£3m church conversion project ends on a high note

Developer converting former Merseyside Victorian church into a £3m apartments complex restores 130-year-old organ which will now have pride of place at the entrance to the building. Tony McDonough reports

St John's Church
Restored organ at the converted St John’s Church in Waterloo


EW Developments has overseen the restoration of a 130-year old organ that will now take pride of place in a £3m conversion of a church into apartments.

St John’s Church in Waterloo was built in 1865 on the island at the end of St John’s Road. In 2006 the church was closed with the congregation moving into a new church nearby in Picton Road.

In August 2023 EW started work converting the Grade II-listed church into 10 apartments and it is due to finish this month.

Last year the firm also completed work on a similar project, Our Lady of Good Help in Wavertree, which is now home to 16 apartments. It has also transformed a Victorian building in Kirkdale into the Phoenix Hotel.

It has committed to retaining the original features of St John’s, including the stained glass windows, the pulpit and organ. EW brought in specialist firm David Wells Organ Builders, founded in Liverpool, to completely dismantle the original organ.

Taking four weeks, its experts provided a complete refurbishment of the remaining organ case, pipes and console before reinstalling the instrument in a new area of the building. 

Nigel Huntington of David Wells Organ Builders, said: “We were very pleased to work in conjunction with EW Developments to restore what remained of the 1894 Abbot and Smith organ.


St John's Church
EW brought in David Wells Organ Builders on the project
EW Developments
EW Developments is converting St John’s Church in Waterloo into apartments


“The development of the listed building and the relocation of the organ has returned a derelict and vandalised building and organ to a stunning residential conversion and safeguarded both a historic building and beautiful instrument.”

EW Developments is co-owned by James Winters, founder of engineering firm M-Tech, and Rob Edwards, architect and founder of R+R Design.

James added: “The organ will frame the entrance to the building perfectly and Rob and I are so pleased to keep so many original features.

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“The stained glass windows are damaged in places, which we are in the process of repairing sympathetically, while the pulpit is also being refurbished and remaining in place.

“The 10 finished apartments will be a brilliant blend of history, modernity and luxury and will breathe fresh life and memories into the area.”

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