Picton church restores historic pipe organ in time for Easter service

This year's Picton Easter Sunday service is set to be an unforgettable experience.

A special project is under way at St Mark's Anglican Church to restore a beautiful and historic pipe organ.

The instrument, which is over 100 years old, will play a major musical role at the church around Easter time.

The church's senior minister Reverend Ben Boardman said the pipe organ was being restored after spending two decades in storage.

"Most of the mechanisms and operating parts of the organ are now set up," Reverend Boardman said.

"We're about to install the blower, which powers the organ, before we put in more than 600 pipes.

"There will be a lot of testing and tuning involved before our Easter service."

It has been a long journey to Picton for the pipe organ.

The instrument was built by JJ Binns in Leeds, England, in 1903 to be installed in All Hallows Church, Mitton.

Many years later, the pipe organ was imported into Australia by the Morgan family, owners of Abercrombie House in Bathurst.

However, it was not installed in the house's ballroom as intended and was placed into storage.

Meanwhile the previous pipe organ at St Mark's Anglican Church was destroyed during the 2016 Picton floods.

"There has been a pipe organ here at the church for over 100 years," Reverend Boardman said.

"The pipe organ is not integral in worshiping God, you can do that without a musical instrument.

"But for people who grew up with that special sound it makes in church, it's a blessing to continue that experience."

However, Reverend Boardman admitted he had considered installing an electric piano instead of the pipe organ because it was "cheaper" and "took up less space"."

"This is a five-tonne instrument which takes up a whole section of our church," he said.

"But the organ pipes are part of the charm and ambiance of this place and helps preserve that."

The restoration work is being undertaken by Sydney-based company Peter Jekes Pty Ltd.

Project supervisor Rodney Ford said it was a "privilege" to help restore the pipe organ.

"It really is a magnificent instrument and has a new home in Picton," he said.

"It's always a privilege to work jobs like these because they don't come around too often."​

Reverend Boardman invited all residents to come along to the church's Easter service on Sunday, April 21.

He said the service would begin with an organ recital from 8.45am, led by experienced local musician Russell Littlefair.

"Russell is our primary organist and we have an apprentice, James Nance, who will continue to learn how to play the pipe organ," Reverend Boardman said.

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