St. Bartholomew's, Armley

The Schulze Organ Story



Christopher Newton, (left), assistant organist for over 40 years, reflects: “It is a measure of the reputation of this organ that in 1986, the post of Organist should attract a musician of the stature of Graham Barber. In addition to developing the regular series of concerts at St. Bartholomew's, he has shown great energy and enthusiasm in promoting awareness of this instrument. He has made two solo recordings, including its first appearance on CD, and the Sheffield Philharmonic Choir recorded a cassette of Christmas music - a reflection of the merits of St. Bartholomew's as a more general recording venue.
Listening to the Armley Schulze Organ, you may well think that it sounds remarkably healthy. If so, then this is a tribute to J. T. Jackson, who somehow manages to keep it in playing order, and to the musicianship, skill and sheer ingenuity - sometimes well beyond the call of duty - of those who play it. Finally, it is a tribute to Edmund Schulze, whose genius shines through the organ's many - temporary - shortcomings.”

Graham Barber, (left), wrote an Introduction to the fund-raising Gala Concerts he organised in September and October, 1990:

The Schulze Organ here at St. Bart's is of world-wide significance. It is partly the responsibility of the parish community, and no custodians could have been more unswerving in aim or more assiduous in effort to secure its preservation; but it is also a civic and, indeed, a national responsibility, which is why our appeal for £300,000 has been placed on a broad platform. We are glad to say that the Fund is progressing well.
In the last few years we have seen it grow to over £50,000 and we have good cause for believing that we are on the edge of a significant breakthrough which would bring the target figure within striking distance.

We must not forget that you are here for a musical celebration. I would like to thank all those who have made these events possible, and especially the musicians for giving up their time and talents. Welcome to St. Bartholomew's and to these Gala Concerts! I hope you will enjoy the musical feast we have in store for you, and thank you for donating so generously to the appeal.”

The Rev. Nicholas Plant, Vicar, 1982-1991, added:

The Church of St. Bartholomew stands as a symbol of the beauty and grandeur of God's Presence in Creation, as an expression of His participation in the Fullness of Worship.

In the 1970s, part of the received wisdom was that church buildings and their contents were at best purely functional necessities, and at worst a positive hindrance to the life and body of Christ. It would now appear that the pendulum is swinging the other way and in this parish we try to reflect this new mode of thought. The Church of St. Bartholomew has a value which goes beyond its own narrow confines. It is used for Worship, Recreation, Teaching, the Arts, Community Activity, for Celebration and for Commemoration, and as a focus for Care and Compassion. Of course, it continues to speak of the other, the Holy, Christ's Presence in His World and our need to respond.

This brochure is about our Appeal for the Schulze Organ, but I feel it important that we should not view this magnificent instrument in isolation but see it as part of a total theology stemming from our vision of Christ and His relation to our Church. As I have tried to show, the Church is a symbol of Christ's Presence within this community of Armley and the City of Leeds. Surely it is right then that within the church building we should seek to incorporate the best that Man can offer whether in words, music or material things. Not only does the Schulze organ provide us with the opportunity of listening to superb musical sounds for their own sake, but music (even for those of us who are totally unmusical!) can, I believe, speak to us as a vehicle of divine meaning, whether in times of sadness or exultation, despair or hope - the experience of man is that music can raise our hearts in joy and bring comfort in sorrow.

The Schulze organ has, I believe, a further role. It is very easy in an area such as this - that just as over a century ago has more than its share of problems, like poor housing, unemployment, vandalism and deprivation - for people to feel isolated and unwanted. For them to have something such as the Schulze organ that draws folk from all over the country to their church is a great source of inspiration. Links can be built up, fellowship established and a greater sense of integration and value felt within our community. Hence a wider, more catholic conception of the relationship of the Arts to religion can be seen to operate, to the benefit of all concerned. I hope you enjoy your visit to St. Bart's and thank you for your generosity.”

The Gala Concert of the 29th September welcomed four internationally acclaimed organists:

Nicolas Kynaston

Francis Jackson

Gillian Weir

Graham Barber


Nicolas Kynaston

Francis Jackson

Gillian Weir & Nicolas Kynaston

Graham Barber

Francis Jackson

Graham Barber

Nicolas Kynaston

Graham Barber & Francis Jackson

Graham Barber

Gillian Weir

Allegro Maestoso

Allegro in Bb
Il Spozalizio

Adagio for a Musical Clock

Toccata-Prelude “Vom Himmel Hoch”
Cantilène from Sonata No.11, Op.148


Chorale Prelude “In Dir ist Freude”

Fantasie III in C
Tu es Petra

Nocturne (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

Fantasy on “Sine Nomine”

Finale (Symphonie No.1)


Felix Mendelssohn
Franz Liszt (arr. Jackson)

Ludwig van Beethoven

Garth Edmundson
Josef Rheinberger

Percy Whitlock

J. S. Bach

Camille Saint-Saëns
Henri Mulet

Felix Mendelssohn (arr. Barber)

Francis Jackson

Henri Mulet
Louis Vierne

The above Recital was sponsored by National Westminster Bank PLC

The Choral Concert on Sunday, 28
th October, was given by the Leeds Philharmonic Chorus and
Members of the English Northern Philharmonia


David Greed
Philip O’Reilly
Rachel Copley
Graham Barber

The three works performed were:

Blest Pair of Sirens
Five Mystical Songs

Charles H. H. Parry
Ralph Vaughan-Williams
Gabriel Faur

The Appeal which appeared in the Gala Concert brochure sums up the situation of the organ at this time:

Why do we need £300,000?

“Considering that the mechanism of the organ was last renewed in 1905, it is surprising that the organ still functions at all. One can not praise too highly the excellent quality of workmanship shown by Binns when he replaced the original actions (systems for transmitting the music from keyboard to pipes) with tubular-pneumatic action. However, this action is now excessively worn and extremely slow to react. It continually frustrates the performer's musical intentions and often simply can't cope with the demands being made on it. The regulation of individual manuals is uneven so that to attempt to play an evenly-spaced series of notes is often hazardous. Besides the problems of the action, there are many pipes not working. The Echo division is virtually unusable, because so many notes are not speaking, due to decay in the leatherwork. The same is happening to the Swell, in particular the lowest octave of the Geigen Principal. Many of the pedal notes are not speaking, in particular those of the Open Wood 16 and Sub Bass 32. There are continual faults connected with the manual to pedal couplers, and there are numerous leaks in the wind supply. There is a considerable amount of rust and corrosion of the metal pipes, and the whole organ is covered in a layer of dust and grime.

Given that the organ remains tonally untouched, and that the specification has not been altered, a complete historic restoration, such as that proposed by honorary organ consultant Ralph Downes, CBE, in 1974, is totally feasible. This would entail reverting to trackers to the Choir and Echo Organs, and pneumatic lever to the Great, Swell and Pedal Organs. It would be necessary to dismantle the sound-boards and rebuild them as well as to clean and restore all the pipes, remaking those that were irredeemable - all this using 19th-century organ-building techniques. The case would also need to cleaned and the front pipes polished. All the wind trunking and blowing plant would need a thorough overhaul. Clearly, this is a very specialised operation, which is why it is expensive, but the historic importance of the instrument is such that it would be negligent to pursue a compromised course. When restored, the organ would rank among the finest 19th-century instruments in Europe. It would stand as a tribute to the munificence and vision of all those who have contributed to its preservation – to the Church, to individual and corporate benefactors, and to the City. It would, of course, continue to be an instrument of supreme quality for the enhancement of worship at St. Bartholomew's, where it has always immeasurably enriched the beauty and solemnity of the Anglican rite. It could also become the focus for thousands of visitors from far and wide who would be able to hear and marvel at the stirring and uplifting sounds of the mighty Schulze organ. Please help us to transform this vision into reality.”

The story moves on with exciting news on two fronts. The Organ received a most generous legacy in 1990, and in 1995, our Vicar, Rev. Timothy Lipscomb, set about applying for a lottery grant from English Heritage to restore the Church.

Neither Organ or Church elements of this proved an easy passage!

Meanwhile, it is fitting to remember those who did not see the results of their labours:

Marjorie Brown - it was with great sadness that our meticulous secretary, Marjorie, died suddenly in 1991. A recital was given by Graham Barber, Chris Newton and Arnold Mahon at her memorial service, a fitting tribute to her tireless work.

Ted and Vera Rhoades, regular attendees at our Concerts, were “roped in” to help. Ted loved the organ, and died knowing that the restoration was to happen. They died within weeks of each other, early in 2002.

Harold Franklin took over the management of the sales at our Concerts, and was highly regarded by all. He was destined not to hear the triumphant sounds of the Organ, which was being dismantled in June, 2002, and, in fact, many of its pipes lay in the North Aisle, perhaps in silent tribute to a good friend and servant.

Dr. Kenneth Johnstone from Kenneth’s funeral service (29th November, 2004) with the kind permission of his family.
was born in Leeds to a Scottish mother - a teacher, and an English father - an accountant. An only child, he was educated by his Mother until he was seven. He used to go to the kitchen asking for something to mend, quickly developing many skills - piano playing, photography and woodwork. As a child, he asked impossible questions about the organ during service. He acquired his first organ in his teens and played hymns at his aunt's Sunday School, accounting for his collection of hymn books.

His ambition was to be an organ builder, but his father said that he would not be able to make a living. He was sent to the University of Leeds to study bacteriology (the first to take this degree) so that he could contribute to his father's cheese factory. In parallel, he studied medicine, gaining honours in both degrees. He returned to the Bacteriology Department to gain his PhD. He became Reader in Public Health Bacteriology, managing skilfully to relinquish all routine diagnostic microbiology and to focus on his research. He retired at the age of 60 in 1970, having inspirationally lectured to the next generation of microbiologists, carried out innovative research into micro-manipulation of bacteria and authored the standard text on his micro-manipulation techniques.

Kenneth was an old soul, having such a wide range of skills and interests. First - at least until he met Sheila - was organs, including design, playing, listening, and research. He wrote a history of the Armley Schulze organ. He designed his own organ, which was built by Davies of Northampton, and graced his hall until 1985.

Then there were churches - a tour of a cathedral with Kenneth was an education. His family also often went to concerts and recitals in churches as well as in Leeds Town Hall.

Essentially a man of peace, Kenneth attended Carlton Hill Friends Meeting, being a staunch member of the Society of Friends ever since. During the war he registered as a conscientious objector and was accepted conditionally on continuing his work in the Bacteriology Department. He taught himself to play the flute lest he should become separated from his beloved organ.

Beneath his quiet, unassuming nature, Kenneth belied a huge intellect, a passion for music and a deep integrity. He thought a great deal and said very little. Death was very peaceful in his sleep at home in bed. We are grateful to him and for him.”

It is so sad that he was too ill to hear the restored organ, but he died knowing that the work was done – hopefully, he is hearing it now.


How to find us

Wesley Road, Armley, Leeds, LS12 1SR 

To make a regular contribution to the Schulze Organ Maintenance Fund,
by Standing Order,


£20.00, payable on 15th March each year.
by Standing Order,

For Organ Concerts around the country, visit:















Organ History M. Collins