Colchester: Funding secured for organ restoration

Colchester Town Hall organ

Colchester Town Hall organ - Credit: Archant

A HISTORIC organ is set to be restored to its former glory after significant funding has been secured for its restoration.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced an award of £416,000 to renovate the Moot Hall organ in Colchester Town Hall.

The Edwardian organ was built specifically for the Moot Hall by makers Norman and Beard and was first publicly played at the town hall’s official opening in May 1902. One hundred years later Councillor Nigel Chapman, Colchester’s mayor at the time, recognised that the organ’s condition was deteriorating and has been campaigning ever since to get it restored to full working order again.

Mr Chapman said: “I am absolutely delighted at the news that this important part of Colchester’s heritage is set to be conserved. The organ is a significant part of the character of the Moot Hall and I am extremely excited at the prospect of hearing it played again.

“Special thanks must be given to the excellent fundraising efforts made by the Friends of the Moot Hall to help contribute to the repair of the organ.”

The HLF funding includes money for a programme of community engagement activities, where pupils from nearby and many other interested groups will be able to find out more about the instrument and its repair.

Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, Robyn Llewellyn, said: “This fine historic instrument is an integral part of the town hall and its deterioration has denied concertgoers the chance to hear it for many years.

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“As a unique example of a pipe organ, our funding will not only fund restoration but help local people and schools understand how it was built and the traditional craftsmanship involved. Soon this will all be put right and the organ can be enjoyed by both music and history lovers alike.”

A tender process for the work is due to be started soon and it is anticipated the renovation will take several years to complete.

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell, who is one of the patrons of the appeal, added: “At what is a difficult financial time for public bodies, it is wonderful that the significant historic importance of the Moot Hall organ has been recognised.”