Church bid to update 127-year-old organ

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Parishioners at a church on the outskirts of St Helens need to raise a daunting £30,000 to replace their “deteriorating” church organ.

Frank Lowe, the organist at Holy Trinity Parish Church, near Billinge, told how the church’s pipe organ was enlarged to its current size in 1886 and, to his knowledge, has had nothing more that tuning and routine maintenance ever since!

He said: “The organ has certainly seen better days. It was enlarged by Gray and Davison, the leading organ builders at the time, 127 years ago and has had very little work done to it since - which is incredible when you think about it.

“It would probably go for another 127 years - it’s solidly built - but the mechanical bits are now worn out. Quite understandably, after all those years there are now lots of parts which no longer work as they should.

“It’s a pity but it has now reached the stage where, to keep it going, a very expensive restoration would be required - costing somewhere in the region of £120,000.”

Mr Lowe, 74, whose father Harry Lowe was the organist at the Rectory Road church for 60 years from 1933, and his fellow churchgoers have now set their sights on a new organ from Phoenix Organs in Darwen, which would cost £30,000.

His affinity with the church goes even deeper too, because he was previously the headteacher at the school associated with the church for 18 years.

He added: “The diocese’s organ advisor has told us not to spend another penny on the old organ and instead work towards buying a new one.”

“We’ve already started brainstorming about how we can raise the money and are planning to organise some fundraising events.”

Anyone who wishes to donate towards the organ fund can make cheques payable to “Ashton Parish Church Organ Fund” and hand them in at the church, to Mr Lowe or to any member of the choir.