Pipe organs are normally the most expensive single item in a church building and PCCs therefore need to think carefully about their maintenance and preservation. Many instruments have given excellent service for over 100 years and suitable ongoing care will allow them to operate indefinitely. The delicate internal workings of pipe organs (including woodwork, metalwork and leatherwork) are susceptible to changes to temperature and humidity. PCCs should therefore take care to manage these environmental factors as far as is practicable in order to maximise their instrument's longevity. In particular, new church heating systems can often result in major damage to an organ and so the PCC should take the advice of their organ builder prior to any such works. Dust can also have a devastating effect on organ mechanisms and pipework, and PCCs should consult the organ builder before undertaking any significant building works in the church - your organ tuner will be able to install suitable protective sheeting whilst the building works are in progress. Another significant danger to organs is leaking roofs - water ingress problems should be regularly checked for and addressed quickly. Where a church is blessed with an original instrument by a reputable builder, the PCC should think very carefully indeed about any proposal to alter its pipework, console, internal mechanisms or blowing plant. Such alterations can seriously compromise the delicate tonal balance of an original instrument and often impede the instrument's effectiveness in worship.
The PCC should seek DAC advice at an early stage, with the first point of call being the DAC Secretary who will be happy to arrange a visit from the DAC Organ Adviser. The DAC cannot be involved in the parish's choice of organ builder. When seeking tenders for major works to an organ, PCCs should be careful to ensure truly like-for-like quotations from reputable builders and they should examine recent examples of their work.
Detailed advice: The Diocesan Organ Adviser is available to provide advice on particular schemes - please contact the DAC Secretary in the first instance. Detailed general advice is available from the Churchcare website. This includes a detailed consideration about whether to repair or replace a pipe organ, with information about obtaining replacement pipe organs from redundant churches and issues surrounding electronic alternatives. Further information is available in Towards the Conservation of Historic Organs and Historic Organ Conservation both published by Church House Publishing for the Church Buildings Council (CBC) and available from the Church House Bookshop
The following bodies have helped fund organ repairs and relocations:
- Heritage Lottery Fund - have funded a number of repairs and relocations of historic organs
- The Historic Cheshire Churches Preservation Trust have funded organ repairs
- The British Institute of Organ Studies have produced a Guide to grants for funding work on historic pipe organs.
Further funding advice is available from Churchcare.
Detailed advice is available about whether or not any particular works will require a faculty - please see Section C of the guidance on Minor Works.
- Institute of British Organ Building - offers guidance and an accreditation scheme for organ building firms
- The British Institute of Organ Studies offers specialist advice on preservation of organs and sources of funding for organs of historic importance. It also operates a Historic Organ Certificate scheme which aims to protect instruments of artistic or historic importance.
- The National Pipe Organ Register aims to document the specification of all organs in the United Kingdom. Do ensure that the specification of your organ is included on this register - you can also have photographs added to the record.
- The Association of Independent Organ Advisers can provide detailed, expert advice to parishes on how to undertake major scheme sof repair to their pipe organ.