HKG1921

Census IDHKG1921
LocationHong Kong, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
BuilderBlackett and Howden
SpecsII/? + Ped
ActionElectro-pneumatic

Little is known about this rebuilding by William Charlton Blackett (of Blackett and Howden) of Trice’s HKG1888, except that it must have occurred between 1917 (when Blackett arrived in Hong Kong) and 1920/21. It appears to have been a large-scale rebuild along the lines of his later work at St. John’s Cathedral (HKG1927a), keeping the two-manual specification, as well as Trice’s striking case (which is still in situ) and converting the organ to pneumatic action.

In the 1921 Dictionary of Organs and Organists, the entry for the “Roman Catholic Cathedral” gives “Built by Blackett and Howden. 2 Manuals”. The financial accounts for the Vicariate Apostolic of Hong Kong show that 75 dollars was spent on a harmonium in 1920, suggesting that this served while the organ was under reconstruction.

Blackett rebuilt the organ again in 1937-38, in part due to the deterioration of the organ gallery which had been infested with white ants. No specifications have survived from either rebuild.

In 1949 an unknown builder made some repairs. Some pipes (and possibly the console) from the derelict St. John’s Cathedral organ (rebuilt by Blackett in 1937) were donated for this purpose at the time that HKG1927a was dismantled, and other parts were obtained from Italy. The much-rebuilt organ was still functioning to some extent into the 1960s, but in the early 1970s it was dismantled and discarded, except for case. It now houses a Rogers electronic organ.

Some traces of the pneumatic action survive (see photos)

The facade of HKG1921 at present, with dummy pipes and modifications to the lateral towers.

Rogers dummy pipes fitted into Blackett and Howden’s (or Trice’s original fully pneumatic?) blocks for the facade, with inlet for pneumatic lead tubing.

Choir of the Preparatory Seminary in the cantoria during the rebuilding of HKG1921 in 1937/38 (they are in the middle of a radio broadcast.) Notice the ‘flying buttress’ (and no pipes) at the south end of the organ case, which has disappeared today.