Campaign aims to restore historic Newcastle organ

A "FORGOTTEN" Newcastle organ could be one of the world's greatest if it was restored, say campaigners.

Forgotten Newcastle organ

A "FORGOTTEN" Newcastle organ could be one of the world's greatest if it was restored, say campaigners.

The imposing Grade II listed instrument would have pulled in the crowds to Newcastle City Hall when it was first installed in 1928, a year after the venue opened its doors.

But today the 82-year-old organ, constructed specially for the City Hall by County Durham firm Harrison and Harrison, is tired and worn due to a lack of care and attention.

Now recitals are experiencing a revival, with cities such as London, Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester all bringing their organs back to life.

And the Newcastle & District Society of Organists (NDSO) believe the same should be done in Newcastle.

Next month they are asking leaders at the city council to come up with a strategy to restore this piece of musical heritage.

“This is the Rolls Royce of organs,” said City Hall manager Peter Brennan.

“If we had it in full working order it would be the most significant organ in the country and one of the most important in the world.

“People would come from miles around to hear and play it.

“There are only two others like it in Europe and three in the world.”

The NDSO have been holding events to try and get people hooked on organ music.

In the latest recital around 30 youngsters from across the region came to the City Hall to try out the instrument for themselves.

The society hope to hold more events of this kind in the future. Mr Brennan said: “It is being increasingly used as people are becoming aware of it again.

“Schools have been holding events in the hall and using the organ, which is brilliant.

“We would like to see the council support a kind of educational programme that would build on this interest.”

Peter Chatfield, vice president of the NDSO said: “Most organs are in churches but the range of organ music is quite phenomenal. They used to be played in cinemas and dancehalls.

“Other cities around the country are restoring them but Newcastle seems to be lagging behind.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We have invited members of the NDSO to meet Coun Pauline Allen next month to talk about the city hall organ.

“We recognise the importance of the organ and are looking forward to discussing its future.”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer