Mission to get the music back to Leyland

Mark Leadbeater at the church organ, which needs urgent restoration work
Mark Leadbeater at the church organ, which needs urgent restoration work
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A cherished - near-90-year old - church organ is at the centre of a campaign to raise around £30,000.

The instrument has been a part of St James Church, Slater Lane, Leyland, for many years. But it is in need of urgent repair to keep it going.

Reverend Marc Wolverson, of St James, said: “The organ itself is in pretty good condition, the problem is the electronic system used to communicate both the keyboard and pipes has badly broken down and bringing it up to speed will cost a lot of money.

“We’ve been fund-raising for a couple of years now.

“The problem has become crucial and some Sundays ago our organ failed to work completely. Up to that point the organist managed to work round the issues.

“At the moment the organ can’t be played at all. We’re having to go to a firm and have a new communication system.”

Regarding the fund-raising, he said people were doing their bit, but there was “still quite a bit to go”.

He added: “We had a sponsored hymn-singing a some weeks ago.

“We sang 100 hymns in six hours - people would come in and choose a hymn and would donate to the organ fund.”

He added: “Someone donated a hand-carved nativity set and we’re raffling that off.”

Reverend Wolverson continued: “Things have been going reasonably well, but we need more and more, but we’re grateful for anyone in the community to help because the instrument is one of the best in the area and of great historical value and needs proper TLC to get it up and running again.”

Mark Leadbeater, 44, has been the church’s full-time organist for more than 10 years.

He said that St James’s organ was made by Ainscough, which was a Preston company, and dates back to the 1930s

“They did the organ at Lancaster Cathedral,” he said.

“It’s roughly a similar type. At the time, Reginald Dixon was associated with that company.”

He added: “It has some merit, as a church organ it’s used all the time.

“At the moment, it won’t play at all. It’s going to be in the region of £25,000 to £30,000 to repair it. The electronic control system need replacing. We’ve actually raised, as a church, about £10,000.”

He said the organ was “a cracking” instrument to play and the church would welcome helping others to take it up in future. Let’s get more people involved in learning to play the king of instruments,” he said.