While Invercargill’s old St John’s Church undergoes construction work, its historic organ is being looked after with a protection plan.
The church’s owner, Southern Institute of Technology, is getting the building strengthened to meet earthquake standards and extensions. Extensions will also be made to make more space for activities.
SIT project manager Doug Riley said work could be finished by mid-2021 when the new facility would open as a Centre of Creative Industries.
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* Last service held at St John’s Anglican Church
It will cater for many things, including various forms of arts, concerts and music.
The South Island Organ Company, of Timaru, has four staff in Invercargill dismantling the pipes and other components of the St John’s organ for storage.
Some of it is being stored in wooden crates. The organ’s console, including keyboard, stop knobs and parts that can’t be moved, are being covered in heavy duty bubble wrap and heavy duty polyethylene film to keep out moisture and masonry dust and grit.
Christopher Templeton, of the SI Organ Company, said the organ had a long history but would need some maintenance work to regain a good standard for playing.
It has not been played in public since the church’s last service in December, 2018.
“There’s six sets of pipes in it that were in the first organ [in the church] in 1872,” Templeton said.
London companies TC Lewis and Norman and Beard installed the first two organs, respectively, in 1872 and 1904. The London company of Hill, Norman and Beard rebuilt the organ in 1930 before the SI Organ Company upgraded it, including a new electrical system, in 1968.
“It’s shows it age … hasn’t had major work on it for 50 years,” Templeton said.
The electrical system and leather work are showing wear and parts of the timber had borer.
The storage and protection work done by Templeton and his three colleagues started on Monday and should be completed on Friday.
Lisa Oppen, a member of the group, is working for the SI Organ Company while on her OE. She is an organ builder in Germany.