IT WAS a project that took three years and a staggering $700,000-plus to complete, but to an audience of 360 at St Paul's Anglican Church that heard it "thunder" on Friday, it was well worth it.
The sound of two and a half thousand pipes once again filled the historic church in central Ipswich and helped launch the Ipswich Festival with a concert to showcase the pipe organ at its full capacity - Let the Organ Thunder.
Built in 1859, the St Paul's organ is the oldest pipe organ in a church or public building in Queensland.
In the presence of Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane Phillip Aspinall, the rebuilt organ was presented to the parish on Friday with a dedication and blessing rite and a concert.
The organ was built by JW Walker in London and installed at St Paul's a year later.
It is a true piece of history and now, thanks to the tireless work of the St Paul's Organ Committee, its chairman Grantley Chaplin and the Jani Haenke Charitable Trust, the organ has been restored with all 2500 pipes housed in a new Tasmanian oak frame.
It had been in two parts with the pipes up in the church loft and the keyboard below.
"There were parts of it that had ceased to work. It had deteriorated over the years and maintenance had become a big issue. It was a situation of patch-up or rebuild," Dr Chaplin said.
The rebuild was undertaken by organ builder Simon Pierce, who recently restored the pipe organ at Brisbane City Hall.
The new organ recycles some of the original, 1860s pipes, as well as a set of bellows and some other pipes from 1923. The remaining 75% is new.
Dr Chaplin said the organ would be a significant benefit to the Ipswich community, not only for worship but also for the wider community.
"Pipe organs are regarded as the king of instruments and organ music within a worship context or an entertainment context is very exciting, very powerful," he said.