Glasgow University's Great War Project

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The Memorial Chapel Organ

We were asked about the Chapel Organ so here’s some more information!09 - 312 Chapel ExhibitionDSC_9110 - Chapel Organ Blog

In 1927 Lord Maclay, the shipowner, gifted an organ in memory of his two eldest sons, Ebenezer and William, both of whom died in the Great War. The organ was created by the great makers, Henry Willis & Sons,* and Sir John J. Burnet designed the casing. The two figures on the organ case are those of St. Francis and St. Cecilia, patron saints of music, which were most likely carried out by Archibald Dawson.

Burnet's design of the organ case.

Burnet’s design of the organ case.

Following the opening and dedication of the Memorial Chapel on 4 October 1929, The Glasgow Herald’s music critic wrote:

The new organ, which has been generously gifted by Lord Maclay, is a three-manual Willis instrument incorporating all the latest artistic and mechanical possibilities…Saturday’s recital established the excellent acoustical properties of the new building, and demonstrated the fine tonal qualities of the new instrument. The Full Organ is well balanced, and provides the right combination of richness and brightness, while it is admirably proportioned to the size of the Chapel. (Read the full article here)

D09 - 312 Chapel ExhibitionDSC_9126espite undergoing major renovation and rebuilding in 1977, the case, console and much of the pipe work remains original. The organ was most recently refurbished by Harrison & Harrison of Durham in 2005. (Click here to download the Organ’s Specifications)

*Interestingly, Burnet had consulted with organ makers Hill, Norman & Beard for twelve years but when the University Court came to commission the work, they offered the project to the rival firm of Henry Willis & Sons.

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