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19th century organ. leeds town hall - Stock Image

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In 1856 the council granted ?5000 for the organ and a design by Henry Smart of London and Willliam Spark of Leeds was chosen. The cost was to be ?4000 not including the case and blowing plant. The organ was built by Gray and Davison, and was such a large instrument that their workshop had to be enlarged in order to build it. The swell box was the largest they had ever built, and a dinner party was held inside the box at the factory!

Cuthbert Brodrick designed the magnificent case, which was made by the Leeds firm Thorpe and Atkinson. The ornaments were carved by Matthews of Leeds. The organ was one of the largest in Europe with 5 manuals, each with 61 notes, a pedal organ with 30 notes and 6,500 pipes. Five hydraulic engines designed by David Joy of Leeds and situated in the basement of the Town Hall, supplied the wind for the organ. The organ is 50 feet high, 47 feet wide and 27 feet deep, and weighs almost 70 tons.

The organ was first played at the opening of the Town Hall by Queen Victoria in 1858.
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