Organs at St. James and St Basils

Organs at J’s and B’s

Come and hear both the 1931 Walker Organ and the Wetheringsett Tudor Style Organ! The stunning 1931 Walker organ at St James’ and St Basil’s Church was extensively restored by David Wood in 2016. The Church itself opened in 1930 and is recognised as a masterpiece amongst the great churches of the Arts and Crafts movement. During 2020/2021 we are privileged to be hosting the Wetheringsett Tudor style organ!

Walker organ information

Explore Churches / Spirit in Stone
The organ was built for the new church by JW Walker and Sons and has one of only two Celestial organs in the country. The organ pipes are located high above the church, the main organ in the north nave of the church and the celestial pipes in the south aisle. The sound is unique and greatly admired. The church was built for music and the building seems to sing; during concerts and occasional services of evensong

The Walker Celestial Organ
A Description of the Organ by P.J.L. Rickinson
in BIOS REPORTER, JULY 1981, Vol. V, No. 3
The Fenham organ was built for the new church by J W Walker and Sons in 1931. It has four manual departments (two on one manual) and Pedals, thirty four speaking stops, and an unusual layout which makes it remarkably effective in this large church. The plan of the church is of two equal parallel naves; at the east of the north nave is the altar, and at the east of the south nave is the Lady Chapel with the tower above. The main organ is placed in a chamber above the vestry, facing into the north nave at the head of the congregation. The Celestial Organ, and one pedal stop are in the tower, speaking into the south nave. The console (originally in a bird‘s nest adjacent to the main organ – a terrible position, according to a previous organist) is approximately equidistant between the two sections, at floor level beside the south choir stalls. In keeping with the rest of the church, built by Sir James Knott, no expense seems to have been spared in the construction of the organ. Apart from the buried position of the choir organ, all speaks straight into the church. The unfashionable stop-key console is beautifully made, and most comfortable. The sound that comes out is quite unique.

Yumpu – the original Organ leaflet

National Pipe Organ Register
Extensive Organ specification plus further comment
2009 – organ reported as “getting to the point of not being fit to
play satisfactorily” (RDH);
For later survey see P01076;

Walker organ refurbishment

Heritage Fund Grants
Repair and renovation of an outstanding organ
21/09/2012 NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, North East St James’ and St Basil’s Church, Fenham

Wood Pipe Organ Builders, 
Repair and renovation of an outstanding organ

Wikipedia Nigel Church
Nigel B. Church is a British organ builder who was based in Stamfordham, Northumberland from 1971 to 1998.

Newly refurbished concert including the re-formed J’s and B’s Choir
The church of St. James’ and St. Basil’s boasts a spectacular organ that has been restored to it’s full glory – thanks to a generous HLF grant.

In a concert celebrating the organ and newly reformed choir (Saturday 8th April 2017 – Prices £8 – £10), Mike Dutton played a remarkable concerto for organ by Francis Poulenc, with an orchestra formed for the occasions.

J’s and B’s choir eventually evolved to the Newcastle Choral Society. Happily they are back, singing Haydn’s ‘Little Organ Mass’ and a range of other works by Mozart, Mendelssohn and others.

Wetheringsett Tudor style organ information

Goetze & Gwynn
The Wetheringsett organ has moved from Eton College to St James and St Basil, Fenham in Newcastle where Charles Wooler and Magnus Williamson, Professor of Early Music at Newcastle University, are organising events. Magnus has been associated with this organ from the beginning.

The new organ is based on the soundboard found in recent years at Wetheringsett in Suffolk (hence the name). It was discovered during alterations to a farmhouse, and may have been a dairy door.