AFTER more than a decade of campaigning, scores of fundraising events and months of restoration, Colchester’s prized Moot Hall organ is being put back together – piece by piece.

The organ was first played at Colchester Town Hall’s official opening in 1902, but has not worked properly for more than a decade.

For years, the Friends of Colchester Moot Hall Organ group has called for its restoration.

And now, thanks to their dedication and a £416,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant the long process of putting it back together again is well underway.

Former mayor Nigel Chapman, who started the restoration campaign, became involved in the project when he was mayor in 2002.

When he tried to organise an event to mark the Town Hall’s 100th anniversary, he discovered the organ did not work properly.

He hoped to raise money during the year to fund the repair work, but did not anticipate it would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

He set up the Friends of the Moot Hall Organ group, and the team has spent 13 years trying to complete the project.

Last year Colchester Council received a £416,000 grant from Heritage Lottery Fund, which finally meant the work would go ahead.

Mr Chapman said: “Once I started it I wanted to finish it.

“I’m thrilled to bits. It’s been 13 years of pretty hard work. I’m delighted it’s back in situ.

“It hasn’t been played properly for years. To get that all back again in the future will be remarkable.

“I think it is an important integral part of the Moot Hall.”

Durham based organ restorers Harrison and Harrison were given the contract to repair the instrument and a team have been working on the project since July.

They washed and cleaned each of the organ’s 3,000 pipes, and made replacements for the damaged ones.

They also replaced the small pieces of leather which stop air escaping from the pipes.

Although some work was done to the organ about 50 years ago, there are no exact records of what was actually carried out.

Mr Chapman said: “A lot of hours have gone into it.

“A lot of the work hasn’t been done since it was put in more than 110 years ago.”

Despite the major repairs, the organ will not look much different, but the visible pipes which had been painted white will be put back to their original gold colour.

They aim to have the work finished for a demonstration session on Wednesday, March 4.