• Blue Coat School Educate Magazine Father Willis organ

Blue Coat launch ‘For All’ project

The Liverpool Blue Coat School has received a £17,800 Heritage Lottery Fund initial grant to develop an exciting and nationally important project centred on the restoration of its historic pipe organ.

Thanks to support from National Lottery players, the project, called Blue Coat: For All, plans to restore the school’s rare 1874-built Father Willis organ. It will be used to give public access to the school for concerts and events. The grant will also pay for preserving the school’s archive and its public access.

The Liverpool Blue Coat School must raise a further £25,000 itself towards the Blue Coat: For All project through donations and direct fund-raising.

The museum-quality Father Willis organ was originally installed in the original Liverpool Blue Coat School building (now the Bluecoat Arts Centre) in Liverpool city centre, during 1874, and was moved to the school’s current Grade II* listed premises at Wavertree, south Liverpool.

In a separate initiative to expand use of the restored Father Willis organ, the school proposes a Blue Coat Organ scholarship for both pupils and external students using the school’s Willis organ and both Liverpool Cathedral and Liverpool RC Metropolitan organs. Also a 50-member Blue Coat community choir will be created.

Mike Pennington, The Liverpool Blue Coat School headteacher, said: “The Blue Coat: For All project, thanks to the backing of the Heritage Lottery Fund, is one of the most exciting and dynamic we have launched in many years.

“We shall not only be able to restore the Father Willis organ, which is a rare instrument of museum quality, but also use it as a spring-board to expand into an entirely new public musical realm, by bringing in the community to enjoy concerts at the Blue Coat School.

“Our organ scholarship proposal, combining the organ resources of our school with those of the two great Liverpool Cathedrals will create an unsurpassed national music training opportunity for young people.”

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About Author: Alan Birkett