Music at Buxton Methodist Church

Church Organ

Our organists play for us during services and community events and, while we enjoy the hymns we have sung and loved for many years, we are happy to try new worship songs and our services often have a variety of musical styles. Find out more about our organ below.

Church Choir

Our Church Choir leads the hymn-singing and sings an appropriate anthem or song most Sunday mornings, rehearsing at 10am in the Main Hall.

Our choir and instrumentalists make a valuable contribution to Churches Together in Buxton, joining in the Good Friday meditation of readings and music each year and leading the music at special united services.

Church Band

There are other musicians who contribute to worship by playing guitars, drums and violins in the Church Band, especially at our café-style ‘Praise@6’ service in the evening of the second Sunday in each month.

Church Orchestra

On special occasions an ad hoc orchestra is gathered of around fifteen string and wind-players who come from other churches in the area to celebrate Harvest, the Spring Fair etc.

Get Involved

New members are always welcome. For more information about music at Buxton Methodist Church, to play the organ, or to join the choir, band or orchestra, please contact us.

The Church Organ

1865 – The Conacher

The church was built in 1849. In 1865, a two manual organ by Conacher & Co. was installed.

1895 – The Young

Thirty years later, in 1895, the Conacher was replaced by a new, three manual Alexander Young & Sons instrument. It has 1200 individual pipes made of wood and metal, the largest of which is 16 feet long, three manuals (keyboards), (great, swell and choir), seven pedals and twenty-four speaking stops.

The Conacher was relocated the same year to the Derby Parish Church of St Paul, Chester Green[1].

1900s – Improvements

A Swell Octave coupler, a device which allows the pipes of one division to be played simultaneously from an alternative manual, and a Tremulant, a device which varies the wind supply, were added in 1909, their drawstops being placed above the Swell keyboard.

In 1947, the Pedal Organ, originally tracker, was converted to pneumatic action. Rushworth & Dreaper are likely to have done the job – deduced from the job number 1787 stamped on the touch-box. The wind tell-tale pulley is still in place on the console from when its bellows were operated manually – the walls of one corner of the chamber are covered with the names and remarks of generations of hand-blowers (pictured). The blowing handle and feeders are no longer there.

1985 – Building Works

In 1985, the church became structurally unsafe and a huge reconstruction project became necessary which involved the fitting of steel joists within all the walls and roof trusses to stabilise the building. During this work, some of the organ pipes were stored for safe-keeping by Rushworth & Dreaper, who also sealed the organ against dust penetration.

On returning the pipes and cleaning the organ, the leather tracker buttons were replaced with nylon.

2011 – Listing

This substantially-unaltered, splendid example of Alexander Young’s work is deserving of at least the Grade II* certificate given to it by the British Institute of Organ Studies in 2011, following its inspection in 2007, meaning its inclusion on the Historic Organ Listing Scheme.

Grade II* is for particularly important organs of more than special interest.


The organ is serviced three times a year by Harold Davies of Liverpool, something he has done since the early 1980s.

Each key on each stop must be checked and tuned: it therefore takes around four hours to do, with Harold stood inside the organ checking each pipe as an assistant plays the keys.

Our Organists

We are fortunate in currently having two organists who play for us – John (pictured) and Tom – and they are willing to tackle anything.

John has played the organ here since 1985 and Tom joined us in 2019, taking over from Mary, who played in churches for over 60 years, including Buxton Methodist Church since 1971. When she retired in 2018, she received a certificate for her contribution from Christian Creativity organisation, ArtServe (pictured).

She records her ‘transition’ in the following poem:

‘Pulling the Stops Out!’
by Mary Morten

I’ve played in Methodist Churches,
And in the C of E,
For Marriages and Funerals,
Services on Sunday.

The organs have been varied.
Manuals – one, two or three.
Our tracker to elect-ron-ic.
Foot pedals, necessary.

Sometimes an organ didn’t work.
Sometimes one squeaked and groaned.
Sometimes the keys refused to play.
Carry on – you do not moan.

The last Sunday in December
Twenty eighteen – a surprise.
I was organist at BMC,
Presentation organised.

A framed certificate was given
To me for 60 years
For playing in Buxton and in Hope.
I did keep back the tears!

Then an illustrated Bible,
A card – so many names.
Kind words delivered by a few.
And photos needing frames.

It didn’t stop at that – Oh no-
It hit the local paper,
Reporters ringing wanting more
Words, photos – what a caper!

A few days later, music friends
Arranged a special dinner,
Another card, an organ stop
For a wine bottle – a winner.

It’s always been a privilege
And a pleasure, I must say.
My fingers have dictated – STOP!
Oh well – let’s call it a day.

Technical Information

Structure & Sound

The swell box is high against the roof and rear of the chamber with the unenclosed choir organ beneath it and pedal pipes range the side walls. This all provides for a good scatter of the sound, even though a considerable amount must be lost in finding its way out.

All stops unite in splendid ensemble, and individually create fine variety. Rounded Diapason tone, clear Flutes, mild Strings, robust Trumpet reeds, and a splendid rolling pedal Open Diapason. “The tonal relationships between stops and between keyboards is just right – especially for the registering of French Romantic music (of both the soft and the loud variety). The first of the Great Open Diapasons is indeed “Large”, though still well-developed. The “Small” one is only marginally less so, while the Principal sits comfortably in between. The remaining Great upperwork (including the magnificent Mixture, which breaks back at Middle-C) matches the Principal. Lack of 16ft. tone on the Great is remedied by what, at first sight, may seem to be the rather pointless Choir to Great Suboctave: in actual fact the Choir Lieblich Gedact, being unenclosed and speaking out quite clearly, is able to provide a useful double for the Great as an alternative to coupling from the Swell. – Rodney Tomkins[1].

The reservoir leather is failing, but otherwise the organ is in good shape. A Y & Sons cast weights ring the reservoir table. The organ is a joy to hear and a joy to play. Its majestic Victorian sound an object of wide praise within the church and community.

An important element in our heritage” – Nicholas Thistlethwaite.

Organ Registration

Open Diapason Large 8 Lieblich Bourdon 16
Open Diapason Small 8 Open Diapason 8
Stopped Diapason Clarabella 8 Hohlflöte 8
Principal 4 Salcional 8
Harmonic Flute 4 Voix Celeste 8 TC
Fifteenth 2 Gemshorn 4
Mixture 3rks 15-19-22 Mixture 2rks 19-22
Trumpet 8 Cornopean 8
Hautboy 8
Lieblich Gedact 8 Open Diapason 16
Dulciana 8 Bourdon 16
Viol di Gamba 8
Lieblich Flöte 4
Clarionet 8 TC
                                                Tremulant (whole organ)
                                                Couplers: 5 unison; Sw Oct; Ch to Gt Suboc
                                                Compass: 56 / 30
                                                Action: mechanical (M) / pneumatic (P)
                                                Balanced swell pedal


See its entry on the National Pipe Organ Register here.

[1]  Historic Organs in Derbyshire. Rodney Tomkins, 1998.