One of my most inspiring days spent in Black River was this day, for so many reasons. I was so blessed to have met Allison Morris of Real Jamaica Vacations and she’s one very inspiring lady. We had been in contact via email a few weeks before my visit to the south coast and she offered to take me on her historical walking tour of Black River, which I gladly accepted because I LOVE Jamaican history! I will be doing a separate blog post of that tour in the near future. But this segment of her tour – inside the 175 year old St John’s Anglican church – deserves it’s own feature post.
You don’t have to be a church organ enthusiast to appreciate this magnificent piece of history!
The reason Allison inspires me so much is because she comes from a long generational line of family who is from Black River in St Elizabeth, and is single-handedly trying to keep the rich history of this whole town alive by offering her Way Back When historical tour. She has spent a lot of years digging deep for every shred of historical information one can obtain about this town, which is way more than you might think. I will save the details for another blog post but through her tour I also learned that she is the organist in this church and she’s desperately trying to restore this organ back to its original wonder so many (102) years ago!
Watch the video below and then read what follows at the end of this post.
When I returned home I was compelled to email Allison and get the details of this organ so that when I wrote about it I could be accurate. The reason I wanted to write about it is that she has been trying to raise funds to restore the instrument and I think this is such a worthy cause.
This was her response:
“The organ is a 1911 R Spurden Rutt and Co pipe organ. It bears a little plaque with this information, along with the words “Gold Medal Award”. It was installed in 1915, and was originally pumped by hand, as Black River had been without electricity from 1899. I’m not sure if it came with an electric blower or if that was installed afterwards.
There is no sound from the pedals unless the couplers (Great to Pedal and Swell to Pedal) are pulled out. Most of the stops are not producing their true sound when pulled out. There are some notes that stick and keep sounding when they are not being played. The volume is much lower than it should be. The estimate for repairs from a German company is over 90,000 Euros.
We still use the organ every week, despite its failings.”
If you or anyone you know can or would like to contribute to the preservation of this incredible pipe organ please either contact me or email Allison Morris directly.