Damage and Restoration

War Damage

A landmine dropped in Kelvin Way in 1941 and caused havoc in the vicinity. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum sustained extensive damage to glass and parts of the structure of the building.

Fifty tons of glass was shattered. Plaster casts in the Sculpture Court were damaged and the organ was rendered unplayable. In due course, repair work had to be carried out. No attempt was made to rebuild the organ, although this was the fashionable thing to do at that time. Had the organ been rebuilt, it would have most likely resulted in ‘modernisation’.

It is fortunate indeed that the organ escaped any such treatment. It remains today entirely as intended by its builder and is ideal for the authentic performance of the late 19th-century recital repertoire. 

Deterioration

Once the war damage to the organ was repaired, recitals and concerts were once again a regular feature of life in Kelvingrove. The first recital was given on 9 December 1951, by AM Henderson, Organist to the University of Glasgow, together with the University Chapel Choir. Other recitals of this period include Wilfred J Emery, Purcell J Mansfield and Dr TCL Pritchard.

For the following twenty-five years or so, regular series of recitals were arranged in conjunction with the Glasgow Society of Organists.

By the mid-1970s, the condition of the organ deteriorated rapidly. It got to the stage where only a small portion remained playable, and a complete restoration had to be undertaken. 

Restoration

The restoration of the organ cost around £180,000. Glasgow City Council met the cost with the generous assistance of the Glasgow Art Gallery and Museums Association (now known as the Friends of Glasgow Museums) and public contribution through collection boxes. Work on the restoration began in November 1987 and was completed in December 1988.

The work was faithfully carried out and supervised at every stage. This was to ensure not only the highest standard of workmanship but to ensure restoration true to the original concept and design of the organ:

  • structurally
  • mechanically
  • tonally

The work was undertaken by NP Mander Ltd, Organ Builders, of St Peter’s Organ Works, London E2. Mr James A MacKenzie, Consultant Organ Builder, of Clarkston, Glasgow, carried out the technical supervision. ​

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