Beechworth fights to bring home original organ

SING HER HOME: The organ in its original position at Beechworth Town Hall in the 1880s. Picture: SUPPLIED
SING HER HOME: The organ in its original position at Beechworth Town Hall in the 1880s. Picture: SUPPLIED

Beechworth residents are rallying to bring a part of the town’s history home. 

The original 1886 Town Hall organ was a fixture of the building until 1910 ,according to the Organ Historical Trust of Australia.

In 1910 it moved to an Anglican church in Dandenong, then was placed in a Ballarat’s St Patrick Cathedral in 1931 before being installed at the St Alban’s Anglican Church where it remains. 

However with the North Melbourne church officially closing on December 3, 2017, the organ has been listed for sale and Beechworth residents are determined to bring home a piece of history. 

Beechworth historian Darren Sutton said it was a fantastic opportunity for the town to reclaim lost history. 

“I’d love to see it back here rather than sold off to some other location where it doesn’t apply and isn’t part of the original building,” he said.

“Many other items have come back to Beechworth over the years that were part of our early history and it’s important they are rehomed here.

“The fact it still exists all these years later is very exciting.”

Mr Sutton said many pieces of history were stored away, and slowly disappeared to different parts of the state and country. 

He said it would be fascinating to investigate the organ’s journey through the state. 

“I’d like to see council get on involved in bringing the organ back,” he said.

“It’s original place was at the town hall and now that’s a council building.

“I think it would help tourism, it’s a working organ so being able to have musical recitals adds another dimension to our rich tourism offerings – it’s not Kelly, it’s not the gold rush, it offers something new.”

Beechworth business owner Geoff Brown said anything with heritage value enhances the town and profile. 

“This town is built on heritage and history promotion, we’re one of the most well preserved gold rush towns in Australia, anything that adds to that is a benefit,” he said.

“I think it will help tourism and help the town feel like it has a better sense of the heritage and historical identity.”

Indigo mayor Jenny O’Connor has thrown her support behind a bid to bring the organ home, but was not in a position to purchase the organ. 

She said the community were in negotiations to receive funding. 

“Council supports the notion of repatriating the organ back to its home in Beechworth and notes the challenges this poses,” Cr O’Connor said.

“Inquiries are being made about possible options and avenues in relation to this historic piece. Hopefully these inquiries will be useful for the community-driven fundraising that has started.”