A CHURCH has received £91,000 for a multi-media project to restore its 100-year-old church organ and install technology so it can be fully appreciated.

Christ Church in Great Ayton has received the grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an ambitious community-wide project, which involves restoring its Binns organ to its original 1899 condition and researching the story behind it.

The project will be led by the church and involve local history groups, musicians, schools and the community.

As well as restoring the instrument to its original condition, the story of its background and the people involved with it is also being researched.

The local history group is researching the organ and its original handblowers in the village. They were responsible for funnelling air to the organ while it was being played and many of them inscribed their names and events in the organ loft.

Church treasurer Ken Taylor said: “When we were examining the organ loft, we found names carved into the woodwork. Nowadays motors blow air into the organ, but in the old days it was done by hand.

“Some of those people carved their names into the woodwork and the events they were at such as weddings. There’s even one piece of historical graffiti from the inaugural concert in 1899.”

Wood of Huddersfield Organ Builders will restore the Grade II-listed historic Binns organ and re-instate its original hand-blowing mechanism. The work should be completed by August and a film of the restoration will be created by Ithica Films in Middlesbrough.

The newly restored organ will then be the focus of a series of workshops for local children and adults, which will be run by Great Ayton’s Friends of Music group, working in partnership with Professor David Baker, from the Halifax Organ Academy.

A series of organ concerts over the coming years will be staged for the local community.

The money will also pay for cameras to be installed on the organ and a screen, so that images of the organist can be projected onto a screen, to make concerts more visual.

Churchwarden Martin Simmons, who put together the funding bid, said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of Heritage Lottery Fund and are confident this restoration, followed by concerts and workshops, will encourage interest in organ music and delight the audiences.”

Christ Church vicar, Rev Paul Peverell said: "We are thrilled to have secured this grant and hope that when the restored organ is back in place later this year that we can encourage more people to take up this king of instruments."