Blue Coat Willis Organ Restoration
The Liverpool Blue Coat School, one of our partners on the My Bluecoat project, is in the process of restoring its Father Willis pipe organ, which once stood proudly in our building when it was a school. From 1874, it was situated in the school chapel on the first floor in what is today the Bistro, positioned in the curve in front of the current balcony.
Never having been rebuilt, the organ remains an original, museum-quality, unaltered Willis 'peerage' style organ. Its mere survival sends organ experts into ecstasy. It was moved to the School’s current building in 1906, and is one of Blue Coat’s listed features. Although still just about playable after 144 years of use, it is however in urgent need of major restoration off-site, and without this is in danger of further deterioration.
As part of a new project, Blue Coat: For All, the School is making great headway with restoration of its rare and historic organ, which presently stands rather forlornly in the school's Shirley Hall. Once restored, it will be the focus of public choral and organ concerts, and will also allow the Blue Coat Organ Scholarship to be revived in a much-expanded form, in partnership with the two Liverpool cathedrals.
Blue Coat: For All also includes digitally cataloguing the School’s archive and creating an outreach programme to primary and specialist schools and community groups, using the restored Father Willis organ to teach music and science.
The instrument’s own history encapsulates that of Liverpool itself: a merchant family, who grew rich by trading in cotton with the slave plantations of the American south, presented this expensive gift to the School in memory of the family head, James Hardy Macrae.
You can find out more about the project on the school website