Essex

Westcliff's WWI memorial organ finds new home in Germany

Organ at Westcliff church
Image caption The organ was now "rarely used", a church spokesman said

An organ installed in memory of soldiers who died in World War One has been played for the last time before being shipped to its new German home.

A church near Dusseldorf has bought the instrument from Avenue Baptist Church in Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex.

Minister Andrew Picton said sending it to Germany was a "remarkable symbol" of "Christian reconciliation" 100 years after the two countries were at war.

The "rarely used" organ was sold as the church is being redeveloped.

Avenue Baptist Church congregation raised money to fund the organ between 1919 to 1921 in memory of the 15 men from the church who died during World War One.

Image caption The organ was dedicated to those who died in World War One
Image caption It is expected to take about three days to dismantle the organ

It was made by organ manufacturers Henry Speechley and installed in 1921.

However, the 120-year-old church is now being redeveloped "to make it more appropriate for 21st Century worship" and it was decided to sell the instrument.

'Perfectly suited'

Rick Owen, from the church, said it was initially advised it would be hard to find a buyer and it was feared the organ would be scrapped.

"Someone in Norfolk expressed an interest, but it fell through," he said. "Then a colleague posted its details on websites specialising in church organs - and within a week a German church got in touch."

Image caption The Westcliff church is currently being renovated

The church, Bauernkirche, in Iserlohn, decided that the organ "suited them perfectly".

An organ builder sent from Germany will take three days to dismantle the instrument.

The Baptist church declined to say how much it had received from the sale.

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