History of the organ
Like other Presbyterian congregations, in the 19th Century Portaferry relied on a precentor (choir leader) and choir for the unaccompanied singing of the Metrical Psalms. However, in the late 1800s a harmonium was purchased and the singing of hymns was introduced to public worship. That instrument was inadequate for a building of this size and finally, after much prevarication, an instrument was installed by Mssrs Evans & Barr of Belfast.
Originally the action was pneumatic but around 1980 it was electrified by the Abbey Organ Company. Apart from that no significant work was done to the instrument until its rebuild in 2015.
The ethos of the organ restoration was to encourage the general public to explore and play the instrument. Everyone is welcome to come and have a go. Sit at the console and follow our digital guide to the instrument or pick a piece from our pre-recorded selection and listen to the instrument play itself.
In addition, much of its inner workings have been encased with glass - uniquely allowing a fascinating appreciation of the workings of the instrument. The organ loft also has a display illustrating how the organ works
Portico’s organ is based on the original Evans and Barr two manual instrument installed in 1917.
In 2015 it was completely rebuilt and extended by the Wells Kennedy Partnership.
The rebuild included not only a new case designed by Bill Maxwell and a new console (both built by Renatus of Devon) but also a completely new framework, soundboards, the addition of 2’ and mixture stops to the manuals and the expansion of the pedal department, mostly with digital stops.