Around 70 of the pipes are being repaired and will be brought back into use for the first time in more than 100 years when the instrument is returned in 2020.

Unfortunately, around 30 of the pipes were beyond repair and will be replaced, with the originals auctioned to help raise funds for the refurbishment project. The auction closed on Friday 27 September with all pipes selling.

 

March 2019

On site at Harrison and Harrison

Nearly all of the 5,403 pipes have now taken over the Harrison and Harrison workshop in Durham. We had an exclusive look behind-the-scenes to see the many intricate developments taking place to refurbish the Grand Organ.

This includes work to repair around 70 of the pipes which will be brought back into use – for the first time in over a century – when the organ is returned in 2020.

Take a look at video to and witness the on-going work.

WATCH HERE

February 2019

Final specification of the new Grand Organ announced

Harrison & Harrison announce the final specification of the restored organ. Click below for more details.

Photo: Martin Doering

Full specification here

November 2018

Grand piano arrives from China

After a journey of more than 20,000km, a brand new concert grand piano arrives at the cathedral from China. The piano, which is a Wilh Steinberg 275, has been loaned to the cathedral by Besbrode Pianos of Leeds for the next two years while the Grand Organ undergoes refurbishment.

The Wilh Steinberg piano brand is today owned by Parsons Music Ltd, one of the world’s leading musical instrument companies with factories in Germany and China. The Minster’s piano is one of 16,000 produced each year at the company’s Chinese factory in the city of Yichang.

 

October 2018

Pulling out all the stops

Over three weeks, a team of eight people from organ specialists Harrison and Harrison dismantled the instrument – including nearly all of its 5,403 pipes – and transported it to their workshop in Durham for cleaning and repair works to be carried out. The pipes range in length from the size of a pencil to 10m long and the instrument overall is one of the largest in the country, weighing approximately 20,000kg.

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