Organ music returns to the Cathedral of Coquetdale

A mock-up view of the church showing the new position of the organ following restoration.
A mock-up view of the church showing the new position of the organ following restoration.

A funding boost is music to the ears of churchgoers in Rothbury.

All Saints Church, known as the Cathedral of Coquetdale, has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £36,200 to restore and resite its listed church organ.

More than £27,000 was raised locally for the restoration, which will mean that, for the first time in almost 150 years, the organ will be heard in all its original glory.

Its highly-decorated pipes will be visible and the instrument will be seen as a free-standing example of Victorian organ-building in a new location at the north-east end of the nave.

The organ will be dismantled in February and taken to the workshops of specialist organ restorers Goetze and Gwynn in Nottinghamshire.

Six months later it will be returned and rebuilt in a new location in time for its restoration to be celebrated next September, 150 years after its manufacture.

The organ was made by William Hill in 1866 and gifted to the church by Lord Armstrong of Cragside and the then Rector, the Rev Vernon Harcourt.

While substantially unaltered since its manufacture, 150 years of use has resulted in changes to the voicing of its pipes, uneven keys and broken levers, all of which make it difficult to play.

In 1887, it was moved to its current position in the vestry, compromising its pipe positions and making it difficult to access and tune.

These problems were compounded in the 1930s by the erection of a First World War memorial screen with dummy zinc pipes in front of the ornately-decorated Victorian pipes.

The Rev Michael Boag is delighted with the restoration scheme and is looking forward to the establishment of a Saturday organ club for youngsters, organ scholars based in Rothbury and a series of organ coffee concerts.

The invitation will go out to organ lovers everywhere, inviting them to attend concerts and services. A number of organists have already shown an interest in performing.