by Emma Grove
A concert piano identical to one in the Royal Opera House has been uncovered in a house - hidden under decades of junk.
The musical treasure was found perfectly preserved under piles of newspapers at the 1925 Art Deco property.
The house, in Minster Road, Minster, fetched more than double the asking price at acution when it was sold for £192,000 following the death of owner Thomas Varty.
When the executors of the 89-year-old's will went into the property, they found the piano hidden under floor-to-ceiling piles of newspapers in the property's music room and library.
Jenny Hurkett, of the Blue Town Heritage Centre, has long been on the lookout for such an instrument and so it was offered to her.
She was asked to raise money to pay for it and was just about to give up, when a visitor to the centre said he would buy it for them.
He stumped up the "few hundred pounds" that was asked for and a piano tuner was called in.
The house in Minster Road which has been sold at auction
It was discovered the piano is a Bechstein - which will be worth several thousand pounds once it has been restored.
Mrs Hurkett spent the next few days desperately trying to track down a removal company and some volunteers to get it in place - time was limited as it had to be out before the property auction.
Eventually she succeeded and it was moved to its new home - next to the stage in the restored Criterion Music Hall at the centre.
"We were crying when the guy offered to buy us the piano and then when everyone turned up to help," Mrs Hurkett said.
"I'm so proud of it and for all the people pulling together to get it - who would have dreamed that all would have happened?
"On the Island we now have the same piano that's in the Royal Opera House.
"It's fantastic now it's in there - I feel like it was just meant to be. It's just absolutely beautiful."
The piano needs some restoration work, but Mrs Hurkett said the thing that saved it was the newspapers surrounding it and the fact its coasters were on glass protectors so the damp did not travel up the legs.
She thanked everyone who helped out including Kemsley-based Rose Removals, who were so impressed with the heritage centre they decided not to charge for their services.
Mr Varty, who was known locally as "The Professor", had been a resident at Oakdene Rest Home, in Minster, for several years before he died in April.
He was a retired chemist and it is believed he bought the house, which was built in the shape of a piano as the original owners had a love of music, in the early 1960s.
A neighbour said Mr Varty was "a nice old boy but kept himself to himself".
Auctioneers Clive Emson said there was so much interest in the sale of the property, they arranged more than 100 viewings.
The next Clive Emson auction will take place on Thursday, September 13, at 11am at the Kent County Showground at Detling.