A LAKE District engineer has spent more than eight months restoring a 19th century church organ that has remained silent for years.

Roger Mallinson has worked on the instrument in St Luke's Church, Torver, near Coniston, almost every day since August - and it is about to be played in front of an audience for the first time in decades.

"I'm really pleased with it," said Mr Mallinson, of Windermere. "The important thing now is to keep it going."

The 77-year-old spotted the organ at the funeral of Arthur Ransome's cousin Dick in January 2014 when he also noticed a backing track was being used to accompany hymns.

After mistakenly thinking the pipes were in 'good nick', he found on closer inspection that it was 'far worse' than he could ever have imagined.

"It had suffered from being wet, the wood had swollen, the Scotch glue that was used had disappeared after getting wet and the moths had been in," he said.

Having already built a small pipe organ of his own and with the added experience of restoring the organ at Ambleside Lodge, Mr Mallinson embarked on what materialised as a 'massive job' with the help of a few extra hands.

Following months of repairing the musical instrument, the steam engine preservationist moved onto the pedals after Christmas.

"As far as we know the pedals had never been used since before 1899," said self-taught Mr Mallinson who credits his organ playing skills to his late ginger tom cat Mr Moses. He said Mr Moses would 'bat' him if he made any mistakes.

And with a new lease of life in the old set of pipes, the rural church has even attracted a new resident organist much to the delight of the Rev Tim Harmer.

"I came here in September 2013 and it was unplayable so it's great to have a live organ," said Mr Harmer. "It's not a big church so the sound really fills it and though it takes some getting used to, it certainly lifts worship and keeps us in tune."

A recital by Claire Alsop, organist at Bristol's St Mary Redcliffe Church, will take place at the church on Sunday (April 26) at 6pm.