The dedicated group from St John the Divine Church in Rastrick launched the campaign last Sunday, which aims to raise £ 75,000 to breathe new life into the church organ.
The Conacher organ would be the only one to have survived from the beginnings of cinema.
The invention of the motion picture camera in 1890 ushered in the “silent era” of movies, and the movies remained silent until 1927, and during this period were often accompanied by a movie organ.
The St John’s organ began its life in 1920 when it was installed at the Central Cinema, Harrogate. Records showed it had been installed for £ 3,000. But the theater closed in 1949 and the Conacher moved to St. John’s.
Julia Tum, who is leading the fundraising campaign, says the organ has been in constant use since then and the church has maintained it well, had it serviced regularly and had it repaired if necessary. But, she said it was fair to assume that most of the leatherwork needed to be looked at and that three of the single-height gussets had been re-leathered, but the other two had issues.
“There is a lot of air escaping from the bellows of the great trumpet and the trumpet, which is unusable. There are also a lot of other issues including the tonal quality, the superb Hohl flute, and some of the pipes. After extensive advice and inspection, it is believed that the Conacher should also have a full electrification of the action.
Most new organs are built with electrical actions, which send a low voltage signal to the key and stop mechanisms.
Pam Dimbleby, church music director, said: “The action is just the way the message is sent from keys to bellows and pipes. The organ itself (which creates the sound) will not change, but it will be cleaned, repaired and refurbished. This includes the many organ pipes.
As part of the fundraising campaign, open days will be organized at the church for residents to come and inspect the instrument for themselves.
Ms Tam said: “They will see it now with all its flaws and again after the renovation.
“Many local residents will not have seen an organ like this up close and it will be a wonderful opportunity for them. “
The instrument has a fascinating history and locals believe it to be the last cinema organ still in regular use in a church.
Before movies had their own sound, organists were used to perform silent movie soundtracks
The Rastrick Organ began its life in 1920 when it was installed in the Central Cinema in Harrogate. Records showed it was installed for £ 3,000.
But the central cinema became the first in Harrogate to be equipped for talking cinema in 1929, which meant that the organ was used less and less.
When the Central Cinema closed in 1949, it was then moved to St John’s and opened in November 1955, by the then Wakefield Provost, the Right Reverend Noel T Hopkins.
For another church fundraiser, David James, the restoration project is not just about the enjoyment of the current congregation.
He said, “Music is really important to the church and we are creating a legacy for future generations.
“We are the guardians of the present – and we secure its future.
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