The case at St Andrew the Less, Barnwell, Cambridge (referred to above) is an important case. It dates from 1856 and was designed by the Revd John Gibson. Part of its importance lies in the fact that the central embossed pipe is the first surviving modern example, completed one year before that in Sir John Sutton's organ originally at West Tofts (now missing). This means Gibson reintroduced embossed pipes to Britain, something not seen after the seventeenth century.
The Barnwell organ is apparently now thought to be the work of George Dawson in 1856, not Miller, whose organ building business was not established until 1858, although he is believed to have had a music business before. A newspaper advertisement proves the 1858 date, some two years later than had been thought.
Dawson is criticised for poor workmanship; I think erroneously . His assembly work in 1857 on the West Tofts organ was the subject to a change in fashion. The 1881 work by Miller was to change the short octave compass on the old lower manual for a conventional keyboard and to add a short compass Swell to provide for variety in the service. A newspaper cutting makes this clear.
THE ORGAN - A special service was held at the parish Church on Tuesday evening, to celebrate the re-opening of the organ, which has been rebuilt by Mr. Miller of Cambridge. The old organ, built about 20 years ago by Mr. Dawson, of Cambridge, was a small one, and of peculiar construction, the lower octave of the bass being as is called “short octaves,” some of the large pipes being wanting, because they could not be got into the case. This defect has now been remedied. The interior mechanism is entirely new. All the old pipes have been retained, the number of stops has been increased, and so arranged as to form swell and great organs. The old case has been enlarged and further ornamented, but its old shape has been retained. The wall at the back has been cut away so as to admit of the larger pipes and the octave of pedal pipes, and a new horizontal bellows has been added. The old organ was sufficiently large to conduct the musical portion of the service, but the new instrument has the advantage of giving the organist a better opportunity of displaying his musical abilities. In tone and power the new organ surpasses the old. A large congregation were present, as were several of the neighbouring clergy. The prayers were intoned by the Rector, the Rev. Prebendary Sutton. The Rev. A.F. Sutton, the eldest son of the Rector, read the first lesson. An excellent appropriate sermon was preached by the Rev. R. White, Rector of Little Bardfield, from the text “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is to come.” The anthem was Sir Gore Ouseley’s, “From the rising of the sun until the going down of the same.” At the close of the service Mr. H. Morgan, the organist, played a selection of music, and ably showed the capabilities of the instrument.
I think work elsewhere may have been deemed necessary to increase the pedal compass or add a pedal stop. A re-appraisal of Dawson is needed.
The church at Vijvekapelle, near Bruges in Belgium (mentioned above) was built between 1865 and 1867 with Jean de Bethune as its architect. The organ by Hooghuys is in a case which was built in Bethune’s workshops and was probably mostly designed by him, although it has been suggested that the case was made after an old Dutch model. Sir John Sutton is known to have been involved but Hillary Davidson has pointed out the similarity of some parts of the case (the cornice, and the mass of flat pinnacles above it) to that in St Andrew the Less, Cambridge, (since dated to 1856 and attributed to Gibson) and this also has been pointed out above). He might also have noted the closely carved pipe shades and the provision of wing doors. The two cases have characteristics that the Revd John Gibson was later to use in his 1876 organ at King’s Stanley along with features of the Kiedrich organ case. Might Gibson have been involved with Sutton in the case design at Vijvekapelle?
The Great Bardfield case by Miller has recently been dated to 1878 (which is considerably later than had been previously thought). It replaced an organ of 1841 by Russell. I think I read somewhere that the 'side wings' are even later.