A project to preserve important aspects of Parkeston’s history is nearing completion at Harwich’s Redoubt Fort.
When Parkeston’s St Paul’s church closed in 2014 the fate of the historic organ and the rolls of honour from World Wars I and II were uncertain. Consideration was being given to dismantling the organ for spare parts but, fortunately, the Harwich Society was approached and the historic items were given a new home in Harwich’s Redoubt Fort.
Harwich Society Redoubt Fort Group leader, Dan Beck, says, “From the beginning it was clear that this was a major project as the organ had to be dismantled, all of the parts photographed and catalogued, and a room at the Redoubt Fort needed to be totally renovated before reconstruction could begin. It has been painstaking work but it was worth it all when we heard the sound of the organ for the first time in its new home.”
The organ is of great historic significance as it is a memorial to all of those who lost their lives in the shipping disaster that saw the loss of the Parkeston based passenger ferry, SS Berlin, as she attempted to enter the Hook of Holland during a storm on 21st February 1907. 128 souls were lost making it the worst shipping disaster experienced by the Great Eastern Railway Company. The organ was built in 1912 as a memorial to this disaster and was originally installed in Parkeston’s St Gabriel’s church before being moved to St Paul’s on its completion in 1914.
Harwich Society vice chair and archivist, David Whittle, says, “The organ and rolls of honour are key to the history of Parkeston and it would have been a great loss if a new home had not been found. Nonetheless, it was a major undertaking to save them and Dan Beck is to be congratulated for this incredible achievement.”
Once the pandemic is at an end and the Redoubt Fort is open to the public, it is intended that events will be held so that the organ may be heard and David Whittle will give an illustrated talk on the story of the SS Berlin.
Chairman of the Harwich Society, Colin Farnell, says, “Everyone who has played a part in this project should be congratulated on a fantastic achievement. The dedication and level of precision necessary to dismantle, repair and rebuild this historic organ was truly amazing and that only became possible after the complete renovation of the room to make it suitable for the installation. Our volunteers have worked wonders.”
For further information please contact
Dan Beck on 07801 661922
David Whittle on 01255 506183
Garry Calver on 01255 551940