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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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Dalton church’s £1m organ is more than a pipe dream

THE true value of an antique church organ has finally been recognised.

St Mary’s Church, Dalton, is now the proud owner of a Grade Two star listed instrument – worth an estimated £1 million.

The title was issued by the British Institute of Organ Studies (BIOS), after a team from the University of Liverpool realised its significance while researching the work of Preston-based organ builder Henry Ainscough.

Church organist, David Kidd, said: “The team from Liverpool asked if they could apply to the institute on our
behalf, and we received a certificate in October saying the organ was Grade Two Star listed. We didn’t have any idea; it’s quite a pleasant feeling.”

Ainscough designed the organ around the start of the 20th century, but the exact date of its installation is not known.

Mr Kidd, from Rating Lane, Barrow, said: “It was probably second hand, and probably built around 1905. The documents could all be in the Cumbria County Council archives but it would be a huge job to try and find them.”

BIOS award certificates to organs in four different categories, depending on how true they remain to their original design.

The Grade Two star listing is awarded for organs which are good representatives of the work of their builder, and in substantially original condition.

St Mary’s vicar, Reverend Allan Mitchell, said: “We have already had people from all over England coming to look at the organ. To have it recognised with this award is splendid.”

Despite the honour, Mr Kidd says the organ is still in need of substantial maintenance work to keep it in good condition.
The organ was last stripped down and cleaned in the 1970s, and its intricate design means the job would run up an eye-watering bill.

Mr Kidd, who has been playing the Victorian-style oak-panelled instrument since 2001, said: “It has a wonderful full sound but it definitely needs a lot doing to it. To strip it down, send it off to a specialist organ builders and have it cleaned would cost around 50 to 60 thousand pounds.”

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