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Bid to restore organ that was dedicated to WWI soldiers

26 October, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Jessica Plummer, Daniel Murray and Ann Devine at the organ that the St Mellitus’s Church parishioners hope can be restored to help inspire a new generation of organists

ITS grand sounds once filled St Mellitus’s Church in Tollington Park. But during the last two decades, the church’s magnificent organ has deteriorated to the point where it is now barely able to utter a note, writes Samantha Booth.

Built around 1920 by London firm Alfred Hunter, it was dedicated to the 221 men who served – and the 46 who died – in the First World War.

As the centenary of the end of the war approaches next month, a group of parishioners are pushing forward with a fundraising drive to give the organ a new lease of life.

Ann Devine, who is working on the restoration project, was a pupil at nearby Christ the King Primary School when the school’s music teacher would often play the organ.

An illustration of how the restored organ could look. PHOTO: MANDER ORGANS

Ms Devine, 56, said: “Mrs Mountford must have been playing it for at least 20 or 30 years. I’m one of the last of the generation who remembers what it sounded like when it was at its peak. It was just the most fantastic sound – to hear the whole church resound with it is an incredible sensation.”

Parishioner Daniel Murray said that during the mid-1900s, boards were installed that covered the organ’s pipes, but these would be removed as part of the revamp.

Mr Murray, who is also on the project board, said: “I think it’s really important we restore this. Part of the project has been about archiving the stories around the men, too.

How the church organ looked before it fell into disrepair

“If we aren’t successful in getting funding, we can’t afford to get it restored as a parish, and it will be mothballed. It would be such a shame as it’s such a fabulous instrument.”

The full restoration of the organ is expected to cost around £430,000 in total. Some initial funding was received from the Heritage Lottery Fund and those involved in the project are now putting a bid together to pay for all of the work, which will also need about £10,000 in donations.

When completed, it is hoped they can offer music lessons to schoolchildren to inspire a new generation of organists.

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