In August, the Parish of St Bede’s, Rotherham saw the completion of the restoration of the Pipe organ after a 10 month project.
Essential work to the organ was identified several years ago, but was put on hold until the extensive restoration of the church was completed. In the meantime, proposals were put forward for enhancements to the organ, so that the church would have a very high quality instrument that would be in excellent working order for many generations.
The Parish and Diocese agreed to the proposals that a full restoration project should be undertaken and the contract was awarded Henry Willis & Sons, organ builders of Liverpool. In October, 2015, the whole organ was removed and taken back to their works in Liverpool, which left the church with a small one manual organ that was on loan to us – meaning the Christmas and the Easter celebrations were a bit more subdued than normal.
Work done to the Hill, Norman & Beard organ included; re-leathering and repairs to the bellows, complete repair of the soundboards, complete re-wiring and a new electronic control system to replace the electromechanical switch system. Ranks of pipes that were of poor quality sound have been replaced, and all the pipes have been cleaned and repaired; including the bass reed pipes that had collapsed under their own weight. Also, three new stops have been added to the organ and the whole instrument has been re-voiced. The organ console was also attended to, including all new keys to replace the previous ones that had reached the end of their serviceable life.
The end result of this restoration now means that the church will have one the highest quality organs, not only in the Diocese, but the local area, which will be in good working order for at least the next 50-100 years. It is also fitting to have an organ that matches the beauty and standard of the church following the extensive renovation of the building.
The parish has generously supported this project, as music plays an essential part of the Liturgy at St Bede’s, and also because of our continuing dedication to become a centre of Liturgical excellence and missionary outreach.
To celebrate the return, there will be an Organ Recital by St Marie’s Cathedral organist, Mr Hugh Finnigan, on Saturday, 1 October at 10am (after the 9.30 Mass), which will be free admission. All are most welcome.
For the rest of that day, any organist or interested party are most welcome to book some time to play the organ at their own leisure, or to arrange to visit on another day; please see the contact details on the parish website.
For any other information about the organ restoration or music in the parish, please do get in touch with organist and choirmaster, Paul Brennan via the parish website, and also to see other forthcoming events, at www.stbedesparishchurchrotherham.co.uk or telephone 01709 562012.