The origins of the pipe organ in St John’s Church go back to 1862 when “a finger organ” was given to the church by Revd G Mason of Copt Hewick Hall. “Finger Organ” was the expression used in the first part of the 19th century to describe a small organ with a keyboard distinguishing it from a barrel organ of which hundreds were built at a time when it was difficult to find organists for rural churches.
The organ bears a brass plate attributing it to Abbott but in 1862 when this organ was first installed Isaac Abbott was working in London for William Hill. It was not until 1869 that he set up his own business in Leeds. In 1888, possibly as a result of Abbott’s death, his colleague William Smith (who trained with Hill in London and had been Abbott’s works manager since 1881) became a partner and the firm’s name was changed to Abbott & Smith. It appears therefore that Abbott, whilst not being the original builder, did carry out the improvements in 1883 when two additional stops were added by the generosity of Mr Hurst and / or in 1887 when it was further enlarged and improved. If as is likely, the same firm carried out the 1899 improvements the original Abbott plate must have been retained.
Today, located in the North Choir, the pipe organ is used for most services. It is electrically pumped, has a pipe rack, integrated two manual console, drawstops with ivory labels and concave pedalboard with radiating wooden sliders.
Information about this instrument is available on the website of NPOR –
In recent years we have been remarkably fortunate with music at St John’s. The appointment of a talented and committed Music Director, John Croyle, in 1999 was quickly followed by the establishment of a small choir which supports the singing at most services as well as performing the occasional anthem or other musical item.
A Clavinola, which replaced an old piano in 2000, has proved to be a very versatile and valuable addition to the church’s musical resources.