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£250k donation towards the restoration of Bristol Beacon’s unique organ

Three people stand in high visibility jackets and hard hats beneath a stone archway

In 2019 the J & M Britton Charitable Trust, announced a generous donation of £250,000 towards the restoration of Bristol Beacon’s historic organ, which is a key feature in our ambitious transformation programme currently underway. This donation means that, from the re-opening of the concert venue, the organ will be called the Britton Organ.

The ‘late Romantic’ organ is a remarkable feat of engineering, taking five years to build more than sixty years ago. It is three storeys high, houses 5,372 pipes (ranging from tiny one-inch long ‘tin whistles’ to 32-foot pipes), 4,000 electromagnets (controlling the airflow) and 300 miles of wiring. The renowned Messrs Harrison and Harrison Ltd of Durham built it after the previous organ was tragically lost in a fire at the Hall in 1945 and it was officially unveiled with a grand ceremony in 1956.

The organ has remained largely untouched since it was constructed and requires a major restoration, costed at just over £1 million. We are actively looking for additional support to complete the restoration of this extraordinary instrument.

As part of the redevelopment of Bristol Beacon, the organ was carefully dismantled from its home in the main auditorium and taken back to Durham in 2019 to go into storage, ready for major repair and restoration before coming back to the transformed Hall in time for its re-opening.

Another major part of the gift is the bi-annual organ scholarship, to be named the Britton Organ Scholarship for a talented young (school-aged) Bristol organist who will likely go on to further music studies. The scholarship will allow this student regular access to play the organ across their scholarship year and will also include a public concert performed by the student on the organ.

“We are incredibly grateful for this generous donation. It is a significant amount of money that really kick-starts the funding for the restoration of our amazing organ. We look forward to being able to reinstall it when we’ve completed our transformation, fully restored to its former glory and ready to fill the Hall with its wonderful sound once again.”

Louise Mitchell, chief executive of Bristol Beacon

 

“We are delighted to be able to provide this contribution to the restoration of Bristol Beacon’s organ and to be able to help restore an instrument that is so important to the artistic life of the city, so that it can continue to be enjoyed by future generations of Bristolians.”

Robert Bernays, J & M Britton Charitable Trust

Restoration and Rehousing

The repair works, which have been underway since 2018, include:

  • extending the protective screen
  • installing adjustable reflectors
  • removing, cleaning and storing vulnerable pipework and other elements
  • cleaning and encasing the larger pipes
  • re-leathering the wind system
  • overhauling the console and mounting it on a mobile platform
  • removing and repairing the humidifier and checking and updating the electrics.

On return to the new Bristol Beacon auditorium, the organ will require reassembly and evaluation of the acoustics in the new space and tuning.

Donate to the organ appeal

Make a donation today and help us restore The Britton Organ – our venue’s magnificent Harrison & Harrison Pipe Organ.

Amount to donate: £

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