Antique British pipe organ regaining its splendid voice

A 125 year-old pipe organ being brought to life by Brian Bugeja is in its final phase of restoration.

The instrument is housed at the Maria Regina Church in Marsa.

"The remaining work will give me more satisfaction than the first phases because it will include fitting in a set of pipes and listen to the sound they produce.

"The original drive, made of lead and which has now been replaced by another material, had a small diameter. This meant it did not supply enough volume of wind and that the slightest leakage of air resulted in failure to play the note. This would happen with the wider pipes.

"It's an extreme challenge to take on such a restoration job. The slightest change in the wind pressure will affect the whole organ," Mr Bugeja said.

An organ builder and restorer, an accomplished musician and former drydocks engineer, Mr Bugeja had done most of the metal work and woodwork himself. This is unlike what happens in organ-building firms where Mr Bugeja studied, like Oberlinger factory in Mainz, Germany and George Sixsmith & Son in Manchester, UK where each employee is assigned a specific job and decisions are taken by a team of crafsmen and not individually, as is the case with Mr Bugeja.

The past two years have been taken up with painstaking restoration of the wind chest, the console, which was practically built from scratch, the pneumatic reservoir (bellows), also built from scratch, the stops and the wooden pipes.

"This is one of the few pipe organs that still works with a wind motor. Others have been left to deteriorate and, in some of them, the wind motor was replaced by an electric motor", Mr Bugeja said.

The organ was originally at the Immaculate Conception church in Burnt Oak, London. It was bought by Fr Valent Calleja in 1982 for his church when he was parish priest in Marsa.

Current parish priest Fr Paul Bugeja said the parishioners were looking forward to hear the organ being played.


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