Passengers at London Bridge were treated to an impromptu concert today, as a Victorian church organ found a new lease of life amongst the arches.
The 1880s style, 250 pipe organ, which originally lived at United Reformed Church in Whetstone, north London, was rehomed at the station by charity Pipe Up for Pipe Organs, which rescues old, abandoned church organs and rehomes them.
An official event welcoming the organ to the station took place today, with Network Rail’s Chair Sir Peter Hendy, members of the station team and the charity’s founders all in attendance to witness the official launch.
Sir Peter Hendy, Network Rail’s chair, said: “I’m delighted to see the positive reaction we’ve received from passengers since the installation of this lovely organ and there couldn’t be a more fitting venue for the sound of a pipe organ to resonate than in the Victorian arches at London Bridge.
“Several organists have since taken to social media to share their visit where they have put on performances for all to hear.
“I’m proud that the station team have worked so hard with the Charity ‘Pipe Up for Pipe Organs’ to bring this project to life.”
The station was delighted to welcome professional organist Anna Lapwood to play at the event. Anna played with Marcella De Gale who works in the security team at Network Rail stations for contractor SES. The pair recently went viral after videos of them performing together at the station hit the internet.
Phil Sherratt, editor of Modern Railways, also serenaded passengers by tinkling the ivories with renditions of JS Bach and the theme from Thomas the Tank Engine.
Anna Lapwood, organist, said: “As organists, we often lament the fact that our instruments are often hidden away out of sight and so they are rather difficult to stumble across in everyday life. The organ at London Bridge station has completely changed this!
“It has been so moving to see it played at almost all hours of the day by everyone from small children trying an organ for the first time, all the way through to professionals who happen to be passing by. Thank you to the team at ‘Pipe Up for Pipe Organs’ for reminding us that this is an instrument that people find fascinating, if only they can get close enough to try it themselves!”
Martin Renshaw, organ restorer and founder of the charity Pipe Up for Pipe Organs, said: “The pipe organ Network Rail has allowed Pipe Up for Pipe Organs to install has been a runaway success.
“It has demonstrated beyond any doubt the huge public support for playing and listening to pipe organs, from all sectors of society. We want to thank Network Rail for creating a turning point in the appreciation of this, the king of instruments.”
Lucy McAuliffe, Network Rail, stations director, said: “It’s great to hear the organ being played throughout the station, the sound really does echo through the arches and adds a nice touch to the hustle and bustle of daily commuting life for our passengers.”