Former Sunderland Holy Trinity church organ gets a spectacular new setting in Malta

An organ from a former East End church in Sunderland is nearing the end of its restoration programme – at its new home in Malta.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 4:42 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 2:43 pm

And the end result is a spectacular setting for the former Holy Trinity church organ which now has pride of place in Paola.

The process to restore it began soon after and is expected to be completed in the middle of January, said project manager David Jenkins.

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The magnificent restoration work on the organ.

"There is a lot more to go but we are putting silver leaf to all the facade pipes. They will look quite spectacular.”

To celebrate its restoration, a concert is planned on Friday, February 26 next year with the Maltese president, British High Commissioner, Italian ambassador and other senior dignitaries in attendance.

The organist will be Wayne Marshall OBE and invitations will also be sent to members of the Save Our Heritage group who fought for the piece of history to be saved.

David told how an ‘extremely complicated and very detailed’ restoration process had been carried out but it had been a ‘very interesting project’.

The organ takes shape in Malta.

“Historically, with the link between the UK and Malta, there was historical precedence for this. The English romantic organs are far more capable of filling a large space.”

A lot of restoration was needed on the organ which had sections which dated from the 18th to 20th centuries.

David added: “It is far more cost effective to do the restoration bit by bit before we install it.”

The priest in charge, Father Marc Andre Camilleri, told the Echo in May: “We are of course extremely happy that the Holy Trinity Sunderland organ has arrived safely at the Basilica after its 2,000 miles road journey.”

The organ is lifted into place in the Basilica.

He added: "Currently our organ builder, Giuseppe Mastrovaleria, is cataloguing all the components ready for cleaning and restoration. This process will take several weeks. Once everything is clean and repaired he will start to put the organ back together again.”

The side sections of the organ have been completed and just need facade pipes. The main section is being installed in the west gallery of the Basilica.

David added: “It is nice to bring a British organ over and restore it.”

The last music played on the organ was Blaenwern which is a Welsh tune used for the hymn Love Divine All Loves Excelling, written by Charles Wesley.

Hard at work on the restoration.

The Maltese community has already vowed that this will be the first thing which is played on the newly-restored organ.

Father Marc added: “Having this fine, historic instrument is a great joy to us. There are many historical links between Malta and the UK and especially for Paola, as many of its residents worked at the Royal Naval shipyard, which was in the parish.

"Although it was sad for the people of Holy Trinity to lose the the organ, I know they are reassured by the fact that she has been saved from sale as spare parts. "

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The disassembled organ at its new home.

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The church organ arrives at its new home in Malta after a 2,000-mile journey from Sunderland.
The impressive Basilica of Christ the King church in Paola, Malta.
The priest in charge, Father Marc Andre Camilleri, pictured with Kath O’Leary who brought a copy of the Echo's article in May to the Basilica in Malta.