Perth church organ taken apart for its first clean in over 100 years

Organ pipes dismantled

In 2018, St. Matthew’s undertook the restoration and cleaning of its church organ – for the first time in over a century.

The restoration and cleaning of the 125-year-old organ at St. Matthew’s Church is the latest bit of work in the pipeline for the iconic place of worship.

Three weeks of painstaking specialist work can begin now the dust has literally settled on the £925,000 building project that saw the heating, seating, lighting and sound brought up to an impressive modern standard.

Sunday services have been temporarily moved to the church hall while the many hundred of metal organ pipes are laid out on the sanctuary floor for each to be individually cleaned.

St Matthew’s Church on Perth’s Tay Street

Around £15,000 was set aside from the original refurbishment budget to get more than a century’s worth of dust and fluff out of the gigantic musical instrument. As far as records show, the St. Matthew’s organ has never been taken apart for cleaning since it was installed in 1896.

“It would have been cheaper to move onto a digital organ,” explained St Matthew’s Rev Scott Burton. “But we saw what was here as a living treasure.

“Having seen it in pieces on the floor, I’m awed by the remarkable skill and workmanship that went into making our organ.

“It is evidence of how well things were made that it has remained in working order, unaltered, till now.”

Rev Burton continued: “You have to see it to believe it. The smallest pipe is the size of a drinking straw and the biggest is as big as a railway sleeper.

“Parishioners who have seen the pipes placed meticulously on the floor in their correct note order have joked that like an Ikea flat pack, the worry is if after it’s all put back together we have a bit left over… but seriously, I trust in the expertise of the organ cleaning company.”

During the building work in 2016 the organ was protected with a plywood case and a tarpaulin, but dust still found its way in to the network of air tubes.

The biggest pipe is as big as a railway sleeper, the smallest is no bigger than a drinking straw

It was judged worth waiting till all the building disturbance was over before beginning the pipe cleaning.

And on top of that, with the Perth Crematorium closed for a long period, the church was busy as an alternative venue for funerals until just two weeks ago.

After that, the organist, Margaret Broad, will be back in her familiar seat, benefiting from the overhaul of St Matthew’s mighty organ, the icing on the cake of a historic community project to see the church right for the next 100 years and more.

Melanie Bonn – Perthshire Advertiser