Leeds nostalgia: Appeal for funds to repair rare organ

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Dateline August 2000: Church leaders in Armley were hoping to pull out all the stops (sorry, but that’s what it said in 2000) to save a towering, priceless church organ in a neglected Leeds church.

St Bartholemew’s was home to one of the world’s most famous Schulze organs. It stood 77ft tall and had a maze of 2,688 hand-crafted pipes.

The Vicar of Armley, the Rev Timothy Lipscomb wanted to raise £1m to bring the organ back into use.

He said: “Half a million pounds needs spending on the church, its tower, roof and windows and a similar amount needs to be spent on the organ. It will take years of dedicated work to put the organ back into pristine condition but one of the few bonuses of being a poor parish for many years is that there are only a handful of these magnificent organs and these have been interfered with the least because there has never been money available.”

The organ was originally built in 1860 in Germany for a private house, Meanwood Towers in Leeds. In the late Victorian period, it was bought by a local mill owning family and transferred to the church, which can be seen on the Leeds skyline for miles around.

The world’s most famous organists were said to make regular pilgrimages to Leeds to play the organ.

Rev Lipscomb added: “Only last week a musician from Australia knocked on the vestry door to ask permission to sit in front of the giant.”