York & North Yorkshire

York Minster: German man returns 'stolen' organ pipe

Klaus Weber Image copyright Klaus Weber
Image caption Klaus Weber says he thought the theft was a "stupid idea"

A German tourist has contacted a British cathedral offering to return an organ pipe taken as a holiday souvenir 50 years ago.

The pipe was removed from York Minster in the summer of 1969 by one of a group of young men.

One of them, Klaus Weber, said he had not taken the pipe, but had held on to it and felt the time was right to offer to return it.

York Minster said it had been unaware the pipe was missing.

'Pipe in trousers'

Mr Weber, 72, said he and six other German students had seen a collection of pipes from the organ when they visited the Minster.

One of the group decided to take one, Mr Weber said. "We said to him 'you can't do it, we are tourists we should give good behaviour'.

"He didn't listen to us and he took this small pipe and put it in his trousers.

"It was a stupid idea and it was a crime in my idea."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption York Minster was built over about 250 years and completed in 1472

The student held on to the pipe until it was time to return to Germany when he decided to abandon it rather than take it through customs.

Mr Weber stepped in to rescue it and has kept it ever since.

The organ, which has more than 5,400 pipes and dates from the 1830s, is undergoing a £2m restoration project.

A cathedral spokesperson said it was very unlikely the pipe could be returned to the organ but they would happily add it to their collection.

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