Organ restored 5

Organ tuition The Director of Music is happy to provide organ tuition and to encourage young people, especially those with piano experience, to take up the organ. There are many more potential opportunities for organ performance than for piano on a concert stage.

About our organ: At the time the present heritage church building was built in 1872, Christchurch was in a recession. The founding fathers of St Michael’s could not commit to a building in permanent materials so they opted for the cheaper alternative in timber. In addition, there had been several ‘wake-up’ calls culminating in a significant earthquake in 1869. The surviving church building is one of three outstanding examples of Victorian Gothic design in New Zealand. The other two incidentally, both in the North Island, are The Old St Paul’s in Wellington and St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Auckland.

Our beautiful St Michael’s has become noticed as a treasured venue, post earthquakes, for more than the perennial round of daily services. Recently, a conservation plan was carried out on the building with generous support from the Community Trust and Lotteries Commission.

It is with a total feeling of despair that we learn that of 74 pipe organs in the greater Christchurch area only 16 are playable and only 4 are fully intact. We used to be considered the pipe organ capital of New Zealand. Until recently, historical organ devotees from all round the world used to spend days in Christchurch visiting the beautiful churches and outstanding pipe organs.

In 1895 our Province was once more hit by a recession. When the fine 1872 Bevington Organ in St Michael’s was due for enlargement, St Michael’s engaged an Organ building firm, Fincham and Hobday, which operated in Australasia, rather than taking a contract with an English builder. The resulting organ is a unique hybrid, hence its historical and heritage worth. When it was removed for repairs and a comprehensive rebuild in 2011 one of the organ builders remarked that I would have to wait for 115 years to see the instrument out of its space again!

Organ restored 3

The present Organ at St Michael’s, ordered for the new church for installation in 1872, arrived in 1873. Like its smaller predecessor in the old church, it was built by the London firm of Henry Bevington and Sons. Shipped in zinc lined crates it was assembled by Henry Edgar Jenkins, a local organ builder who had worked with two of the greatest European nineteenth century organ builders, Aristide Cavaille-Coll and William Hill. Jenkins set up a workshop in Kaiapoi and was much involved in the organ at St Michael’s over the coming years. It is curious to note that all pipes were numbered by Bevington, presumably because there was no guarantee of skilled assembly in the Antipodes! The two manual instrument was a modest one which within a year had the addition of a Pedal 16-foot wooden Diapason and by 1886 had been resited in its present position with a Pedal Violin on the chancel case. This work was done by Jenkins who also added a Gamba stop in 1883. In 1895/6 the organ was rebuilt by the organ-building partnership of Fincham and Hobday in favour of obtaining a new organ from Lewis of Brixton in London. By curious coincidence George Fincham had been apprenticed to Henry Bevington at the age of fourteen. Fincham and Hobday enlarged the instrument to a three manual one and retained all the Bevington pipework as well as adding 10 new ranks of their own.

Apart from essential repairs and action modification by Lawton and Osborne in 1941, and James Strachan a local organ builder in 1971, the organ, apart from the ungainly detached console, remained as it was in 1895. The South Island Organ Company have integrated the original Bevington pipework to its original locations, extended most tenor C stops to their full compass, provided off note-chests so that the 61 note keyboards are now full compass. The Bevington 8′ Trumpet is now extended to 32′ on the Pedal. The console on French style is an outstanding piece of cabinetry fashioned out of Matai. The stop knobs have been fashioned to the style used by Bevington in 1872. With a few discrete extensions and additions the result is a well- integrated instrument with loads of character and quality in individual stops and thorough integrity in chorus.


Stop list of 1872 Bevington Organ. Enlargement and additions 1896 Fincham and Hobday.


Great Organ                            Swell Organ


8 Open Diapason*                  16 Lieblich Bourdon

8 Open Diapason II                8 Violin Diapason*

8 Gamba*                                  8 Lieblich Gedackt*

8 Claribel Flute*                      8 Gamba

4 Octave*                                   4 Principal*

2 2/3 Twelth*                           4 Harmonic Flute*

2 Fifteenth*                               2 Fifteenth

8 Trumpet*                                III Mixture

                                                     8 Oboe*

                                                     8 Cornopean*                                                      

Choir Organ                           Pedal Organ

8 Violin Diapason*                 16 Open Wood

8 Dulciana                                16 Sub Bass*

8 Hohl Flute                             8 Violoncello

4 Wald Flute                            

8 Clarinet                                  


Stops marked *    Henry Bevington 1872


Stop list for rebuilt Organ, South Island Organ Company 2013


NEW SPECIFICATION: Bevington 1872 (B), Fincham & Hobday 1896 (FH), Jenkins 1886 (J). (N) New


GREAT (11)

(FH/N) Double Open Diapason        16′

(B) Open Diapason I                            8′

(FH) Open Diapason II                       8′

(B) Claribel                                            8′

(B) Dulciana                                          8′

(B) Octave                                              4′

(B/FH) Harmonic Flute                      4′

(B) Twelfth                                             2 2/3′

(B) Fifteenth                                          2′

(N) Mixture                                            III

(B/N) Double Trumpet                        16’

(B) Trumpet                                            8′

SWELL (10 + 4) (enclosed)

(FH) Lieblich Bourdon                         16′

(B) Violin Diapason                               8′

(FH) Gamba                                            8′

(B) Lieblich Gedackt                             8′

(B) Principal                                           4′

(FH) Hohl Flute                                     4′

(FH) Fifteenth                                        2′

(FH/N) Mixture (15-19-22)                 III

(B) Cornopean                                        8′

(FH) Oboe                                                8′


Swell Octave

Swell Sub Octave

Swell Unison Off


CHOIR (7 + 4) (enclosed)

(J)  Stopped Diapason                          8′

(FH) Horn Diapason                             8′

(FH) Dulciana                                         8′

(N)  Vox Angelica TC                             8′

(FH) Wald Flute                                     4′

(FH) Clarinet                                          8′

(B) Trumpet                                            8’


Choir Octave

Choir Sub Octave

Choir Unison Off



(N)  Sub Bass                                        32′

(J)   Open Wood                                   16′

(FH) Open Metal                                  16′

(B)  Bourdon                                          16′

(J)  Principal                                          8′

(B/N)  Bass Flute                                  8′

(J/N)  Octave                                         4′

(B/N) Contra Trombone                     32’ 

(B/N) Trombone                                   16′

(B/N) Trumpet                                      8′