The Organ Restoration Project

The Organ Restoration Project

The project to restore Salisbury Cathedral’s magnificent Father Willis organ is well underway.

The work, which began in January, will take 14 months.

It was 50 years ago that the organ last underwent such a comprehensive restoration.

Some of the pipes will be cleaned on site, with the remainder taken away for cleaning. The mechanics, bellows and reservoir will be repaired.

The work is being carried out by Harrison and Harrison, renowned organ builders and restorers from Durham who have cared for the Cathedral’s organ since 1978.

The team is led by Ian Bruce, who has 30 years’ experience working with pipe organs.

“Salisbury Cathedral’s Father Willis is one of our flagship organs,” he said.

“We work on a lot of his organs, but this one is really top of the tree musically and very well respected, due to the high-quality workmanship and the way it is all put together.”

Salisbury’s Father Willis organ was built in 1877 at a cost of £3,500, a sum given by Miss Chafyn Grove of Zeals.

It has just under 4,000 pipes, ranging in size from ones as small as a matchstick to others that stand 32ft high.

The project will cost about £700,000.  The Friends of Salisbury Cathedral has given a substantial grant towards the restoration project and the Cathedral received a grant of £82,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the restoration and the organ exhibition,  pulling out the Stops, which is in the north transept and runs until November. 

It explores the history of the organ and includes a virtual organ with stops. Visitors are able to play a keyboard and pull out stops on a touch screen to recreate the unique sound of the Father Willis organ.

If you would like to make a donation towards the restoration of the organ, please make cheques payable to Salisbury Cathedral and send to Jilly Wright, development manager at Wyndham House, 65 The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EN.  Donations can also be made online at