ONE of the smallest churches in north Essex has launched a £10,000 appeal to restore its historic 180 year old organ.

Chappel United Reformed Church, which was originally built as a store for a local builder, was established in 1901 as a Congregational Church.

It is a small brick-built building off the main road to Halstead near the corner as one approaches the famous Chappel Viaduct from the direction of Colchester.

The organ was originally built around 1840 for Springfield Road Methodist Church in Chelmsford, which closed in the 1890s.

In 1903 it was installed in Coggeshall Methodist Church but in 1989 the three non-conformist churches in Coggeshall – Methodist, United Reformed and Baptist – merged to form Christ Church and so the then redundant organ was installed at Chappel United Reformed Church.

It is not know who made the organ but it is hope this may be discovered when it is stripped down during the restoration.

An Historic Organ Certificate has been awarded by the British Institute of Organ Studies which states the instrument is “an important historic pipe organ of importance to the national heritage and one deserving careful preservation for the benefit of future generations.”

The appeal to raise £10,000 towards the restoration was launched at an Organ Recital to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the organ’s installation at Chappel. It has got off to an excellent start, with £3,500 already raised.

Patrons of the appeal are Sir Bob Russell, Colchester's High Stewart and councillor Nigel Chapman (Con, Rural North), who successful led the Friends of Colchester Moot Hall Organ in the group's bid to restore the town hall organ.

A cake was symbolically cut to launch the appeal by Reverend Ken Forbes who leads the church.

The recital was given by James Davy who is in his seventh year as organist and Master of Choristers at Chelmsford Cathedral. He performed eight pieces to a packed out church of 60 people.

Anthony Percival is the organist and secretary of the church who came up with the idea for the appeal.

Donations can be made via cheque, payable to the Chappel United Reformed Church, to treasurer Valerie Dent at Watch House Cottage, Station Road, Wakes Colne CO6 3DJ, or to Mr Percival at Peace Villa, 8 Colchester Road, Chappel CO6 2DE.