St Paul's Anglican Church
Burwood Road, Burwood

Transept organ

[for 1891 William Davidson organ please click here]

B. 1887 E.F. Walcker & Cie, Ludwigsburg, Germany for "Presbyterian Church, Sydney"
1 manual, 2 speaking stops, 1 coupler, pedal pulldowns, tracker & tubular pneumatic Man: 8.8.
Purchased c. 1968 from Misson to Seamen, George Street, Sydney
inst. 1968 Burwood residence, moved 2000 to Glenorie residence
1 manual, 4 speaking stops, 1 coupler, tracker & electric Man: 8.8. Pedal: 16.8
2015 relocated in transept of St Paul's, Burwood, with additions by Mark Fisher
Given to the church in 2015 by the late Peter McMillan, from his Glenorie residence
2 manuals, 12 speaking stops, 3 couplers, electric action

 



[Photo taken from the Blessing of the Organ service booklet cover, 31 May 2015]




The organ case opened for inspection after the dedication of the organ on  31 May 2015
[Photo: Mark Quarmby]




The new console located on the left hand side of the organ
[Photo: Mark Quarmby]

 

A VERY LONG JOURNEY TO A NEW LIFE

THE PETER McMILLAN MEMORIAL ORGAN

By Mark Fisher

(pulbished in the SOJ Winter 2015)

 

The recently completed rebuilt organ, commissioned by Peter James McMillan, prior to his death, for his home at Glenorie has now been installed in its new home at St Paul's Anglican Church, Burwood, in Sydney and takes its place there beside the historic Davidson instrument.

The organ now sits on a new south transcept floor in an ideal position to be heard clearly anywhere in the church. The floor was installed under the direction of heritage architect Paul Davies and is an immense improvement to the previous multi-level flooring.

The little organ is now a new instrument, but with many very historic components. Its front casework and facade are recognisable from its original state but, from there, all else is different and newly crafted. It contains pipework by Walcker, Walker and others.

The reason that I undertook this project was that, in doing so, I could salvage and re-use so much from other early Sydney organs, lost for more than 50 years. The introduction of electric key and stop action throughout was something I was prepared to accept in order to achieve the very historic pallette of this instrument.

E. F. Walcker & Cie of Ludwigsburg, Germany, supplied 11 organs to Australia between 1861 and 1938. Of these, 9 were directed to churches and agents in New South Wales. The firm was founded in Ludwigsburg by Eberhard Fredrich Walcker who was born at Cannstatt in 1794. He learnt the craft of organ building from his father.

Opus 486 was built in 1886 and supplied to the warehouse of W. H. Paling, who was the Sydney agent for Walckers. This organ of one manual and two divided speaking stops, although destined for "Presbyterian Church, Sydney", ended up at the Mission to Seaman Chapel at The Rocks in Sydney. It was purchased c.1968 by Peter McMillan for his residence at Burwood.

By the time that I met the organ, c.1975, it had already had a move to the later McMillan residence in Appian Way, Burwood. The two divided manual stops were loud and quite a challenge for a smallish room. Peter tried, over a number of years, to convince me to rebuild the organ, but because of its provenance and the extreme difficulty of trying to do anything to it whilst retaining the mechanical action, I resisted.

Following yet another move, this time to Glenorie, Peter D G Jewkes was engaged, in 1999, to convert the pedal action from pneumatic to electric and install a second Pedal rank (a large-scaled 8ft Flute ex the Letourneau instrument at St Alban's Epping). The 12 note Bourdon rank had been added to the Pedal on pneumatic action some time prior to 1968.

From around 2005, Peter McMillan again began urging me to consider rebuilding the organ. My current work at that time would not permit any further development along that path until Geoff Bock dismantled his home instrument and offered the windchest and pipework for sale. Peter expressed great interest in this old Hele windchest and, on my recommendations, purchased it. The windchest contained the Swell and Choir divisions from a saloon organ built in 1886 by Messrs Hele & Company, of Plymouth, for Mr R H D White, the well-known Commissioner for Australia, for his residence, Tahlee House, at Port Stephens. The organ remained at Tahlee House long after Robert White's death in 1900.

In 1931 St Philip's Anglican Church at Eastwood purchased the organ and had it installed in 1932 by Charles W Leggo. It was here in 1965 that I first had contact with it, when I went to inspect it with Ronald Sharp. With a Great of 4 stops, Swell of 5 stops, Choir of 3 stops and Pedal of 2 stops plus 6 couplers it was a delightfully compact and sweet-toned instrument, but on a chamber-organ scale. In 1968 it was rebuilt by S. T. Noad & Son into a 3 manual, 27 stop organ. The church dispensed with the organ in 1989 and parts were purchased by Geoff Bock.

In 2010, Peter McMillan purchased the Hele Swell/Choir windchest from Geoff Bock. Here, at last, was a very viable alternative for the little Walcker organ – a well-made mahogany mechanical action windchest of notable provenance and one which I would certainly consider incorporating into a rebuilt organ, if it could be fitted inside the original casework.

Thus began serious discussions again on what might be achieved with the organ. I had built my reputation on more than 50 years working with mechanical action and specialising in restoration and reconstruction. I was now facing the dilemma of considering the scrapping of the original Walcker single manual mechanical-action windchest and key action and replacing it all with the Hele windchest, a new two-manual console and electric action. In the end, the client won out and I undertook to investigate what stops might be able to be accomodated on the Hele windchest, to form a suitable two manual specification for a house organ.

Over the years, I had accumulated a great deal of second-hand pipework, most of it in a very bad state. This included some of the pipes from the 1851, Job No. 470, J W Walker organ ex All Saints' Church, North Parramatta, replaced in 1964. This pipework had been stored partly in the open for more than 40 years at the home of Barry Flack in Toongabbie and was both severely battered and filthy dirty. The wood pipes had mostly come apart. Upon selling up his house, Barry invited me to take the pipework and after days of scrounging and sorting, we managed to pack what I thought might be useful and get it back to the factory, where it sat for several years. Amongst other pipes that I had accumulated were some made by Palmers of London and Walter George Rendall for his large organ for Pitt Street Congregational Church in 1900. These latter wood pipes were exquisitely made.

Peter commissioned me to do a complete investigation of what might be able to be made fit into the old Walcker casework and after a month of playing ''jig-saw puzzles" with paper circles and squares cut out to represent each pipe – then measuring up and laying out of pipe sizes on and off the windchest, it became clear that there might be a feasible solution, notwithstanding considerable modification of the windchest toeboards and rackboards. Having looked through all the pipes and chosen what might be possible, an even greater task was to follow.

The windchest could be made fit with very little room to spare inside the casework and, somehow, all the pipes that had to be made fit, except two which were planted off at the treble end of the case, were allocated a position on the windchest. Then followed the drawing up of the plan of the pipe layout, so that the new toe-hole positions could be established and drilled, much new off-note conveyancing carved under the toeboards, new toeboard top-plates marked out drilled and screwed on. More than 200 oversize original toe holes were plugged, re-drilled and countersunk to take the new pipes. All new rack boards in Scots Pine were marked out and drilled; new rack pillars were turned.

John W Parker then undertook the complete restoration of the Hele windchest and in the process fitted Laukhuff electric slider motors and made the two 58 note electric under-actions for Manual I and Manual II.

All the reclaimed spotted metal pipes had first to be washed, then rounded out and panel-beaten, repaired, then polished and burnished, before being put on speech, voiced and regulated. More than 460 pipes didn't work at all before the long process of restoration. Nearly all of the wood pipes of the Stopped Diapason were all apart, in up to seven pieces, before being glued back together again. The metal pipes were all fitted with tuning slides to enable the new pitch to be established and allow easier tuning in difficult positions.

P Peter's requirement that the new organ be enlarged to two manuals and pedals and have electric action, necessitated scrapping the whole organ's internal structure and layout, together with the lowering of the double-rise bellows and removal of the original hand feeders and their mechanism in order to be able to fit the electric under-actions under the windchests. A new building frame was designed to carry the windchest and the double-rise bellows, also restored by John W Parker.

I The organ was dismantled at Glenorie and the lower case, with panels, brought to the factory at Seven Hills where it was set up. I commenced work on the organ and set about designing and building a whole new two manual Console in the style of Walcker, having new keyboards, key-cheeks, stop knobs and labels exactly replicated. Ebony was used for the sharps and drawstops and the keyboards are of Mahogany. New electric drawstop units were fitted across the top of the keyboards and the folding console lid designed to close over the drawstops and music desk.

All the Oak panelling for the new work was reclaimed from unused panels and their frames, All the old locks were taken apart cleaned and reassembled to be able to be used again. Amazingly, keys were found to fit the locks.

As work progressed, a new enlarged area behind the organ was built at the Glenorie house, to house the new rear Pedal division, together with the new electric blower. Peter also requested the addition of a settable combination action for the organ – this to be operated by four toe pedals above the Pedal Board, adjacent to the former Swell hitch-down pedal.

Despite it being ideal that the second manual pipe-work would be enclosed in a separate swell-box, no way forward could be found that would enable that to fit, so Peter instructed that the original swell shutters in the roof be done away with and the two divisions remain unenclosed on the windchest.

Both the original manual Bourdon and Salicional ranks of pipes in the Walcker organ have been incorporated in the new work. The Salicional on Manual II and the Bourdon divided up between the new 16ft Pedal Bourdon and the the new 4ft Pedal Gedeckt. It was Peter's plan that the organ would be regarded as a one manual instrument, with the stops divided over two manuals. After I had laid out a plan for a new rear windchest to contain the proposed pedal pipes, equally disposed around the centrally placed blower, Peter greatly increased the size of that space to allow for more room. This meant a second redesign of the rear windchest which would also now include the Manual I Open Diapason.

The new solid state switching system for the organ's action was designed and built by John Andrews of Tonal Resources, as was the manual set Combination System for the drawstop action. The whole controller and piston action is, by necessity, very compact, but works instantly and is very responsive.

The new Viola di Gamba of heavy spotted metal, was made by Tim N B Gilley in Melbourne to my specifications. It is a very successful voice in the Pedal.

The original facade pipes were repaired by Tim Gilley and then repainted and gilded by Marc Noble, also in Melbourne. The colour for the facade pipes is the same paint used for the facade of the Davidson Organ.

The crowning glory of the new organ is the casework, which adds on to the rear of the original organ. This was undertaken by Bill Hussein, my first apprentice in 1994 and allocated to Colonial Living at Rydalmere, who have done a superb job in manufacturing a new matching section of casework and mouldings in Oak, staining and polishing it, and erecting it at Burwood.

The adventure of matching 12 ranks of miscellaneous pipework of very dubious distinction, when first sighted, has proven most enlightening and rewarding. The restoration of old pipework in conjunction with historic organ restoration has been something I have been doing for years, but this was the first time I had ever gathered and restored a very motley array of pipes and expected them to all fit together to play in what amounts to a new instrument. I kept telling myself that they were all for just a house organ, but then of course, reality hit and the organ is now in pride of place in one of Sydney's most respected parish churches.

It is very sad that, despite hearing some of the organ playing, Peter did not live to hear the completed instrument. Following Peter's passing and the organ's designation for St Paul's, work had to begin over again on the new rear section and new rear windchest, to condense it into a smaller space in order to accommodate it into the extended matching Oak case. This became a greater challenge than re-laying out the pipes on the Hele windchest. The new blower silencing box projects slightly from the case beside the Console. Tuning access is via a passage board between the old and the new sections of casework. The organ is very compact but all is accessible.

The organ was completed in the factory, fully voiced and tuned, before being dismantled and taken to Burwood, after the new floor had been completed. It was handed over on 11th March 2015.

The Specification of the Organ is:

Manual I
Open Diapason*
Stopped Diapason
Dulciana
Principal

Manual II
Salicional
Lieblich Gedeckt
Rohr Flute
Nazard
Piccolo

Pedal
Subbass
Viola da Gamba
Gedeckt

8
8
8
4


8
8
4
2-2/3
2


16
8
4
CC – a 58 notes
CC - GG: wood, rest spotted metal. GG#9 to B12 new pipes. rest 1851 Walker
CC - B: wood 1900 Rendall, C –a wood. 1851 Walker
C – B: wood. rest plain metal and spotted metal, 1851 Walker
CC – a: spotted metal, 1851 Walker

CC – a 58 notes
CC – a: metal. Original Walcker pipes
CC – B: Zinc, C – a spotted metal Palmer pipework origin unknown
CC – B: Palmer spotted metal, rest 1851 Walker
CC-a: spotted metal, reclaimed and remade from various
CC – a: spotted metal, 1851 Walker

CCC to C 25 notes
1-12: new wood, then C13 – C25 original Walcker Bourdon pipes
New pipes heavy spotted metal
Original Walcker pipes (from the original manual Bourdon)
 

Couplers
Manual I to Pedal
Manual II to Pedal
Manual II to Manual I

* The 58 pipes of the Open Diapason are located on the new rear Pedal windchest

Tremulant to whole organ. Wind pressure: 70mm
Key and Stop action electric.

 

Finally, the installation of the organ at Burwood has been made possible solely by the generosity of Robert McMillan, brother of Peter. Robert has supported every stage of the new project, including the provision of the new polished hardwood floor. Without his support and generosity, none of this would have happened.

 

Photos and details below show the organ at Peter McMillan's Glenorie home





The specification is:

Manual
Bass Bourdon
Disc. Bourdon
Bass Salicional
Disc. Salicional

Pedal
Bourdon
Flute

8
8
8
8


16
8
Mechanical action





Electric action (converted from pneumatic Oct. 1999)
Added sometime before 1968
Added Oct. 1999 Peter DG Jewkes, ex St Alban's, Epping

Compass: 56 notes / 25 pedals













Photos: Stephen Bydder (Oct. 2007)