St Martins of Tours


The Organ

History of St Martin's Organ

The organ at St Martin’s is the combined work of various organ builders over a period of 140 years. The original organ was built in 1870 by William Hill & Son and installed in the newly constructed church of St Erkenwald's, Southend-on-Sea in 1907. It was extensively rebuilt by A Noterman of Shepherd's Bush, London and completed in 1959. The organ project took six years to complete. By 1959 Noterman estimated it would cost £25,000 to put in new.

The console has four manuals and over a hundred stops of which 60 are speaking stops employing almost 3000 pipes. These include pipes from the organ built in 1907 by A Hunter & Son for the Congregational Church in Newbury in addition to the pipes from the Hill organ, and new pipe work by Noterman. The present curator, Andrew Stevens maintains that the bulk of the pipework in the West Organ is that of William Hill.

During the 1980's the organ was under the care of the organ builders, Hill, Norman and Beard and the action was changed to the latest electronic technology. This allows for organists to programme the pistons to their own stop combination requirements and stops can be easily changed at the touch of a button.

In 1980 the organ now occupying St Martin’s was removed from the redundant church of St Erkenwald's. This was achieved with financial help from the Basildon District Council and local industry.

The organ was transferred by Monk and Gunther. There are two contrasting sections to the organ; the main West Organ, a large, traditional English 19th century design, and the Chancel Organ which has a more intimate chamber organ quality. The pipe fronts were designed by Sir Walter Tapper, architect of St Erkenwald's Church (see

Since 2000 Dr Michael Lowe has been the principal organist. Reginald Lane became the next organ builder to be responsible for tuning and maintenance until his retirement in 2009 at which time Andrew Stevens took over and proposed a staged programme of remedial work indicated as becoming necessary because of the age of the instrument.

Subsequently further work on the organ by Andrew Stevens, organ builder, has been undertaken to replace aging leatherwork and make tonal improvements including the replacement of the Great Mixture and the Swell Mixture to give brighter sounding upperwork chorus. Recently a 32 foot Trombone has been added to the pedal division.

It was generally recognised that the Chancel Organ was never very satisfactory tonally. It has recently been entirely replaced by pipe work from the Swell Division from the redundant United Reformed Church in Kings Road, Westcliff-on-Sea.Dr. David Frostick has been responsible for the revoicing of this Division together with voicing of the 32 foot Trombone.

A continuous programme of maintenance remains a commitment of St Martin’s congregation to honour the worth of a large, fine organ of special significance in South Essex.An Organ Fund has been set up and St Martin’s people are very grateful to Andrew Stevens for all he has done so far. We are keen to continue the maintenance of this special instrument and all donations to the Organ Fund are gratefully received.

Two short demonstration videos of the organ made by Darren Symes,organist are available on YouTube and can be accessed from this website by clicking on the .link below.

Nov 2021 Warren Symes Plays the organ at St Martin's Church,Basildon,Essex.  Click on link.... In 2 parts












Chancel  Organ and Console                                             Choir, Great and Swell Organs in the Gallery





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