York Minster’s Grand Organ will undergo a major, £2m refurbishment this autumn for the first time in 100 years.
The instrument, parts of which date back to 1834, will be removed – including almost all of its 5263 pipes – and taken to Durham for repair/rebuilding by organ specialists Harrison and Harrison.
The project will take around two years to complete, with the restored instrument due to be ready for use in autumn 2020.
Due to their regular use and environment, cathedral organs ideally require small-scale cleaning and adjustment every 15 to 20 years, with more extensive repairs carried out every 30 to 35 years and a major refurbishment every 100 years. The last major refurbishment of the Minster’s organ was carried out in 1903.
The project will include replacing the organ’s mechanism, extensive work to dismantle, clean and overhaul the instrument and minor changes to the organ case to both improve how it looks and the sound it allows out. The plans also include creating a new music library underneath the organ, inside the screen which separates the Quire from the Nave, subject to the relevant permissions being obtained.
The aim is to ensure the unique sound of the Minster’s organ is preserved, while restoring the grander, imposing qualities of the instrument which were altered during work in the 1960s.