Portsmouth music scene

The Portsmouth Music Scene

The first Guildhall Organ

Portsmouth Guildhall is the biggest events venue in the Hampshire city of Portsmouth in England. The original building at this location, completed in 1890, was designed in the neo-classical style by architect William Hill, who had earlier been responsible for the design of the town hall in Bolton. Local Architect Charles Bevis in partnership with Hill directed the construction, Hill died before the completion of the building with Bevis adding to the design. The building was originally called the Town Hall, but on 21 April 1926 it was announced that Portsmouth would be raised to the status of a city and the town hall was renamed the Guildhall. The building had a capacity of up to 2000. It was located in the city centre of Portsmouth, very close to the Portsmouth and Southsea railway station.

The Grand Organ

The grand organ was built and installed by Gray and Davison of London in 1889,
but it does not appear on the British Organ Archive listings.
A similar Gray and Davison organ still resides in Leeds City Hall.
great organ1
The specification of the original Gray & Davison Organ, said to be built 1889 was very unusual as it was of 61-note manual key compass even in 1889 - VERY forward looking! The key actions were Barker Lever to the Great, Swell & Solo with the Choir being completely mechanical (Tracker). The wind was raised by feeders, crank driven by an A.C. electric motor.

On the 18th May 1922, shortly before the Town became a City and the Town Hall became the Guildhall, a tender was submitted by Henry Willis & Sons of Liverpool, and other companies for the rebuilding of the organ to a pre-drawn specification by J. Arthur Meale (the Organist of Westminster Central Hall, London). The compay of James Jepson Binns eventually got the contract.
The Portsmouth Town Clerk at the time was F. Sparks.






The New 1959 John Compton Organ


14th October 1959

P1080064x P1080066x

Peter Gould, Formerly Director of Music at Derby Cathedral for 32 years before 'retiring' to Portsmouth in 2015
playing the Guildhall John Compton Organ on 22nd February 2018

Click here for Guildhall 1959 to date
Click here for Guildhall 1959 opening
Click here for Guildhall Tickets and Posters


Return to the index page

Other City organs