Early in 1937 the authorities at Canterbury Cathedral enquired whether the volume of a Hammond organ would be sufficient to fill that vast building. This was answered in the affirmative, together with an offer to demonstrate it in the Cathedral at a nominal fee. The offer was accepted.
Owing to the great size of Canterbury Cathedral, the Hammond Organ's main trouble was not the creation of reverberation, but its elimination, for the building possesses a reverberation (or echo) period
of approximately nine seconds. It was immediately apparent that special equipment would have to be constructed, so that the very narrow openings in the stonework could be utilised for direct sound projection in order to maintain the balance of tone.
After the changes an improvement was noticeable, but was not made public for some time because a competitive organ manufacturer claimed the right to cornpete. A quite substantial pipe organ (not electronic) was duly installed in the opposite triforium of the nave, whence it was picked up by microphones, amplified by one or two amplifier units to the order of about 400 watts, and then spoken through large numbers of speakers.
The method of testing resolved itself into one very large service with about four thousand people present to hear one organ and to listen to the criticisms arising therefrom—and then, at a later date, another large service using the other organ. Even that test, however, did not produce a decision. Eventually the Dean and Chapter heard both organs more or less privately (played by Mr. Gerald Knight) on the same morning. They had no knowledge of which organ was being used first or test, and we believe we are correct in stating that the last organ was chosen unanimously. Mr. Knight was then asked which he preferred—he also said the last, and that was the Hammond.