History of the Organ
Much prolonged and heated debate, including the resignation of one elder, preceded the installation of the organ in 1880, some fifteen years after the first organ was installed in a Presbyterian church in Edinburgh.
The organ, by Brindley & Foster, was originally located in the centre of the chancel, as seen in the photograph. It was rebuilt and relocated in 1923, close to its current position, and rebuilt again in 1963 at a cost of £3,000 when a new console was installed. A further major overhaul was undertaken in 2002.
The organ has 24 speaking stops and had 1,024 pipes when first installed.
St Giles Room
South End Window: Dedicated in memory of Charles Morton WS, an Edinburgh solicitor, amongst many other claims to fame, he acted on the instructions of Prince Albert in the purchase of Balmoral. His company Morton Fraser continues to this day.
Screen: The centre panel records the Union of the Grange Church, West St Giles’ Church and the Warrender Church to form Marchmont St Giles’ Parish Church in 1972.
The left-hand panel features an image of the Patron Saint of Scotland, St Andrew, while the right-hand panel is dedicated to the memory of the members of the congregation of West St Giles Church who lost their lives during World War II.
The Church Spire and Bell
The spire, which is 145 feet high (48m) houses the bell which rings the hours during the day, and can be rung to announce worship or other events as required. The spire was the fifteenth tallest structure in Edinburgh in a survey undertaken in 2007, and is one of the many sights on Edinburgh’s cherished skyline when viewed from Blackford Hill, Edinburgh Castle or Holyrood Park. The top of the spire stands some 460 feet above sea level.
A bell was cast in London by John Warner & Sons in 1871 and is marked with the Royal Coat of Arms and a patent mark. The bell measures 45 inches (1.25 metres) round and weighs about 17 cwt (850 kilos) and its voice is described as the flat of F. A Mr Reeves had been engaged as bell ringer at £7 per annum, and he remained a member of the church until his death in 1916. His daughter, born soon after his appointment, still attended the church at the time of the centenary in 1971.
An electric system now operates the bell for all purposes having first been installed in 1946. It is hung for full-circle ringing in original wooden fittings between a pair of beams – clock hammer on one side, electrically-operated external hammer on the other.
Following the spread of the railway network in the mid 19th century, it was necessary to standardise time throughout the U.K. rather than having local time set everywhere. By 1855, the railways adopted GMT and public clocks enabled the public to know the correct time: a signal from Greenwich helped to maintain conformity. The church archive gives some detail of the Council decision in 1911 to adopt the clock (which was in the original design) following a decision to illuminate the dials at night.
It noted the average cost of maintenance of the clock was of the order of £2.10s per annum (£2.50). It was calculated that the cost of mantles etc. would be £12 per annum. Electrification of the clock followed in the 1930s. Of the original clock, only the pendulum and an un-inscribed cast-iron bed remain. The pendulum measured some 35 feet – although still in position but minus its weight, it is no longer used.