Restoration of Walcker Pipe Organ

Organ restoration no longer a pipe dream thanks to Heritage Lottery Funding


The congregation of Dalziel St Andrews Parish Church in Motherwell can look forward to organ music again filling the church as they celebrate a grant of £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to restore their historic and nationally important Walcker Pipe Organ. The restoration is part of the Church’s Makeover Project – Forward for Jesus.


The organ was installed in the Grade “B” Listed Church building in 1900 and remains in original condition having been well maintained over its long life. The passage of time, however, has taken its toll and a complete restoration is now required. The advice received from Gerhard Walcker, of the German based manufacturers, and other experts in this specialist field, is that the organ is very well worth restoring and, when back to full use, can be used to support and uplift worship at DStA for many years to come.


The office-bearers and congregation have been faced with the daunting task of raising the substantial budget to take forward this work with an estimate of over £100,000 drawn up for the work which will be required to bring the organ back into use. Many fund raising events have been carried out over the past year, and more are in the pipeline.


The organ was installed in 1900 with very generous help from Lady Hamilton with the Hamilton family then worshiping at DStA. One of the feature stained glass windows in the sanctuary is dedicated to Lady Hamilton and the Hamilton family. The present day successors to Lady Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord Hamilton of Dalzell and Rt. Hon. Lord Hamilton of Epsom  have both been in touch with the congregation and forwarded generous cheques in support of the appeal to have the organ restored.


Recognition of the importance of the instrument was emphasised when the London based British Institute of Organ Studies awarded the organ their Certificate Grade 1 “in recognition of it being an outstanding instrument by G.F.Walcker 1900, in original condition.” The organ is now listed in the Institute’s Register of Historic Pipe Organ’s “ being an instrument of importance to the national heritage and one deserving careful preservation for the benefit of future generations.” The Institute confirm that this is the first pipe organ in Scotland to be awarded this certificate.


Expressions of support have also been received by the congregation from local M.P. Frank Roy and M.S.P. Lord MacConnell as well as from the Motherwell Heritage Society.


Hamilton Presbytery and the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland have been very supportive of the complete Makeover Project and have authorised a search for grant assistance to help secure the funds needed by the congregation.


Now, thanks to wonderful support from Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland (HLF), added to the support announced last year by North Lanarkshire Council’s Councillor Pentland on behalf of the Environmental Key Fund (£30,000), the Property Convener at the church can begin the process of securing a specialist contractor to carry out the work of restoration. An application was made to HLF under the “Your Heritage” programme which has a ceiling grant award of £50,000. There is a great deal of competition for the scarce resources which HLF is able to distribute but they have been most generous in awarding the maximum grant for this special organ restoration scheme.


A specialist Consultant, Mr James MacKenzie of Glasgow, has been guiding the office-bearers as they take forward the scheme of restoration. An essential part of the Heritage Lottery Grant relates to education of all as regards the importance of this local heritage item. Special events are planned over the next few months to address this challenge with a start being made by inclusion of details of the organ on the church’s web-site. The younger members of the congregation will be fully involved in the restoration scheme as will local schools.


Director of Music at the church, Mr Eric Geddes said, “We have missed the very special sound of the pipe organ in our praise over the past year and we all now look forward to the return to full use of the organ as an integral part of our worship at Dalziel St Andrews Parish Church.”


The Parish Minister at DStA, Rev Derek Hughes paid tribute to all in the congregation who continue to work so very hard in raising funds for the overall Project including the organ restoration. He added, ”Our Director of Music continues to lead the praise very well indeed with the electronic instrument available to him but we all look forward to the time when we can lift our voices in praise and do so with the wonderful help from the pipe organ. We are so very grateful for the support internally within the congregation and also from those outwith DStA. Diane, Philippa and the staff at the Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland have been so helpful and supportive, as have the local staff David and Ellen at the Environmental Key Fund.”


Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be able to help preserve this wonderful example of a Walcker organ. Its marvellous sound will once again bring enjoyment to the local community through worship and recitals for many years to come.”


In the next few months more special events are planned at the church to help raise funds for the Makeover Project. A Scots Night on 21 March will be followed by a Daffodil Tea on 14 April. A Concert by the St John’s Singers from Hamilton is being held on Saturday 7 May with all proceeds dedicated to the organ appeal fund.


Services of worship are held each Sunday at 11.00a.m. and 6.30p.m. in Dalziel St Andrews with all most welcome to come along.