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Church organ could be moved from Harbour Church, Folkestone to St Gregory and St Martin Church, in Wye

A giant church organ which is more than a century old will be transferred to a new home in order to stop its 'slow decay' - if planning permission is granted.

The instrument at St Saviour’s in Folkestone, now held by Harbour Church, has gone without servicing or tuning for more than a decade. As such, it risks falling into further decline.

The organ at St Saviours, now Harbour Church. Picture: Harbour Church
The organ at St Saviours, now Harbour Church. Picture: Harbour Church

A planning application has now been submitted to relocate the organ, which is more than 100 years old, to St Gregory and St Martin Church, in Wye, near Ashford.

A heritage statement outlining the plans states that the removal of the organ from St Saviour's would have a "low aesthetic impact" on the building and that retention of the organ is "not a viable option".

Documents read: "Harbour Church’s style of worship is very different to that of the Anglican congregation that formerly used the building.

"Communal praise is accompanied by a worship group rather than an organ and there is no choir. The instrument is not required for concerts or any other events outside worship.

"Organs require periodic maintenance to be kept in good playable condition, an expense which Harbour Church cannot justify.

St Saviours, Folkestone. Now called Harbour Church. Picture: Google Maps
St Saviours, Folkestone. Now called Harbour Church. Picture: Google Maps

"The instrument at St Saviour’s has already gone over 10 years without any servicing or tuning, and leaving it unused for any longer would condemn it to slow decay, whose effects would be progressively more expensive to reverse.

"The musical quality of the instrument would be impossible to appreciate.

"Moreover, it occupies space which Harbour Church would now like to put to other uses."

The literature states that the "integrity of the organ as a musical instrument would be unaffected by the relocation to Wye" as the "original pipework would be re-used in its entirety"

The statement adds: "This would be an organ transplant in the literal and metaphorical sense."

Work to build St Saviour's, on the corner of Canterbury Road and Black Bull Road, started in 1891 and the church was consecrated in 1900. Other parts of the building were completed in later years.

It became part of Harbour Church in 2017 and is a Grade II-listed building.

The organ, manufactured by J.W. Walker and Sons, was installed in 1903.

Planning documents note: "The organ has a measure of historical significance for having been installed as part of the original construction campaign and therefore forming part of the original liturgical apparatus of the building.

"However, it appears to be an ‘off the peg’ product, which was probably not designed specifically for St Saviour’s."

The organ is not mentioned on the National Pipe Organ Register of the British Institute of Organ Studies as being of special interest and does not have an Historic Organ Certificate.

Its pipes would be overhauled and then transferred to the Grade 1 listed church in Wye, where it would be reassembled inside the existing organ case.

The current instrument at the church in Wye was originally made by Albert Keates of Sheffield in 1928 for Wesley Hall in Sheffield. It was purchased second-hand and installed at Wye in 1972.

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