IT has fans from Holland, America and Germany and began life bringing music to the ears of a Welsh congregation in the 19th century.

But 150 years on after a successful restoration, the historic pipe organ at St Mary's Priory Church, Usk is still going strong, and to celebrate the landmark, a number of concerts are on the calendar.

The first of these, this month, welcomed San Diego organist Dr Carol Williams, who took her seat to play the original instrument, thought to be the only one in Britain which has horizontal pipes.

Made by Gray & Davidson, the organ began life in Llandaf Cathedral, until an Usk man bought it for his local church in 1899.

The present organist, Gareth Williams, said out of the three spectacular organs the company made at the time, Usk's is more unusual.

He said: "The builders were notable back in the 19th century. The pinnacle of their building career was one in a London church and the other went to the Buckingham Palace ballroom."

"But the Usk one is different as it has pipes not just standing upwards but horizontal, it was quite unusual for Victorian days," he said.

Mr Williams, 72, has played many a hymn to the congregation of around 60 people.

But in 2006, this was halted for a short time whilst the organ underwent restoration by a firm from Malvern, Worcestershire.

He said: "It was working but it was very hard work. It was all taken to bits, cleaned and some of the parts renewed, some parts adapted and re-used."

"There are so many different actions for mechanical organs and they are done by rods and cables. Most are now electric."

What was Llandaf Cathedral's loss was Usk's gain, as the organ settled in well to its new home in Gwent.

While it was replaced by a bigger one in its previous place of worship, the congregation were pleased to hear it hit the right notes here.

Mr Williams said he still enjoys playing it and so do many others.

"It is just a unique sound and I have kept a visitors book since the restoration. We have had people from America and Germany- the organ is that well-known, everybody knows about it."

"In November, I had a bus load of people from Holland who had come just to play it," he recalled.

The next concert, on April 29, welcomes organist Gordon Stewart, who has played all over the world.