BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – NESTLED within a specific spot of the St. George’s Anglican Church is a 143-year old fully-functional pipe organ which was constructed by Henry Booth in 1871 and shipped and assembled in St. Kitts in the following year.
It was a historic moment yesterday (Feb. 26) when his granddaughter Penelope Clarke visited the island to view the craftsmanship of her grandfather and the pristine condition in which it has been kept for more than a century.
Clarke arrived on the island via cruise vessel and a brief ceremony was held at the Church where tourism officials, National Archive officials and others gathered for the memorable occasion.
Cosbert Manchester, Executive Director of the St. Christopher National Trust, said the pipe organ is the only remaining one on the island and it was built by the firm Booth of Wakefield in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England. The company was founded by Henry Booth’s grandfather Joseph Booth.
Henry Booth arrived in St. Kitts in January of 1872 and when the crates which held the many parts of the disassembled pipe organ had arrived, he spent close to six months unpacking, repairing (as many parts had been exposed to the sea), assembling and commissioning the instrument.
He said over the past 130 years, the organ has had to undergo some overhauling and changes.
During the ceremony, a composition crafter by Clarke’s father, Henry Booth’s son, Lionel Booth, was played on the pipe organ by youngster Christian Nathaniel who skillfully manipulated the stops and foot pedals as piece required.
Clarke, who sat nearby the pipe organ as her father’s rendition was being played, had an obvious expression of emotion written across her face.
In giving remarks, she said the joy she felt from hearing her father’s rendition played on the pipe organ constructed by her grandfather is immeasurable.
She read clips from her grandfather’s writings in which he spoke of his journey to St. Kitts, the difficulties he had in restoring the damaged pieces of the organ and assembly of the organ.
She offered congratulations for the good upkeep of the antique and gave a donation, which was received by Arch Deacon Valentine Hodge for its continued maintenance. Clarke also gave the letters from which she read, to him for the benefit of the National Archive.
Arch Deacon Hodge presented Clarke with two gifts before the ceremony concluded, which she expressed gratitude for.