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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Research reveals history of £1m organ

By Jonathan HumphriesNEW information has emerged about the history of one of Dalton’s most valuable assets.

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RICH HISTORY: Organist David Kidd with the Henry Ainscough organ in St Mary’s Church in Dalton MILTON HAWORTH REF: 50040945B002

The antique oak-panelled organ at St Mary’s Church, worth an estimated £1 million, was recently awarded Grade Two Star Listed status by the British Institute of Organ Studies.

The listing is only awarded to organs of historical significance, which are in substantially original condition and remain true to the designs of their builders.

When the instrument was certified, organist David Kidd and Vicar Reverend Allan Mitchell were unaware of how it came to St Mary’s, and believed it may have been secondhand.

However after an article appeared in the Evening Mail, local historian Walter Johnston, from Yarlside Road, and Cumbria County Council archivist, Susan Benson, did some research of their own.

After unearthing a series of documents, Ms Benson, based at Cumbria Archive and Local Services Centre, Duke Street, Barrow, believes the organ had always been destined for St Mary’s, and was funded by donations from local churchgoers.

The instrument was installed in the church in 1905, and according to a order of service uncovered by Ms Benson, a dedication ceremony took place on Wednesday, September 27, headed by The Bishop of Barrow in Furness Henry Ware.

Both Ms Benson and Mr Johnston discovered that the organ was designed by Barrow-based architect Dr E Brown, before being passed on to Preston-based organ builder Henry Ainscough.

The documents also reveal the organ’s oak casework was designed by Austin & Paley, based in Lancaster.

A list of subscribers, found by Ms Benson, contains names of prominent Barrow figures who donated money for the organ’s installation.

Included on the list is Frederic Ramsden, son of prominent civil engineer James Ramsden, who played a pivotal role in the development of Barrow’s ship building industry – and served as mayor on five occasions.

Also included is Victor Cavendish MP, who later became the 9th Duke of Devonshire.

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