£26,000 campaign to make rare Hartlepool church organ sound heavenly again

A church has launched a £26,000 campaign to restore its rare organ to its full glory.

By Mark Payne
Wednesday, 12 June, 2019, 11:26
(left to right) Ian Malcolmson (organ restoration committee member) St Mary's Church, priest Fr Nick Jennings and Terry Curren (organ restoration committee member, photographed alongside of the church Organ. Picture by FRANK REID

St Mary’s Catholic Church, on the Headland, is home to an organ made by William Denman of York made in 1886.

It is one of only 20 by him still in existence.

Organ restoration committee member Terry Curren sitting at the Organ in St. Mary's Church. Picture by FRANK REID

The restoration campaign will get underway in earnest next week when St Mary’s welcomes Daniel Cook from Hartlepool who is master of choristers and organist at Durham Cathedral.

He will play the organ in a concert at the church on Durham Street, on Tuesday, June 18, at 7.30pm.

Parishioner Terry Curren said: “William Denman had a great appreciation of tone and quality of organ building.

“It is playable. We managed to scrape together enough money to have all the pipes cleaned and tuned as it was full of dust and muck.

“Some of the pipes don’t work. All of that area needs taking out and apart and putting back together again so it is quite a big job.”

The organ was last restored in the 1960s but the blower was disconnected around 15 years ago when the church was rewired.

Last year they got the electric running again to feed the blower.

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Daniel, who has played at Westminster Abbey, is patron of the restoration programme.

Terry added: “We are looking forward to him coming down and playing.

“He has played it and said it was worth restoring and has some wonderful aspects to it in terms of the sound.

“This will be the first time it will have been played in a concert.” 

There will be no admission charge for the recital but supporters can make a contribution if they wish.

“People have helped raise money to get us to this stage so this is a thank you.”

The installation of the organ in St Mary’s in 1886 is recorded in the North Eastern Daily Gazette.

It reported how St Mary’s “was crowded yesterday morning and evening to witness the religious ceremony in connection with the formal opening” of the organ.

It cost about £350 of which £200 was left by John Lawrence, of Hartlepool, in his will.