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Blast from the past in Leeds hits the right note

Organ restorer Mark Wood has discovered a note from his grandfather, John William Wood, from 1910, in an organ in Leeds.

Organ restorer Mark Wood has discovered a note from his grandfather, John William Wood, from 1910, in an organ in Leeds.

It was a chance discovery, but it struck a very personal chord with Mark Wood.

The organ restorer made a surprise find when he was called to help breathe new life into the former Seacroft Methodist Church’s organ - the signature of his own grandfather.

Four generations of Mr Wood’s family have been helping to bring the sound of music to churches across the country.

And when he started his latest project, he discovered the initials of his grandfather John William Wood, who had helped to build and install the striking instrument in 1910.

The chance find was made during a project to transform the east Leeds church.

The building has has stood since 1874, and is now being turned into an arts and performance space for the local community.

The team behind East Leeds FM have signed the building up on a 99-year lease to convert the space into their new base and the home of Chapel FM.

Adrian Sinclair, creative director at Heads Together, who has taken responsibility for Chapel FM, was delighted with news of Mr Wood’s remarkable discovery.

He said: “The building is looking fantastic now all the restoration work is complete and an important part of that is to see the organ up and working perfectly again.

“The fact that Mark is continuing a family business by restoring the organ his grandfather installed back in 1910 is a great story for us and epitomises what we are trying to achieve.

“It is all about saving an important part of our local heritage by finding a new use for it to keep it relevant for generations to come.

“As we’ve signed a 99-year lease on the chapel, I’ve told Mark we’re going to need at least a couple more generations of Woods to look after our organ throughout the 21st century.”

Since Mr Wood, of Harrogate-based restoration company Peter Wood and Son, revived the organ, Leeds Organist Society have already booked their first open session.

Covering two floors, the new centre is expected to include three studios for creative performance, recording, broadcasting, training and writing, audience seating and a range of other facilities.

There will also be a focus on providing training for local young people to help them prepare for future careers.

 

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