£40,000 fundraising campaign launched to restore rare Tow Law church organ

Members of the organ restoration committee and St Joseph’s choir with the Harrison and Harrison organ. Frank Mcgurk, Adam Bell, Deborah Suddes, Mary Bell, Terry Hall, Agnes Taylor and Janet Hildreth

Members of the organ restoration committee and St Joseph’s choir with the Harrison and Harrison organ. Frank Mcgurk, Adam Bell, Deborah Suddes, Mary Bell, Terry Hall, Agnes Taylor and Janet Hildreth

First published in News

PARISHIONERS have launched a £40,000 fundraising drive to repair a rare 130-year-old church organ.

The Harrison and Harrison pipe organ at St Joseph’s RC Church in Tow Law is believed to be the first of its type to be installed at a Catholic church.

Thomas Harrison, founder of the organ-building firm, designed, built and installed the instrument in 1884.

Now worshippers at St Joseph’s have launched a fundraising drive to bring the organ back to its best after it spent more than 30 years sitting dormant.

David Golightly, chairman of the organ restoration committee, said: “This is an important instrument that needs some attention.

“It is a vital part of the church and is significant both in the church’s history and that of organs.

“The organ is struggling at the moment but it does have a very Baroque sound and if restored I believe will have good historic value.”

The organ has been Grade II* listed status by the British Institute of Organ Studies who said it is an “instrument of importance to the national heritage and one deserving careful preservation for the benefit of future generations”.

Harrison and Harrison, who are still based in Meadowfield near Durham, completed a survey of the organ in March which found “the organ is ageing and the need for restoration is clear”.

The report said: “This will be major work but the organ will respond well to the treatment and can be expected to have long useful life once all is complete.”

The whole organ, from pipes and pedals to keys and casing would need an overhaul.

The project would cost about £34,500 to complete although the committee are aiming to raise about £40,000 to cover any additional costs.

The Harrison and Harrison report said: “The work we propose will be extensive but long-lasting and there is every reason to expect that, once overhauled, the instrument will still be giving service in another hundred years.”

The pipes are available to be sponsored and a fundraising concert featuring the act, Linda Matthews and Johnson, will be held at the church at noon on Saturday, June 14, with tickets costing £4.

For more information or tickets, contact Terry Hall on 01388-763430 or email terryhall479@btinternet.com.

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