The pipe organ in the Cathedral was manufactured by William Hill and Son of London and is the “little sister” to the Hill and Son organ in the Sydney Town Hall . Both organs were shipped to Australia and installed concurrently.
The organ has but 28 stops in comparison with the 127 of the Sydney Town Hall organ but the general tonal effect is of a high standard. The organ is installed in a special loft above the northern transept.
The organ was installed in 1890 and was the gift of Mrs. Dalglish. The total cost at the time was Ł1,350 ($2,700).
On the completion of the organ installation a notable organist, Mr. T.W. Best, of Liverpool , England , gave a recital on the 23rd September, 1890. Mr. Best was brought out especially for the opening of the Sydney Town Hall organ.
The organ was originally powered by hand operated bellows which may still be plainly seen. Later, it has been said, it was driven by water power which operated a large pair of bellows which are still in existence. The large bellows appear to have been operated by a type of hydraulic ram with which its valves alternately opened and shut. Whilst fairly heavy on water consumption it would provide a positive bellows drive. The only evidence of water power left is the large water meter still outside.
Later, possibly during the First World War, with electric power then available, an electric motor was fitted to drive the bellows.
In 1979 a modern silent electric blower was installed next to the organ in the loft. The old bellows and motor and switch gear on the ground floor were all dismounted and removed.
Several maintenance contractors have been associated with the organ over the years, including John B. Holroyd, Sydney and in 1938 Hill, Norman and Beard (Aust) Pty Ltd.
In 1970-80 the organ was completely restored by John S. Parker of Melbourne and Peter D.G. Jewkes of Sydney . The final paragraph of Mr. Jewkes’ report is quoted:
“At the time of writing, the work remaining involves many adjustments of the organ’s action and re-installing the pipes. Sounds have already been heard from the gallery. Once the organ is completed a settling in period of up to twelve months is expected, after which the organ will again rank as one of the finest in Australia, and undoubtedly the best example of a large Romantic Pipe Organ still in original condition, and ideally suited to leading the worship of God in this Parish.”
Among the permanent and better known organists of the Cathedral have been: George McConnell, Henry F. Caspers, William F. Caspers, Edward Aubrey, Miss de Lauret, Madam Lenebach, Frank Cowburn, Marjorie Hasler and Sister Bernadette (RSM).
At the present time the organ is played by a number of willing musicians – Greg O’Keefe, Moira Sheridan, Steven Wade and Bruce Guy.
Information from “The Centenary of Sts. Peter & Paul’s Cathedral, Goulburn N.S.W. 1887-1987”. Produced and edited by the late Stephen J. Tazewell and published by The Centenary Committee of Sts. Peter and Paul’s Parish, 15th May, 1987.