Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Rediscovering the past

As part of the ongoing work to chronicle the history of the Cathedral, this photograph was recently discovered. It shows the west end of the church, probably in the 1920s or 1930s. A small porch surrounds the west doors, before the building of the present (sadly, less attractive) narthex. The organ console is shown in its original position, facing west, before it was moved to the north side of the choir loft in the 1970s. During the current restoration work, the console is at the Willis and Sons workshop in Liverpool, but the plan is to restore it to the position seen in this photograph.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Get here if you can

Sunday, of course, usually sees more people through the Cathedral doors than any other day of the week. Today parishioners and visitors have had to negotiate their way through a variety of roadworks. St Peter's road, which runs past the west front of the Cathedral, is closed due to mains electricity renewal work...

...East Road, to the north of the Cathedral, is down to one lane...

... and below, Balmoral Road, running between Cathedral House and the Social Centre, is closed due to gas works. Presumably someone is ensuring that gas work and electrical work don't meet in the middle!

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Texan Ambassador

Today is the last full day at the Cathedral for Nolan Lowry, a seminarian (trainee priest) from the Diocese of Tyler, Texas. Nolan is studying at the North American College, a stone's throw from St Peter's in Rome, but has spent the last month at our own St Peter's in Lancaster. Having grown up in Texas and spent the last year in Rome, England's endless rain must have come as a bit of a shock to him, although we did manage to take the photo above in a rare moment of summer sunshine yesterday. During his time with us he's been helping in many ways, as well as seeing some of the sights of England. He managed a day trip to Liverpool, a visit to the diocesan shrine at Ladywell and a wet afternoon in the Lake District.

The main excursion was an overnight trip to London, with 24 hours to see all the main sights. Lunch at the Texas Embassy (just off Trafalgar Square) was a must - the name recalls the days when there really was a Texan Embassy in London, before Texas joined the United States in 1845. Texas hasn't had an ambassador to the UK since then, of course, but Nolan has been a great ambassador for the Church in the US during his time with us. Our best wishes and prayers go with him as he returns to Italy tomorrow.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Let's hear it for the silent organ

On Tuesday, after two years of fundraising, work finally began on the restoration of the Cathedral's fine pipe organ. 1886 pipes to be cleaned; a complete overhaul for the console, new bellows (replacing the originals, installed 118 years ago, so overdue for retirement!) and a few other minor improvements... it's a big job, expected to take about four months. The console has been dismantled (see above) and taken away, leaving a great hole where once it stood...

Above, the hole; below, the console on Monday, before the work began:

The work is being carried out by Henry Willis and Sons Ltd, the famous Liverpudlian organ builder. They'll have further information on their website, at http://www.willis-organs.com/. The picture below shows the area where the console was, and the hole left by the removal of the old bellows from the casing behind.

Although at the moment it looks like a scene of destruction, it's wonderful to see so much hard fundraising work beginning to pay off. There's still some money to raise and a few months to raise it. For now, though, there is a sense of achievement: we are cheering the fact that the organ has, temporarily, fallen silent.