'Wonderful' church organ sent to Germany

By Gillian Sharpe
BBC Scotland News

Media caption,
The organ that will be played again after being saved by a German Church.

After more than a century filling a Renfrewshire Church with music, the Kilbarchan West organ fell largely silent in 2015 when two congregations in the village united and the church was no longer used.

Now the instrument, described as one of the best of its kind, is to be sent to a church in Germany, which was badly damaged during World War Two.

Image source, Bill Kean
Image caption,
The organ has been in the church for more than a century

"It's an absolutely wonderful instrument to play," says Tom Ferguson, who was organist at Kilbarchan West Church for more than 35 years until it closed.

"I remember the very first time I saw it, I thought wow - this is fantastic."

Image caption,
Work is under way to dismantle the organ

When they put the organ online looking for a new home they got inquiries from as far afield as Australia, Poland, Italy and, of course, Germany.

A small team of organ builders from Germany has already begun dismantling this grand old instrument which was installed in 1904 by the London makers Hill and son.

Image caption,
The organ will be transported to Germany at the end of the month
Image caption,
Andreas Mahnerd is part of the team dismantling the organ

By the end of the month it will be on a truck bound for a church in Prenzlau, near the Polish border.

The organist there was keen to have an instrument by an English maker.

"He said to me for 15 years he was searching the internet for this," says organ builder, Andreas Mahnerd who is part of the team.

"Now he found this one and it's a very good instrument."

Image caption,
Tom Ferguson played the organ in the church for 35 years

Scaffolding gives access to the higher reaches of the organ and allows for some painstaking work such as taking down the pipes one by one.

Like a giant jigsaw, pieces are labelled so they can all be put back together again at the other end. There is also a good deal of restoration work to be done.

Ongoing work on the church in Germany means it could be 2020 or later before the Kilbarchan organ is being played again - but it will be.

Image caption,
The organ is going to this church in Prenzlau

"I'm delighted that it's going to get a new home and it will live again," says Tom Ferguson.

He hopes to get a chance to play it again in Germany.

"It could have ended up in a skip," he said.

"It's a grade one listed instrument, one of the best around. It would have been tragic if it had been destroyed.

"It's powerful, the most marvellous instrument imaginable."