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Church organ to make Germany its new home

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: January 10, 2012

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A MUCH-LOVED part of Burton’s musical and religious heritage has said ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ to the town and found a new home 800 miles away.

The pipe organ at Trinity Methodist and United Reformed Church, in George Street, has wowed worshippers and music lovers in the town for 150 years.

But after the church closed its doors for the last time, citing rising costs and dwindling attendances, the organ needed a new base, and found it in the German capital, Berlin.

The famed instrument was dismantled with the help of Stretton-based organbuilder Mike Thompson and transported by lorry to a warehouse near the city of Weimar.

It will be reconstructed later this year at St Afra’s Church, part of the St Philipp Neri Institute, a Catholic spiritual community based in the Berlin suburb of Gesundbrunnen.

Rev Julia Pellett, superintendent minister of the Burton Methodist circuit, said the Berlin church had made a £1,000 donation to its English counterpart to take the organ, and had had to cover the costs of dismantling, transporting and reassembling the instrument.

She said: “It was one of the best organs around, and people who had never heard it before were completely taken aback by the sound of it, which was just brilliant.

“We felt there was no point in leaving it where it was when we still don’t know what’s going to happen to the church building.

“We couldn’t take the risk, because with an organ like that it’s important you look after it.

“At least this way we know it’s going to a good home and to somewhere where people will make very good use of it.”

Father Gerald Goesche, from the St Philipp Neri Institute, said the instrument, which he believes will be the largest historic English organ in Germany, was ‘perfect’ for his church.

He told the Mail: “We came to Burton in November and made a very quick decision the organ was ideal for us both architecturally, as our church is about the same size as Trinity Church, and acoustically.

“It’s sad to see such an important and historic church closing but I had a clear conscience because we are giving it a good home, where it will really be seen and heard.”

The instrument was built in the 1860s by the renowned organ-maker William Hill, originally for Burton’s St Paul’s Church, before being moved to the George Street church in 1896.

Meanwhile, Derby-based Graham Penny Auctions has confirmed a buyer has been found for the school rooms bordering the church, with a deal with an unknown developer currently being completed.

The 152-year-old church building is still up for grabs, having failed to meet a reserve price of £80,000 at an auction in December.

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