Reading Minster is home to a unique and important pipe organ built by Henry Willis in 1862. Unfortunately, decades of neglect have rendered this magnificent instrument almost unplayable. Every part of the organ – the console, pipework, bellows and mechanics – needs urgent attention. We need to act now to save this beautiful organ for the use of future generations.
The original church organ, this Willis instrument is listed Grade II* by the British Institute of Organ Studies for its importance needs thorough restoration so that it can once again fully support a musical contribution to the choir and worship.
To protect this historic instrument and restore it to its former glory we need to raise £600,000. The aim of the Organ Restoration Fund is to restore this instrument to its former glory, when it will be at the heart of the worship at Reading Minster and used for concerts and recitals and by organ students.
What is wrong with the organ?
- Dirty, collapsed and corroded pipework: resulting in unusable stops
- Perished leatherwork to the mechanism: resulting in notes not sounding
- Split leatherwork on the bellows: resulting in a delayed, sluggish sound
- Faulty electrical parts to the action, based on outdated technology, with miles of cotton covered wire and corroded contacts
- Distorted soundboards caused by dry conditions
- Organ blower heats the air supply to the organ causing dryness
What needs to be done to restore it?
- Organ completely dismantled and organ space thoroughly cleaned
- Bellows, wind system, soundboards, action and mechanisms remade
- All 2,886 pipes individually cleaned
- Damaged pipes repaired and corroded metal pipes remade
- Rusted or corroded tuning slides and tongues replaced
- Modernised, moveable console with up-to-date playing aids incorporated
- New solid-state electric action provided, including digital memory banks
- Blowing apparatus replaced
Sponsor an Organ Pipe
In the renovation of the historic 1862 Willis organ in Reading Minster We need your help to raise £600,000 towards the cost of rebuilding our historic organ and how better to this than by sponsoring the repair of one of 2,886 organ pipes. Each pipe, big or small, plays a part in the musical life of the Minster and by sponsoring one or more of them you will become part of a unique project to ensure that this historic instrument is preserved for the use of future generations.
The minimum cost of sponsoring a single organ pipe is £10.
Sponsors who donate £100 or more will become patrons of the project and will be invited to special events, as well as being given the opportunity to hear the restored organ before others.
You can sponsor a whole rank or set of pipes for £1000.
Every sponsor will receive a certificate acknowledging his/her contribution and a permanent record will be displayed on the organ case. If you would like to make regular payments by direct debit e.g. you wish to sponsor a pipe for £100 and want to pay £5 per month over 20 months then we can send you the relevant forms.
How to make a donation
If you would like to sponsor a pipe or make a one-off donation you can do so by sending a cheque (made payable to St. Mary’s P.C.C and with Organ Restoration Fund written on the reverse) to:
Minster Office, St. Mary’s Gate, Chain Street, Reading, RG1 2HX
Your donation may be eligible for Gift Aid if you are a UK tax payer or are a business, in which case we get an extra 25p for every £1 donated.