Restoration may be defined as the process of returning an organ to its original state, or to as near its original state as is possible, or to some other chosen earlier state. The word 'restoration' is often misused to cover various forms of rebuilding or alteration. In some cases a little-altered instrument may be restored to its original state by a simple programme of cleaning, repair and adjustment. Other instances may require the reproduction of missing or damaged parts. In severe cases the whole organ may be rebuilt in the style of the original builder round some surviving material. In this case the work is likely to be of a more speculative nature and should be termed reconstruction.
All original components should be preserved and properly repaired. Components that have been severely damaged or altered beyond repair may be replaced by reproductions. All repairs and replacement parts should be made in a manner consistent with the original work, both in materials used and method of construction. Any repairs or changes necessary during the course of restoration should be reversible, in case it be found at a later date that the work needs to be done again.
Certain organs that have been greatly altered may be incapable of restoration. If returning the instrument to a former state would involve considerable speculative reconstruction and/or considerable further alteration to original material, then restoration should not be carried out.
The restoration of historic organs should always be carried out by a professional specialising in work on the type of organ involved, and should never be entrusted to amateurs. For the sake of the their own investment as well as the preservation of the organ, the owners of organs and their advisers should investigate the reputation, previous work and references of any prospective restorer, including relevant accreditation by the Institute of British Organ Building (IBO). An historic organ may be irreparably damaged by incompetent or unqualified workers, but a well-restored historic organ can be a musical treasure and a legacy to future generations.
A simple guide to the care of organs, published in 2002 by the Council for the Care of Churches.
This user-friendly guide provides advice on the care and repair of existing organs as well as recommendations on new and second-hand organs. It also contains sections on dealing with organbuilders, finance and contracts.
Church House Publishing ISBN 0 7151 7594 7
Towards the Conservation and Restoration of Historic Organs
Papers given at the international conference on organ conservation and restoration held in Liverpool in 1999
Church House Publishing ISBN 0 7151 7586 6