Organ of the Blitz takes stand-in role

01:18, May 20 2011
SYMBOLIC: Neil Hooper installs an organ, made from parts of organs damged in England during World War II, at The Church of St Michael and All Angels in Christchurch.

A pipe organ salvaged from the wreckage of Britain's war-time Blitz is a symbolic addition to a Christchurch church.

The Church of St Michael and All Angels, on Oxford Tce, survived the February quake almost unscathed, but the 1872 Bevington three-manual pipe organ had to be removed for repairs and renovation.

The replacement, built using parts from instruments damaged during World War II bombing raids in Britain, was in storage in Timaru for about 20 years until it was found by the church's musical director, Paul Ellis.

It arrived in New Zealand in 1951 after being sold to the Te Awamutu Methodist Church.

Ellis said bringing the Blitz organ to Christchurch was symbolic. "It's been made up of organs that have been in rubble and damaged buildings. I think it's quite appropriate," he said.

Organ builders have spent the past week assembling the organ at St Michael's, one of the few central-city churches still in use.

Although much smaller than the Bevington, Ellis said he was looking forward to playing the organ for the first time on Sunday.

"I've heard it, and it sounds quite good, but it's about a quarter of the size. A few of the parts came from the Wallasey Town Hall [near Liverpool], so if it meets the scale of a town hall, it should be all right at St Michael's," he said.

Restoring the original organ is likely to take 18 months and cost about $500,000.


The Press