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Restored organ is welcomed at St Mark's Church in Oulton Broad

PUBLISHED: 08:00 15 June 2015

St Marks Church, Oulton Broad has had its organ restored.
 Rev Canon Ian Bentley by the organ.

St Marks Church, Oulton Broad has had its organ restored. Rev Canon Ian Bentley by the organ.

© Archant 2015

Dreams have been realised after a major £45,000 project was marked with a musical celebration.

St Marks Church, Oulton Broad. Pictures: Nick ButcherSt Marks Church, Oulton Broad. Pictures: Nick Butcher

Efforts to restore an historic pipe organ at St Mark’s Church in Oulton Broad first started in 2009.

And the culmination of the £45,000 renovations was honoured with a celebratory weekend of music, as the restored organ echoed out around the church near Lowestoft once more.

Originally built in the 1850s, the organ has been described as an instrument of “considerable historic and musical importance,” by the former organ consultant to the Norwich Diocese, Miles Quick.

For Canon Ian Bentley, it is “great” to have the organ back - and having the Norwich Cathedral Choir perform in concert last Saturday night, as well as live musical performances on Sunday, was a fitting way to celebrate.

He said: “I came to St Mark’s nine years ago and the organ needed attention then.

“We started fund-raising as part of our 125th celebrations in 2009, with the work to restore the organ beginning in September 2010.

“But it turned out to be a much, much bigger job than had been realised. It took three-and-a-half years when we anticipated it being away for four months.”

The cost of restoring the organ came through fund-raising concerts and some very generous donors who sponsored an organ pipe each.

The pipe organ was originally built in the 1850s by organ builders JW Walker and Sons, then of London, for a private residence in Willesden, in the north-west of the capital.

With a compact design and height measuring 9ft 6in, various alterations and additions have since been made.

The most recent was undertaken by Hill, Norman and Beard in about 1950 when the organ was moved to St Mark’s from Norwich Cathedral, where it is believed to have been used as a temporary instrument following the major fire in the main organ in 1938.

With the casework of the organ made out of mahogany, with a polished rosewood veneer, it is also beautifully carved. The top of the casework is castellated and the display pipes are lacquered in gold.

The restoration was undertaken by Holmes and Swift of Fakenham, who did “a remarkable job”, according to Canon Bentley. He said: “The organ has undergone a complete refurbishment and restoration. It should last us a long time and is as good as new. There is nothing quite like the sound of a pipe organ in a church. We are grateful to the community for donating and continuing to support the church, and a massive thanks must go to organist and St Mark’s director of music Alan Zipfel.”

Mr Zipfel said: “The restored organ at St Mark’s is visually very beautiful, as well as sounding great.”

Are you involved in a restoration project? Email mark.boggis@archant.co.uk

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