IT HAS been a treasured part of a Hampshire church for almost half a century and was once admired by some of the world’s leading figures.

But St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Sholing will be losing a piece of its history as its much-loved organ finds a new home.

The church in Butts Road has had the 163-year-old musical relic for 45 years, but it has been unused for the last seven years.

So the church has decided to pass it on as they believe it is unsuited for the building and would rather see it in a more historic setting.

Now the instrument will be refurbished by Griffiths and Cooper Organ Builders and then given to Church of the Holy Cross, Brentwood, Essex.

The organ used to be a regular feature at St Andrew’s Church, but many of the congregation are not aware that it was once on show at the Great Exhibition in 1851.

Originally constructed by Joseph William Walker, who made it especially for the exhibition, it was viewed by the likes of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in Crystal Palace.

After that it was sold to James H Wolff, of Bevois Mount, Southampton, for £350, and then it was passed to Kingsfield Church in Havelock Road.

After that it went to Sholing Primitive Methodists Chapel in South East Road, before going to St Andrew’s Methodist Church in 1969.

St Andrew’s Church Minister, Paul Woodman, said: “The organ has an incredible sound. I am sad to see it go but it is always good for the church to have a new chapter.”

Jim Brown who is a keen historian and has been a member of the church for decades, added: “I have heard it played hundreds of times and I really did not think it would be working today.

“Hearing it has brought back tremendous memories, the sound is still fantastic. It is a real church organ which you do not see a lot of these days.”