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Historic organ at Wolverhampton's Civic Hall in line for £1m revamp

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

An historic organ at Wolverhampton Civic Hall could be in line for a £1million revamp.

The organ dates back to 1938 - costing just £6,000 when brand new - but is in need of some TLC.

As the legendary venue prepares to undergo a £10m revamp later in the year, the organ that sits in its roof is also due a facelift.

Built in 1938 by British firm John Compton and Company, the Civic Hall Compton organ came with a guaranteed lifespan of 25 years.

Compton claimed at the time: "As a recital instrument, it is second to none in the Midlands."

Working hard to secure the £1m bonanza is resident organ player Steve Tovey,

Mr Tovey said: "This is simply one of the most magnificent organs in the West Midlands.

"It can make so many wonderful sounds and is a joy to play.

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"It can do the lot, one moment it sounds like you are in Liverpool cathedral, the next it takes you to Blackpool tower.

"I would also say it deserves a mention when talking about the history of this city, it is part of our heritage."

As part of the work to revamp the Civic Hall, another balcony will be installed, meaning the organ should be removed while work is carried out.

Mr Tovey, aged 68, who is originally from Aston but now lives in Tettenhall, expects work on the organ to take around 12 months and a bid is being prepared to secure £1m from the Heritage Lottery fund so it can be done.

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The instrument itself is connected to 6,421 pipes, similar to that of a church organ, in the venues roof, which range from two inches to 16 feet in height.

Each of these would need to be acid-dipped, while the reeds and shallot pipes need dismantling, cleaning, reassembling or replacing.

This is just the start of what Mr Tovey says needs to be done so the instrument can last for another 70 or 80 years.

He said: "An organ of this size and importance is normally cleaned an overhauled every 18 or 20 years.

"In this case, this has never been done, and with all of the work going on at the Civic Hall, now is the time to do these essential repairs.

"The reason this would take so much time and effort is because we don't want to lose any of the defining features that make this organ so special.

"It is a classic piece of equipment, in both sound and build quality."

Wolverhampton City Council have supported the request to apply for funding and should give permission for the bid to be submit at a cabinet resources meeting on April 14.

Yorkshire organist Andrew Nix will use it during a live performance at the Civic Hall on April 18, starting at 2pm.

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