St. Bartholomew's, Armley

The Schulze Organ Story


THE APPEAL: 1996-2000

Thelma Collins, assistant organist since 1975, recollects:

Towards the end of 1995, I was to help launch the biggest appeal fund that St. Bartholomew’s had ever undertaken in the 125 years since it was built, and with a target only marginally falling short of the original building costs.

The PCC had chosen the Churchwardens, Jean Smith and Dr. Colin Robertson, the Curate,
Fr. John Gilbert, the PCC Treasurer, Morris Fernyhough, Organist, Prof. Graham Barber, and his two assistants – Dr. Chris Newton and myself, and, of course, the Vicar, Fr. Timothy Lipscomb, to organise a National Lottery grant application.

After some thought and consultation, Peter Panteli, of U.C.S., based in Ilkley, was brought in to lead the way. He was costly, but worthy of his hire. The Appeal needed to be planned on two fronts. Costs of renovation work had to be worked out in detail, and, since the Lottery Committee demanded that any awarded funding would have to be matched by at least 25% (50% was stipulated at one stage!), it was essential to raise our own funds.

On the Organ side, two firms were asked to tender – Klais of Germany and Harrison & Harrison of Durham. As you have seen, the Schulze Organ already had the funds to proceed with restoration – much fund-raising during the previous 24 years and the amazing legacy of £300,000. So, in theory, St. Bartholomew’s had a good deal of the matching funding for the twin projects.

In 1997, two major concerts were held, the first in the Church, at lunch time, and the second at Sledmere House, the Organist on both occasions being the American, Carlo Curley. Money poured in from many quarters, and by the end of 1997 we had raised £24,935.09.

Meanwhile, a huge dossier, full of facts, figures, and projections, was most professionally presented to the National Lottery Committee for consideration. All we could do then was wait. At last, the all-important survey of the Church, by English Heritage, took place in October, 1997, followed by that of the Organ. The Lottery Committee met every three months, but our application kept being put to one side – it was by no means a straight-forward project. More inspections followed, accompanied by much more of no news at all. A whole year went by, but we did not give up hope.

Then, in November, 1998, Fr. Timothy was informed that a grant for the First Stage had been awarded. St. Bartholomew’s would be required to provide 25% of this funding. We were, of course, elated. Work could go ahead. But, our Vicar and Church Wardens were ultra-cautious. What about the massive costs of the second stage? Could we proceed without a written guarantee of funds for the second stage? We could not use the Organ legacy money to fund it because of the stipulations laid down in the Will. Re-assurance was desperately needed.

Then came the bombshell. At the site meeting held in February, 1999, as various parts of the renovation work were being reviewed, the Heritage Lottery representative declared that the Organ was not to be included in the award. During the previous year, it had been decided that Organ Restoration would no longer be considered by the National Lottery Awards body.

There was talk of doing some of the roofing, for half the cost, but this was not really an option. Things went very quiet, but, behind the scenes, the persuasions continued. It was forcibly argued that Organs were being considered when our Appeal was launched, that our Appeal was principally for our unique Organ, renowned throughout the world, and that if our application had been dealt with even 6 months earlier, the organ would have been included.

Nothing happened. Nothing was heard. But the Vicar and Church Wardens continued with the phone calls and the meetings. They would not give up.

I received a phone call from Father Timothy on Tuesday evening, 25th July, 2000.
Are you sitting down? I sat down.
“We have been awarded a grant for
all the work, Church and Organ.”
We had got there! Now, the work would really begin!”


How to find us

Wesley Road, Armley, Leeds, LS12 1SR 

To make a regular contribution to the Schulze Organ Maintenance Fund,
by Standing Order,


£20.00, payable on 15th March each year.
by Standing Order,

For Organ Concerts around the country, visit:















Organ History M. Collins