Bolton Parish Church organ back to its former glory

The Bolton News: Stephen Carleston, organist at Bolton Parish Church Stephen Carleston, organist at Bolton Parish Church

AFTER months of waiting and years of fundraising, the intricate work of restoring Bolton Parish Church’s historic organ is finally complete.

Almost 3,000 internal pipes, which vary in length from half an inch to 16ft have been painstakingly removed and repaired by specialist firm Principal Pipe Organs, in York, at a cost of £250,000.

The organ was built by Hill, a famous English organ builder, in 1882 but some parts date as far back as 1795. The only significant work done to its internal workings since the late 19th century was in 1953. The intricate facade was restored around 10 years ago.

Work began in November 2007, and was planned to have been finished by Easter this year, but when the instrument was opened up, the job was found to be more complicated than expected.

Stephen Carleston, director of music at the church, said: “It has been a long wait but it has certainly been worthwhile. It is already wonderful to play, it is much clearer than it used to be.”

As well as the refurbishment, one of the organ’s four compartments has been turned round so it faces into the church, to enhance the sound of the music in the church.

There have also been improvements to the console where the organist plays, and two computers have been installed, by Taylors of Ramsbottom.

Now, all that is left to do is the final tuning, which is scheduled to take place in the new year.

Mr Carleston, who has played the organ at the parish church since 2000, said: “It will be absolutely wonderful when it is tuned. I’m sure there will be some teething troubles to iron out, as always happens, but it should not be long now.”

He added: “One of the most important things about the instruments is the acoustic of the building and we are particularly fortunate that the church is very good for both organ and choral music.”

The church plans to celebrate the organ’s return with a recital by Professor David Titterington, head of organ at the Royal Academy of Music in London, who is from Bolton, in February.

Chairman of the organ appeal fund committee Cllr John Walsh, said: “It is great news that the organ is now back. It is sounding much better already and once it is tuned up it will sound absolutely super.

“We now want to start training up some young organists, so they can play the instrument for many years into the future.”

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