Leeds Town Hall organ finds new home through recycling project with visitors entertained by 53-year-old music

The console of Leeds Town Hall’s spectacular Pipe Organ has found a new home at Yeadon Town Hall, where, thanks to the latest technology, visitors will be entertained by the same notes it played at the over the past 53 years.

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The innovative exchange took place during the historic refurbishment of the unique organ in Leeds Town Hall, which officially started last year.

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The innovative exchange took place during the historic refurbishment of the unique organ in Leeds Town Hall, which officially began last year. Photo: James Hardisty.

The program includes the removal and replacement of much of the pipework and internal workings of the organ, including the console, the keyboard that organists play during concerts.

Spotting the opportunity to salvage a key piece from the historic organ, Yeadon’s team asked if they could give the console a new home in exchange for a contribution to the project from Leeds City Hall.

Once a chord was reached, each individual note and organ playing was then sampled and recorded for 10 seconds in a process that took 24 hours.

The organ console will now be refurbished and installed at Yeadon Town Hall, where, thanks to specialist software and an array of 30 high-tech speakers, it will once again play sounds exactly as they were heard at Leeds Town Hall from 1969 to 2021.

Yeadon Town Hall Manager Jamie Hudson said: “We are extremely proud to bring the Leeds Town Hall Organ Console to its new home at Yeadon Town Hall. Leeds Town Hall is a truly iconic building here in Yorkshire, and it’s wonderful to think that we can now enjoy a little piece of its history.

“As an organ fanatic, I can say with confidence that the organ console will be cherished here at City Hall and will continue to bring joy to the local community.”

Work on the Leeds Town Hall organ is being carried out by specialist engineers Nicholson and Co. Ltd, who say it is one of the biggest such projects the country has ever seen seen.

Originally built by Gray and Davison of London to designs by William Spark and Henry Smart in 1853, the years have begun to take their toll on some features of the organ, meaning work is vital to its ensure it can be played for future generations.

A fundraising campaign is underway to secure grants, sponsorships and donations to support the Leeds Town Hall Organ Project during the refurbishment.

Councilor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s Executive Member for Economy, Culture and Education, said: “Thanks to the imagination of those working in the city’s cultural community, the public will now have the chance to enjoy the magnificent sound of the Leeds Town Hall Organ in a brand new setting.

“We are absolutely delighted that there has been an innovative new opportunity to continue the proud legacy of the organ and that a new chapter has been written in the history of this remarkable instrument.”

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