The Original instrument in this church was built by J.C. Bishop of London. It had been built for the Catholic Chapel in Dalton Square, Lancaster in 1841 at the cost of £290! When the new church of St Peter's was opened this organ was dismantled and rebuilt in the new church in 1859, temporarily in the South Transept, until being moved into the North Transept where it remained until 1888. At this point it was sold to St Sylvester's Church, Liverpool.
It was sold because a benefactor - Mr Richard Lemeing of Geaves House, Lancaster - had given a new 'Grand Organ' to be built on the West Gallery. Unfortunately Mr Leeming lived only a few months after the new instrument was installed. The organ was blessed and opened on 6th January 1889.
This was to be the greatest achievement of and finest instrument built by Henry Ainscough of Preston. The case is divided over the two sides of the West Window: to the North side; the Choir and the Great divisions, to the South the Swell. The Pedal organ is divided between the two sides. The bellows were originally blown by an hydraulic engine, which was replaced in 1905 by an electric motor.
Ainscough's did some work to the instrument in the 1950s, although there is no record of the nature of the restoration. The only evidence of this is work comes from a programme of an organ recital given by Sir William Harris on Wednesday 3rd October 1956; the recital was described as 'the re-opening of the restored organ.' The specification appears the same as it was in 1889.
In 1975 Pendlebury of Cleveleys electrified the action and built a new console. No tonal alterations were made.
Extensive restoration work is currently being carried out by Henry Willis and Sons (Liverpool). The work involves the cleaning of all 1886 pipes, the restoration of the soundboards, replacement of the bellows, a new console and some tonal improvements.
2007-2008 Restoration Work pictures and updates
The Cathedral Blog carries a number of postings about the restoration work - click the links below.
Start of the restoration work
Returning the repaired soundboards and other parts
Removal of Great pipes
Fundraising progress and work on the bellows
Removal of Swell pipes
Removal of Swell soundboards and reinstallation of Great pipes
More pictures can be found on the Willis and Sons website, click here.