History of the Church Organs at St. James' Church Little Clacton
In November 1861 Sir Stephen Glynn mentions an organ in the gallery. The next mention was in 1898 when the accounts record the organist was paid £1 a quarter.
In 1899 Gildersleeve of Bury St. Edmunds cleaned the organ and in 1903 Speechley and Son tuned and regulated it.
In1904 a bill from Mr.Beard states ‘to out of pocket expenses to cure cypherings 15/6’.
In 1905, N and B repaired the bellows and 1906 Thomas Jones, Upper Holloway fixed new rods to swell pedal and lined and repaired it. By 1909 the organ was looked after by Bedwell, a Cambridge organ works with a branch in Bournemouth.
If this was the same organ as in 1861 it must have been in a poor state as a fund was started in 1917 for cleaning. In 1919 Mr. Bedwell was asked for estimates. Whether this work was done is not known but in 1937 the PCC thought another new or good second hand organ should be bought.
In 1939 the accounts record that a deposit of £100 was paid to Bedwell and Son as a deposit and in April that a final payment of £60 was paid.
At the same time it would appear from our records that the Rev. Wontner and Mr. Cheeld, the organist at the time, were also in correspondence with Bishop and Sons of Finchley Rd. London.
Whether or not the actual organ was supplied by Bedwells or Bishops is not clear but we do know that the organ put in was from Waltham Abbey and was re-erected in St. James in 1939. This is illustrated in the enclosed photograph.
In 1946, Bedwells was still looking after the organ and it may then have been electrified as there are bills for the blower case.
This organ was a grand organ and necessitated the former Singers Gallery at the West end of the church being removed. It was a Walker organ and is said to have made ‘an absolutely splendid sound’.
Sadly, this fine Walker organ had something of a sad history. It occupied the West Gallery and when the interior of the church was re-ordered, the original intention was to store the instrument and reinstate it in the church. It was stored in containers outside the church building and at this period suffered considerable vandalism- so much so that it was impossible to restore it to the church. Eventually it was sold to Christchurch, Greenwich for £200. A smaller organ was installed, the gallery was once more opened up and this is the current situation as this is written. (Oct. 2007)