The organ has been at the heart of music-making at St. Andrew’s from the very earliest days. Even before the original temporary ‘Iron Church’ had been completed a one-manual and pedal organ was purchased for £25. On completion of the present church this instrument was installed in the first section of the finished building. Despite the generous acoustics , the organ was clearly inadequate and in 1889 the organ from St. Jude’s Church Whitechapel was acquired.This instrument forms the core of the present organ.
The church now had an instrument of real worth (click here for technical details) and several prominent musicians subsequently held the post of organist, in particular R.H. Ellingford (organist of the Alexandra Palace) and Felix Swinstead (a tutor for many years at the Royal College of Music). Sunday afternoon Organ Recitals regularly attracted audiences in excess of a hundred. In 1913 it was decided to open an appeal to build choir and clergy vestries and to extend and improve the organ. The appeal was successful and the fine Brixton firm of Lewis & Co were appointed as organ builders.
Although the opening recital was given on September 28th 1914 by Dr. H.W. Richards from Christ Church, Lancaster Gate, the organ was extended by stages and not finally complete until 1915. Some individual stops were given in memory of loved ones. The quality of the St. Andrew’s organ is first-rate, both tonally and in terms of workmanship. However, by the 1990s the organ was virtually unplayable and so the courageous step was taken to restore it. This work was undertaken by J.H.Males of Polegate, Sussex, and gave the instrument a new lease of life.