Spotlight falls on Blue Coat’s historic Father Willis organ

The Blue Coat School were delighted to receive a £17,800 Heritage Lottery Fund initial grant to develop an exciting and nationally important project, centred on the restoration of their historic Father Willis organ.

Thanks to support from National Lottery players, the project, Blue Coat: For All, plans to restore their rare 1874 pipe organ. It will be used to give public access to the school for concerts and events. Funding would also go towards the preservation of the extensive archive.

As part of the grant they must raise a further £25,000 towards the project through donations and direct fundraising.

The museum-quality Father Willis organ was originally installed in the original Liverpool Blue Coat School building, now the Bluecoat Arts Centre, in the city centre. The organ is a rare school chapel instrument, made even rarer by being in a state school, and would have been heard by John Lennon’s father Alfred, a Blue Coat student during the 1920s, but the restoration project is far more than simply preserving the past.

Headteacher Mr Pennington said: “Thanks to the backing of the Heritage Lottery Fund, this is one of the most exciting and dynamic projects 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.”


About Author: Alan Birkett