All Saint’s Anglican Church, Murwillumbah

This organ was built in 1926 by C. W. Leggo of Sydney with pneumatic action in the picturesque cane town of Murwillumbah, N.S.W. This organ had been moved from the original wooden church and electrified by H. W. Jarrott.  In 1998, Simon Pierce restored the organ. Restoration consisted of removing the internal pull-down magnets, and making new electro-pneumatic underaction with large pull-down motors, similar to that used previously.  All components were restored and the wind pressure returned to the original settings.  The pipework was cleaned and regulated.  With the new wind pressure and responsive action, the organ tone became warm and full, which was very effective in this large building.

Specifications:
GREAT                                                 PEDAL

16′        Bourdon                                32′        Harmonic Bass
8′        Open Diapason                      16′        Bourdon
8′        Dulciana                                 16′        Echo Bourdon (from Great)
8′        Clarabella 8′                           Principal (from Great)
4′        Principal                                   4′        Fifteenth (from Principal 8)
4′        Harmonic Flute
2′        Fifteenth                                  Usual couplers
TremulantPEDAL
SWELL

8′        Violin Diapason                        32′    Acoustic Bass
8′        Lieblich Gedact                        16′    Open Wood
8′        Salicional                                  16′    Bourdon
8′        Vox Celeste                               8′    Principal
4′        Gemshorn                                  8′    Bass Flute
8′        Cornopean
8′        Oboe
Swell Octave
Swell Sub
Tremulant

Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Swell to Great
Swell Sub
Swell Unison Off
Swell Super
Swell Super to Great
Swell Sub to Great
Great Super

Compass 61/30

St Andrew’s Anglican Church, Lismore

This tubular-pneumatic action instrument was installed by the British Pianoforte Depot Ltd. in 1914.  The English pipework and German mechanical components remained intact until rebuilds in 1957 and the early 1960’s.  General deterioration of the instrument saw the need for a proper restoration in the 1990’s, and, with the consultant Kelvin Hastie’s concurrence, our proposal for a conservative restoration (with the judicious replacement of some later-added stops) was accepted in 1994.  This process was carried out in two stages:

  1. Restoration of the bellows and trunking, replacement of blower motor, replacement of all puffers. The Great soundboard was moved forward on the standframe to allow it to project more effectively from the chamber into the nave.
  2. Restoration of soundboards, replacement of worn parts, cleaning of all pipes, repacking, regulation etc. A new Harmonic Flute 4′ was added to the Great and a Violin Diapason 8′ and Bourdon 16′ on the Swell (which were replaced in the 1957 rebuild).  All these stops were obtained from pipework out of the redundant 1881 Forster & Andrews Sydney University organ. The console was refurbished with replacement Stop Discs done in the original lettering style.

Specifications:
GREAT                                            PEDAL

8′     Open Diapason                         16′    Major Bass
8′     Stopped Diapason                    16′    Sub Bass
8′     Dulciana                                     8′    Bass Flute
4′     Principal                                    Tremulant
4′     Harmonic Flute                          Swell to Great
Swell to Pedal
2′     Fifteenth                                    Great to Pedal
Mixture IV ranks                               Compass 58/30
SWELL

16′     Bourdon
8′     Violin Diapason
8′     Salicional
8′     Lieblich Gedackt
8′     Celeste
4′     Salicet
2′     Principal
8′     Cornopean
8′     Oboe
Swell Octave Coupler

Tubular-pneumatic action
Three combination pistons to Great
Three Combination pistons to Swell
Electric blower.
British Pianoforte Depot.

St Paul’s Anglican Church, Ipswich

The J.W.Walker organ was first installed on the floor of the southern (liturgical northern) transept in 1860. It was shifted to a new gallery in the opposite transept in 1974. While the original cone-pallet chests were retained, the action was electrified, the Pedalboard enlarged, and a new Choir Organ added, with the resulting specification:

GREAT                                    CHOIR

16′    Bourdon                            8′     Lieblich Gedackt(orig.Great)
8′     Open Diapason                  8′     Dulciana (orig.Great)
8′     Violin Diapason                 4′     Koppel Flute
8′     Stopped Diapason             2′     Recorder
4′     Principal                            8′     Vox Humana
4′     Chimney Flute                   8′     Oboe Schalmei
2 2/3′ Twelfth                            8′     Tuba(unenclosed)
2′     Fifteenth
II     Mixture (19.22)
8′     Trompette  SWELL           PEDAL
8′     Horn Diapason
8′     Lieblich Gedackt              16′    Open Wood
8′     Salicional                         16′    Bourdon
8′     Voix Celeste                     16′    Echo Bourdon(from Great)
4′     Gemshorn                         8′     Bass Flute
4′     Suabe Flute                      8′     Violin Cello
2′     Piccolo                             4′     Octave Flute
III    Mixture (22.26.29)            4′     Schalmei
8′     Oboe
8′     Cornopean
4′     Clarion


ACCESSORIES
Swell Tremulant
Swell Sub Octave
Swell Super Octave
Swell to Great
Swell to Great Sub
Swell to Great Super
Swell to Pedal
Swell to Choir
Great to Pedal
Choir to Great
Choir to Pedal
Choir Sub Octave
Choir Super Octave
Tremulants to Swell and Choir
Great to Pedal Combinations Coupled

Combination Pistons (preset)

Great: 4 pistons
Swell: 4 pistons
Pedal: 4 pistons
Choir: 3 pistons

GREAT (new slider soundboards)

16′    Bourdon
8′     Open Diapason
8′     Violin Diapason
8′     Stopt Diapason
4′     Principal
4′     Chimney Flute
2 2/3′ Twelfth
2′     Fifteenth
1 3/5′ Seventeenth
III    Mixture
8′     Trumpet

GREAT

16′ Bourdon 8′ Open Diapason 8′ Violin Diapason 8′ Stopped Diapason 4′ Principal 4′ Chimney Flute 2 2/3′ Twelfth 2′ Fifteenth II Mixture (19.22) 8′ Trompette SWELL 8′ Horn Diapason 8′ Lieblich Gedackt 8′ Salicional 8′ Voix Celeste 4′ Gemshorn 4′ Suabe Flute 2′ Piccolo III Mixture (22.26.29) 8′ Oboe 8′ Cornopean 4′ Clarion CHOIR 8′ Lieblich Gedackt(orig.Great) 8′ Dulciana (orig.Great) 4′ Koppel Flute 2′ Recorder 8′ Vox Humana 8′ Oboe Schalmei 8′ Tuba(unenclosed) PEDAL 16′ Open Wood 16′ Bourdon 16′ Echo Bourdon(from Great) 8′ Bass Flute 8′ Violin Cello 4′ Octave Flute 4′ Schalmei ACCESSORIES Swell Tremulant Swell Sub Octave Swell Super Octave Swell to Great Swell to Great Sub Swell to Great Super Swell to Pedal Swell to Choir Great to Pedal Choir to Great Choir to Pedal Choir Sub Octave Choir Super Octave Tremulants to Swell and Choir Great to Pedal Combinations Coupled

Combination Pistons (preset)

Great: 4 pistons Swell: 4 pistons Pedal: 4 pistons Choir: 3 pistons

Surface Hill Uniting Church, Gympie

This organ was built by George Benson for the home of James Lord, who was organist at Wesley Methodist Church, Brisbane.  At the same time, Benson also built the large 3-manual instument for that church.  After the death of Lord’s wife and only son in the sinking of the S.S. Quetta, the house organ was offered for sale and installed in its present site some time in 1890.

The organ was restored by Simon in 1989. It was in a very tired state. It used to cypher with any change of weather and the the tuning was erratic. It required a simple and careful restoration. The result brought the organ alive again. This is a delightful organ whose small belies the volume and tone that it produces. The specification is versatile and the action responsive.

Specifications:
GREAT                                 PEDAL

8′    Open Diapason               16′    Bourdon
8′    Salicional
4′    Principal                         Swell to Great
4′    Wald Flute                     Great to Pedal

Swell to Pedal
SWELL

8′    Open Diapason
8′    Lieblich Gedact
4′    Gemshorn
8′    Oboe

Tremulant

St Luke’s Anglican Church,Toowoomba

Although the Norwich firm of Norman and Beard was founded in 1868, their first Australian order was not delivered until 1894. The installation of the organ in Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, Newcastle, sparked a spate of orders throughout Australasia; nevertheless, only St. Luke’s in Toowoomba, and St. John’s Anglican Cathedral remain as Queensland examples.

In 1907, the organ was delivered to local builders Whitehouse Bros. for installation in the unfinished St. Luke’s church within the first bay of the Nave pillars, where it remained until the extension of the Sanctuary and Transepts.  It was then sited on a platform above the Choir, at which time (in 1960) the action was electrified and opportunity taken to provide extra pedal stops by extension (Acoustic Bass and Quint.)

The rebuild by WJ Simon Pierce in 1995 included replacement of all worn parts, resealing of all windchests and ducting, as well as the relocation of the errant Pedal pipes which had been placed behind the Sanctuary arch.

The Trumpet stop was given by the late Dora Jackson, a longtime resident of Toowoomba.

Specifications:
GREAT                                         PEDAL

8′    Open Diapason No.1              32′    Acoustic Bass
8′    Open Diapason No.2              16′    Open Wood
8′    Clarabella                              16′    Bourdon
8′    Dulciana                                   8′    Principal
4′    Principal                                   8′    Bass Flute
4′    Harmonic Flute
8′    Trumpet                               Tremulant
8′    Clarinet
SWELL

16′    Bourdon                            Great to Pedal
8′    Geigen Diapason                 Swell to Great
8′    Lieblich Gedact                   Swell Sub
8′    Salicional                            Swell Unison Off
8′    Voix Celeste                       Swell Super
4′    Gemshorn                           Swell Super to Great
III   Mixture                               Swell Sub to Great
8′    Cornopean                         Great Super
8′    Oboe
3 thumb pistons for each manual, as well as a General Cancel and a Full Organ (this latter also available from a toe piston).
Reversible toe pistons for Great to Pedal, Swell to Pedal and Swell to Great couplers.

St Mary’s Catholic Church, Maryborough

This excellent example of tracker action organ building was built and installed by B.B.Whitehouse & Co. in 1910.  In 1936 the church was extended southwards by turning the nave around 180 degrees and adding a large Romanesque crossing with north and south transepts, the altar being relocated to the southern wall of the building.  The organ was installed in the south transept but spoke towards the altar and hence away from the congregation. The rebuild by Simon Pierce in 1991 included turning the whole instrument to speak across the nave, thus supporting congregational singing more directly.  At this time, a Trumpet stop was installed in the prepared slide on the Great. The scaling of the Trumpet was taken from the 1915 B. B. Whitehouse organ in St Mary’s, Ipswich.

During 2000, the building was treated for a termite infestation, after which cleaning of the instrument became necessary and was undertaken by the firm in October.

Specifications
GREAT

 8'    Open Diapason  	
 8'    Dulciana 	
 8'    Clarabella 
 4'    Principal 	 
 4'    Flute 		 
 2'    Fifteenth 	 
 8'    Trumpet 	 

SWELL

16'    Bourdon 	
 8'    Open Diapason 	
 8'    Stopped Diapason
 8'    Salicional 	
 8'    Vox Celeste 	
 4'    Gemshorn 	
 2'    Piccolo 	
 8'    Cornopean 	
 8'    Oboe 		


Swell Octave
Swell Sub

St. George’s Anglican Church, Mount Tamborine

This organ was built as a memorial to Christopher Fulcher by his family.  It was originally designed for the small wooden church which is now the hall and was built in stages over 6 years. The present delightful church was built in between times and the organ was installed just after the church’s completion.

It is a complete single-manual organ, employing simplicity to encourage its use by reluctant organists. The organ’s concept is based on English 1850’s scaling and soundboard design – that of William Hill. The suspended action and modern pallets give a light, responsive touch despite the very sudden climatic changes that can occur on the mountain.  This alteration to ethos does not detract from the overall concept.  The idea of building the organ in stages enabled the family to contemplate the project without financial strain, but is only possible when the total project is conceived as a whole.

This is the underside of one of the soundboards showing the palletbox. The soundboard has been built in the traditional English manner with “tosh” or calico covering the rear of the bars. There are two soundboards, one for the C-side and another for the C#-side, a typical setout for early large Hill soundboards.

This picture shows the standframe of the organ and the large rollerboard. The solid ebony stop knobs can be seen and the trackers that will lead to the soundboards are bunched together on the rollerboard. The suspended action makes the large rollerboard necessary.

The soundboards are now fitted to the standframe with the stop action and key action connected. The front case is now being fitted around the action. This type of design is different from modern European practice where the case is also the standframe of the organ. As the concept of this organ is based on English 1850’s style, so too is the design. The double-rise bellows are yet to be fitted. The casework is made from Tasmanian oak and is french polished.

Here the organ is starting to take shape. The pipes have been installed on the soundboard and it is playable. The pedalboard has been fitted. This pedalboard came secondhand (!) from the organ in St John’s Cathedral where Christopher Fulcher sang as a chorister. The possums on the casework are visible. There is a large window above the organ through which the unique rainforest of this area can be clearly seen, hence the possums look as if they have just come down from the canopy to have a listen.

A budding organist plays the new instrument. The builder’s son, Lachlan, gives helpful advice on key depth and touch whilst the consultant looks on…

This organ has now been completed to its original specification, the Mixture pipes being added through late 2000.  A recital by Michael Fulcher on December 23, 2000, provided a stirring conclusion to a long and drawn-out but very interesting process of building by gradual accretion!

St Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church, Red Hill

he Church of St Brigid’s stands as a sentinel on Red Hill over the City of Brisbane. From one side of the choir loft the whole vista of the ranges from Mount Coot-tha towards Cunningham’s Gap spreads before the eyes. On the other side, the busy modern buildings of Brisbane and the blue of Morton Bay mingle and the noise of restless activity assails the ears.

Inside, the quietness and the space of the church are a pleasing contrast. The acoustic is one of the best in Brisbane. The red brick structure was designed by Robin Dodds and was opened in 9th of August, 1914. The organ case was also designed by Dodds and sits in the back of the choir loft brooding under three narrow windows.

This pneumatic action organ is one of the most important that Whitehouse ever built. Together with the mechanical action 1910 Whitehouse in St Mary’ Church, Maryborough and the later pneumatic action organ in St Mary’s, Ipswich, they represent the high point of Whitehouse’s craft and vision. Whilst not large in the number of stops, none the less, all organs fill their homes with full and rich sounds more than comparable with the work of English builders of the same era.

Having restored Maryborough some ten years ago and having worked in stages on Ipswich, it was an opportunity to work in Brisbane with a sound knowledge of the methods and techniques that Whitehouse used. The organ had had two lots of work carried out on it over the last 30 years but the action was still sluggish and irregular, the pipework cyphered in the Westerly winds and the cone-tuned pipework was not in the best of conditions. The structure was still in remarkably original condition except for the loss of the Crescendo Pedal and mechanism some years before. It was time to systematically work through the whole organ and the organist, Roland Bartkowiak, started the initial process of convincing the parish to carry out the work..

Our approach was quite simple: to renew all the leather working parts of the organ and clean the pipework. The bellows had already been releathered but the gussets, corner pieces and butterflies needed releathering. This also meant replacin g all the puffers and cones of the cone-pallet soundboards, replacing the bedding and renewing the bedding. The pipework needed cleaning and any damage should be repaired. The pipework could then be regulated as well as the action.

This, then, was the simple task we had in front of us.  The reality was somewhat different.

Restoration is an interesting term. It implies just renewing and cleaning what is already in existence. The organ was already regarded as a ‘masterpiece’ and it was important not to gild the lily. But, as we progressed we found we had to make decisions.

The inside of the soundboards were strewn with pencil marks as the builders had changed the position of the cones. Plugs of wood were profuse. The borings in the soundboards were very poor and looked like they had been done with blunt drills. There were chips of wood in many holes that appear to have never been cleared out.

All the soundboards were thoroughly cleaned and the borings re-drilled as necessary and sealed.

Over a third of the pipe feet were smaller than the footholes. In fact, it appeared that all the metal pipework arrived after the soundboards were made and over the time the feet of the principals and strings had sunk into the holes (with the cone tuning) and the footholes had, thus, closed up.

As we tested the completed soundboards in the workshop, we found that cyphers were still occurring. Closer examination showed that that the original tips of the borings of the upperboards had carried through out the other side of three of the upperboards. They looked like knotholes but were holes that caused cyphers. These were plugged and sealed. As well, on these soundboards the bedding was glued onto the bars. Later Whitehouse practice was to glue the bedding on the upperboards and then brown paper was then glued onto the top face of the bars. This allowed any warping in the upperboards not to cause cyphers whilst still allowing easy access to the cones. Given the past service history of the organ, we carried out this modification.

The bottom octave of the Swell reeds had never fitted in the space provided. Any damage had occurred from ‘day one’ and by placing Bottom C of the Cornopean on an off-note block this problem was cured.

The access to the organ was appalling. It is a particularly compact design, which is surprising for such a large gallery. The access to the passageboard is very tight, however we improved access to the rear of the console by making the front lower casework panels removable with only four brass screws. The internal organ frame was also very flimsy and leaned to one side. It had obviously moved very early in the organ’s life. The whole structure was straightened and fixed permanently to the back wall.

It is possible to draw some conclusions from this work. The firm had used cone-pallet soundboards in small instruments as early as 1910 (at Nundah Methodist) but Red Hill seems to have been the first large instrument to employ them. They solved many problems ‘on the run’. I also suspect that the work was rushed and the pipework only arrived from England after the major part of the organ was built. These problems were not evident in the later organ at Ipswich.

Tonally, we worked carefully on the organ. The idea was to preserve and maintain. We did not want to fit any slides to the pipework but over the years it had collapsed at the mouths and, in some cases, the tops had been ripped for tuning. The pipework was cleaned and repaired, and it was only necessary to fit slides to the Fifteenth 2′, the Piccolo 2′, the top octave of the 4′ Gemshorn and the Principal 4′.

As we worked through the regulation, two major things became obvious. The flutes had a very annoying splutter at the beginning of their speech which did not want to come out with the usual treatments. As well, all the reed tongues had to be very flat to speak promptly and as a result did not develop good tone. The obvious place was to check the bellows which appeared to have too low a wind pressure. It was nicely fitted with Whitehouse weights at 3 1/8″ w.g.. We found no other spare weights around the loft but tried raising the wind pressure to see what happened.

We found that 3 ¾” was the magic pressure, the flutes lost their splutter and the reeds could have their tongue curve increased with a pleasing fire being added. The strings developed a more intense character and the Great Open and Principal had more warmth. The action also was just a little crisper. Obviously, I do not want a reputation for fiddling with wind pressures on important historical organs but 3 ¾” is quite a common wind pressure for the era and the pipes really wanted the increase. I can only assume that the cyphers that had plagued the organ may have been lessened with a lower wind pressure. I was also interested to hear some observations from John Hopsick whose mother had been the organist at St Brigid’s from the 1920’s. He remembers the sound of the Great Trumpet as being far stronger in the 1940’s and was pleased to hear that strength back again with the increased pressure.

The organ had taken 7 months to restore with it being in continuous service during that time.

I went back today to take some more pictures of the organ and to listen to the sounds afresh. I am always astounded how the organ tone improves as the organ settles in. I have made some comments earlier about the problems we found in the organ. I believe, however, that in this case Whitehouse got the basics right. This organ does have a vision. The action is as crisp and responsive as could be desired and vindicates the restoration of the pneumatic action. In this case it is certainly preferable to electric action.

The Great Diapason is quite unlike any other Whitehouse Diapason. It is mellow and warm but possesses a tremendous presence in the building. The Principal 4′ is quite a deal smaller in scaling but has a bite that blends into the Diapason very nicely. Likewise the Fifteenth 2′ blends in well without being too strong. It is also delightful with the Stopped Diapason and does not scream with the Great Octave coupler.

The Swell is not so easy to judge at the console but the sound is slightly less powerful than the Great but with more string tone. The Double Diapason 16′ purrs underneath even with the reeds and octave couplers on. The strings are just gorgeous. The Pedal Bourdon 16′ is not a loud stop but seems to permeate and give the pedal focus. However, it is the Great Trumpet which is still to my mind the really amazing stop. It does cut through the Great chorus with a fiery breath and yet it is the flue work that predominates when the Great Octave coupler is added. Like all good organs, there are a variety of moods and colours available if the organist blends with imagination. It is a remarkable achievement for Whitehouse to make such a small organ fill such a large building with such good sound. At no stage do you feel that you need more stops. True, you might like to have them but this organ has a satisfying whole and unity about it which is as much a pleasure for the organbuilder as well as the organist.

Specifications:
GREAT

8′     Open Diapason
8′     Stopt Diapason
8′     Dulciana
4′     Principal
4′     Harmonic Flute
2′     Fifteenth
8′     Trumpet
Great OctaveSWELL
16′    Double Diapason
8′    Open Diapason
8′    Lieblich Gedact
8′    Salicional
8′    Vox Angelica
4′    Gemshorn
2′    Piccolo
8′    Oboe
8′    Cornopean
Super Octave
Swell Sub OctavePEDAL
16′    Bourdon
Pedal Octave

Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Woolloongabba

This organ was built for Holy Trinity by Whitehouse Bros. in 1930 in this magnificent building. Reginald Halse was the Anglican Archbishop of the day and he had brought back two designs from a holiday in Southern Italy. The other design was used for Holy Trinity, Mackay. The Stopped Diapason and 4′ Flute were added in 1954. In 1986, David Hudd replaced the Great Dulciana with a Principal 4′.

The organ is small in size for the building and with the restoration of the church, it was decided to restore the organ also and see if it could project better into the building from its chamber. Simon decided to position the organ better and to rescale several stops to match the building. The front case was rebuilt and moved out around the console and lifted. The soundboards were then moved forward. All the pneumatic action was thoroughly restored. The Swell Flutes were rescaled by 2 notes upwards and a new stronger Stopped Diapason was made. The wind pressure was raised and the cut-ups on the principals were accordingly raised. This pipe organ now has an excellent, responsive action and the warm and full sound adequately fills the building without being harsh. This little organ is a good essay in how pipe organs do not need to be large in order to carry out their work and still remain highly musical.

Specification:
GREAT                                       PEDAL

8′ Open Diapason                         16′ Bourdon
8′ Stopped Diapason

4′ Principal                                    Great to Pedal
4′ Flute (fr Swell)                           Swell to Pedal
Swell to Great
SWELL Swell Super to Great
Pneumatic Action
8′ Violin Diapason                         Compass  61/30
8′ Gedact
4′ Flute
8′ Oboe

Wesley Uniting Church Kangaroo Point

This charming organ was built in c. 1903 by B. B. Whitehouse & Co. It has mechanical action using backfalls. The church is a fine brick building two blocks from the Gabba cricket ground. The two manuals are on a common slider soundboard. The 4′ Principal and 2′ Piccolo were ‘prepared for’ with the stop knobs and footholes drilled. In 1953 Whitehouse had overhauled the organ.

By 1989, the organ was in in a very dirty and worn state. The action was noisy and the pedals were unreliable. The bellows had been cut-down to single-rise. The Church decided to restore the organ and Simon Pierce was awarded the contract. The bellows were recovered as double-rise. The Principal and Piccolo pipework was made and installed. As well as totally refurbishing the action and cleaning the pipework, the showfront pipes were re-stencilled to the the original designs.

This organ is a fine example of a small mechanical-action organ with plenty of character and a bright and full chorus.

Specifications:
GREAT

8′    Open Diapason
8′    Clarabella
8′    Dulciana
4′    Principal
4′    Wald Flute
2′    Piccolo

SWELL

8′    Open Diapason
8′    Lieblich Gedackt
8′    Salicional
8′    Voix Celeste
4′    Gemshorn
8′    Oboe

Swell Octave
PEDAL

16′   Bourdon
Mechanical action and couplers Compass 58/3