The following is taken from a booklet on the history of the church entitled '150 years of service' written by Tony Ashcroft.
The Organs of Pennington Church
The present instrument is the fourth in the space of 99 years. The first organ was built by Foster and Andrews of Hull and was officially opened on Easter Sunday, April 8th, 1855. On this occasion, morning and afternoon sermons were preached by the Vicar, the Rev. W. Seaton, and the evening sermon by the Rev. A. Hewlett of Astley.
Mr George Hirst, Organist of the Liverpool Philharmonic Concerts presided at the instrument. A contemporary report tells us that the congregations at these services were very large and the collections amounted to £55 14s 0d.
The organ contained in all 26 stops, viz, twelve on the Great manual, eight on the Swell manual, two of 16 feet on the pedals, and four couplers. The compass of the great organ was from CC to G in alt and contained 661 pipes; the swell organ compass was from Tenor C to G in alt, and had 396 pipes. The pedal organ was from CCC to E, 29 notes and contained 53 pipes. All together 1,110 pipes.
This magnificent instrument stood in the West Gallery on a screen designed by Mr Denison Jee, of Liverpool. The design formed two octagonal towers, showing the West windows through the centre, with a seat for the organist between the towers, to save the gallery sittings.
“Leigh Chronicle”, has this to say of the organ:-
“It is a very magnificent and superior instrument, great pains having been taken to secure with power an excellent combination of stops and a sweetness of tone. The reeds are considered, by judges of such matters, to be peculiarly fine and effective. The total cost of the organ is £328, and about £300 of the sum is now raised. This fact speaks well for the new church not yet open 12months. ”
This, the first organ, served until February, 1891, when the instrument was removed from the Gallery to the North side of the Chancel. Remodelled and enlarged by Mr G Benson of Manchester, the organ gained another 196 pipes, making in all 1306.
The Swell organ was provided with a new bass octave; and a Vox humana, a Salicional and a Tremulant were added. The old case was ornamented to harmonise with the Church furniture. The removal of the organ from a gallery position involved alterations to the gallery and the “Leigh Chronicle” reports as follows:-
“The Gallery has been raised and the pews made more comfortable, whilst by a clever arrangement the draught in this portion of the building is diverted. ”
Perhaps the draught came from the organ!
Through the generosity of the late Sir George Holden, the early 1920's saw yet another rebuild. This time the scheme was more ambitious and envisaged a three manual instrument, to be built by Alex Young of Manchester. This was to have pneumatic action where the old instruments had tracker action.
The organ was dedicated by the Rev. J Gough McCormick D.D. (Dean of Manchester) on Wednesday 28th July 1920. The organ recital was given by Frederick Boydell I.S.M. who included the anthem 'O Praise God in His Holiness', the song 'Rock of Ages' and 'Andante in G' all composed by himself. Madame Rathbone, wife of Frederick Boydell who was a soprano sang his 'Rock of Ages'.
Unfortunately, no extra space was available to house the additional choir organ and so it was built back to back with the Swell organ, and in cramped conditions. Organs, like humans, want room in which to breathe, and the choir organ, lacking adequate room, became more in the nature of an Echo organ.
During the work of roof restoration and replastering, the instrument suffered a rapid mechanical deterioration and it was necessary to embark on a complete rebuild, which was entrusted to the John Compton Organ Company.
The instrument was redesigned in 1954 as a two-manual with modern electro-pneumatic action and detached console of which since then very few alterations have taken place.
The specification reads:
Sub Bass 32'
Open Wood 16'
Sub Bass 16'
Bass Flute 8'
Double Trumpet 16'
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Lieblich Bourdon 16'
Open Diapason I 8'
Open Diapason II 8'
Stopped Diapason 8'
Harmonic Flute 4'
Swell to Great
Open Diapason 8'
Viol d' Orchestre 8'
Voix Celeste 8'
Hohl Flote 8'
Double Trumpet 16'
Octave Trumpet 4'
4 double touch thumb pistons to Great and Pedal
5 double touch thumb pistons to Swell and Pedal
4 toe pistons to Pedal
1 canceller thumb piston - Great to Pedal
1 canceller thumb piston - Swell to Pedal
1 reversible toe piston - Great to Pedal
Double touch canceller to each department
1 ventil switch to swell reeds