Portsmouth Cathedral, which started as a parish church in the 12th century, has a very unusual layout. The building is a culmination of many years of construction and is defined as two separated parts – a quire where most services are held and a nave used for major celebrations and concerts. A tunnel under the organ gallery links these two parts.
The 1861 John Nicholson organ was originally built for Manchester Cathedral with the first phase of renovation work carried out by Nicholson & Co in 1994.
This phase of work involved the replacement of the structure, soundboards, action and wind system as well as a new console which was positioned en fenêtre within the 1718 Jordan case. The casework, which was in a poor state of repair, was restored by Nicholson & Co. craftsmen. The missing lower panelling was completed in solid English oak and the pipes and figures re-gilded in 24 carat English gold leaf.
In 2001 the new West Great division was added. The Nave division has now been designed and voiced to become partner of the greater instrument and the West Great blends superbly with the Swell and with the Pedal division (just behind the new division). This work included a new case of imaginative and contemporary design.
In 2017, we added an exciting new en chamade solo reed stop – the Trompete de Maris, mounted below the ceiling at the west end of the cathedral. We also completed a comprehensive refurbishment of the console, including enhancements to playing aids such as the provision of a stepper.