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Possible light at the end of the tunnel for a dilapidated Walcker


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This news story is most curious. The Central Methodist Hall in Birmingham houses what is left of what looks from NPOR like having been originally the largest Walcker organ ever to be installed in the UK. I played it over 30 years ago on an organ crawl, but the church itself has been redundant for several years and has seen significant vandalism. Proposals have re-emerged (first mentioned a few years back) for the hall to be converted into a luxury hotel, but - get this - the aspiration is for the organ to be fully restored as a feature in the central banqueting chamber. Whether that just means the case or whether it includes a full historic restoration isn't clear however.

The specification can be found here. What is clear from NPOR is that very few Walckers have survived the passage of time so a major restoration of this instrument would be quite exceptional. Almost all have been destroyed, a few have been totally rebuilt and hardly any remain in their original condition. Harrisons restored one a few years ago earning it a Grade 1 certificate in the process, and touchingly in Tomintoul in Scotland the great-grandson of Oscar Walcker who installed a six stop one manual organ there at the beginning of the twentieth century recently undertook a faithful historic restoration of that same instrument.

 

 

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The largest extant - and completely unaltered - Walcker instrument in the UK is now likely to be the 1904 example in St. Columba Gaelic Church of Scotland, Glasgow. The Solo & Choir specification is omitted from the NPOR entry, but is all there nonetheless. This instrument has been visited by the current generation of the Walcker family.

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