Construction of St. Magnus Cathedral was started in 1137 and was to be "One of the Finest Churches the north had ever seen". The building towers above Kirkwall with its distinctive red sandstone hue.
During the 1926 restoration of the Cathedral, Henry Willis & Sons installed a new 3-manual organ situated within a decorative screen designed by George Mackie Watson. The detached console was situated in the south choir aisle. This is the same year as the construction of the mighty Willis organ in Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral.
By 1969 the organ was suffering the from the vicissitudes of time and underwent a rebuild. At this time the Choir Organ was remodelled as a positif organ and the console was turned through 90 degrees. In 2001 a new Solid State note-switching and capture system was installed. This year the organ is being Cleaned and Overhauled, together with the strengthening and repair of many of the reed pipes.