RESTORATION of the Selby Abbey organ has begun, after a campaign raised £440,000.

The Selby Abbey Organ Appeal was launched in June 2012, to help bring the Edwardian-era organ back to its full glory.

The instrument was designed and built specially for the Abbey in 1909 by leading English organ builder William Hill, but had deteriorated to such a point it would be unplayable within five years.

A spokesman said: "The Abbey organ is widely regarded as a masterpiece. It had been patched and repaired a number of times but by 2012 it was clear that it needed complete refurbishment.

"Organs are still hand-built, using centuries-old techniques with costly raw materials. This organ is as large as the largest cathedral organs in the country and therefore costs just as much to restore."

Complete restoration of the organ will cost £520,000, and the appeal will continue for the next 18 months while the work is carried out.

A celebratory concert has already been announced for September 9, 2016, when the work is expected to be complete, with a performance by three internationally-renowned organists including John Schott Whiteley from York Minster.

Next summer, there will also be ten free weekly lunchtime organ recitalson a digital organ, which has been installed along with twelve speakers, to be used until the Hill organ has been restored. The dates will be announced in the New Year.

To mark the refurbishment, three 1962 recordings by Fernando Germani - the Pope's organist at St Peter's in Rome, who also trained John Scott Whiteley - have been digitally remastered and re-released on CD.

All proceeds from the CDs - which is available on - will go towards the organ restoration fund.