Epping Uniting Church (formerly Congregational)
cnr Oxford and Chester Streets, Epping

J.E. Dodd 1928, rebuilt G. Kendall (1977-78),
Additions and repairs J. Parker (1989-92 and 1993)
Restored P.D.G. Jewkes 2009
(2/15 electric)




Photo: Alan Caradus (August 2012)




Epping Uniting Church, the Organ. Photo: Laurie Wigney


From SOJ Autumn 1996:

This organ was built in Adelaide in 1927 by J.E. Dodd and was installed in the church in 1928 at a cost of £1, 068. It had two manuals, 12 stops and tubular-pneumatic action. Church records show that there were considerable disagreements with Dodd over the organ's construction and it was not completely finished until 1929.

The specifcation was:

Great
Open Diapason
Stopped Diapason
Dulciana
Harmonic Flute

Swell
Melodic Diapason
Clarabel
Viol d'Orchestre
Celeste
Dulcet
Oboe

Pedal
Bourdon
Bass Flute

8
8
8
4


8
8
8
8
4
8


16
8


After changes to the interior of the church in the early 70s, G.D. Kendall (1977-78) rebuilt and electrified the organ and supplied a completely new console. Further repairs, modifications and additons were made by John Parker in 1989-92. This included considerable repairs and replacement of pipes removed by vandals in 1993.

The new specification was:

Great
Open Diapason
Stopped Diapason
Dulciana
Principal
Harmonic Piccolo

Swell
Claribel
Viol d'Orchestre
Geigen Principal
Fifteenth
Tierce
Trompette
Super Octave
Sub Octave
Tremulant

Pedal
Bourdon
Principal
Bass Flute
Quint
Stopped Flute

Couplers
Swell to Great
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal

8
8
8
4
2


8
8
4
2
1-3/5
8





16
8
8
5-1/3
4









new pipes
pipes from the Harmonic Flute (1927)




pipes from the Dulcet (1927)
new pipes
new pipes
Oboe reworked with new resonators





A existing 1927 Bourdon extended

A
A
A







Peter Jewkes writes (SOJ Summer 2008-09):

Work will commence in late October on restoration of the 1928 instrument by J. E. Dodd, rebuilt by Geoffrey Kendall in 1977. Included in this project will be restoration of soundboards, bellows and action. Special attention will be given to fairly extensive pipework repairs, and reversal and/or rationalisation of the numerous 1970s tonal changes. New solid state notes switching and combination piston actions will also be provided. The project’s consultant is Dr Kelvin Hastie on behalf of the Uniting Church Music Committee.





Epping Uniting Church, the Console. Photo: Laurie Wigney

 


From SOJ Autumn 2010, Dr Kelvin Hastie writes:


An appreciation of the work of J.E. Dodd of Adelaide has regrettably come too late to preserve this heritage – very few of his firm’s instruments of any period have been restored and most have suffered badly at attempts to improve and modernise.  While there can be no doubt that the Dodd organs of the early twentieth century are better conceived both tonally and mechanically than those built between the two World Wars, many of the later instruments possessed quality materials and workmanship (notably soundboards and imported pipe work), even though their actions may not have been always reliable.

The J.E. Dodd organ built for Epping Congregational Church in 1928 was utterly typical of the suburban church organ of the period: two manuals, twelve speaking stops and tubular-pneumatic action controlled from a detached console.  A pleasant case adorned the front of the church and the tonal design was that of the octopod.

By the 1977 the organ’s mechanism had deteriorated and the church accepted a quotation from Geoffrey Kendall to rebuild the instrument. As Kendall has long disappeared from our midst, it is not inappropriate to describe his work as being a disaster wherever he succeeded in gaining a contract.  The Epping church received greater value than most, for at least its organ continued to work long after most others had failed.  Sadly, many fine organs were ruined by his hands in the decade or so between 1974 and 1984 – instruments by Conacher, Fincham & Hobday, Hardy & Son, Richardson, Taylor, for example.  

At Epping, Kendall’s work consisted of electrifying the instrument with large pulldown electro-magnets, supplying a new plywood console with Kimber-Allen fittings and modifying the organ’s tonal disposition, either by discarding original ranks or transposing them.  The wiring in the back of the console was very haphazard and the organ was constantly troublesome as a result.  The tonal modifications were likewise not entirely successful, especially the attempt to convert the Swell Oboe to a Trompette.  Some work to repair to the organ, replace some of the transposed pipe work and to add a Pedal Principal 8’, was undertaken by John W. Parker of Sydney in the years 1989-93.

Following the receipt of a generous donation, the Epping Uniting Church decided in 2008 to engage Peter D.G. Jewkes to rebuild the organ, the project being initiated by Laurie Wigney and Brian Beech, organists of the church.  The author was invited to act as an advisor to the church and to report on progress. The project involved work on the entire instrument and was completed in November 2009.  A summary is outlined below:

1) The console was stripped down, with all 1977 wiring and relays removed.

2) The bellows were stripped down and re-leathered using best-quality sheepskin, with surfaces repainted and corners sealed with leather in the traditional manner.

3) The pedal chests were restored and fitted with new electro-magnets and valves.

4) The new solid-state unit (piston relay action by A.J. and L.Taylor of the UK and note switching by Richard Larritt of Adelaide) was wired up to junction points in the console, with associated relays, transistors and switching units.

5) The console was fully rewired and some cosmetic work carried out on the stop jambs and key surfaces.

6) The manual soundboards were fully restored using traditional methods – these were found to be in very good condition, with minimal shrinkage and warping of timber.  The table and toe boards of each soundboard were planed and covered in graphite, in accordance with traditional practice and the sliders were carefully fitted and checked for movement.  New timber infill was supplied to the damaged ends of some sliders.  The electromagnets were fitted with new pulldown wires.

7) The pipe work was gradually repaired in the works, with the Oboe sent to Australian Pipe Organs, Melbourne, for restoration to its original configuration (including the reinstatement of caps for the control of tone and regulation).

8) The wind trunking, swell box (including shutters) and stop motors were repaired and the blower removed to a room beneath the instrument.

9) The organ was revoiced and re-regulated and the stop disposition rationalised – the Quint 10-2/3’ extension has proven to be far more highly successful than first envisaged.  Kendall supplied a lone Tierce 1-3/5’ to the organ and this, of course, was irrational without its accompanying Nasard. The Tierce was transposed down to become a Twelfth 2-2/3’ and this is far more useful.

The project has been remarkably successful: all parts of the organ have been thoroughly rebuilt or repaired using high quality materials and workmanship.  The defects of the 1977 work have been eliminated, although the veneered plywood console shell has been retained for reasons of economy. The musical outcome has exceeded all expectation and the pipe work has been superbly regulated for evenness of tone, blend within and between ranks of pipes and with well-considered treble/bass dynamic gradations.  Stops such as the previously useless Swell reed, have been completely transformed and are now musically useful.  The organ, despite its relatively small size, now has a far wider tonal palette and will doubtless prove to be most satisfying in the accompaniment of hymns and in the provision of solo and ensemble repertoire for many years to come. The specification of the organ is:

 

Great
Open Diapason
Stopped Diapason
Dulciana
Principal
Harmonic Piccolo

Swell
Viol d’Orchestra 
Claribel 
Principal 
Twelfth 
Fifteenth 
Oboe 
Tremulant

Pedal
Bourdon
Quint 
Principal 
Bass Flute

Couplers
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Swell to Great
Great Super Octave piano+
Swell Super Octave
Swell Sub Octave
Swell Unison Off
Great to Pedal pistons


8
8
8
4
2


8
8
4
2-2/3
2
8



16
10-2/3
8
8



























A
A

A










Compass 61/30

Electro-magnetic action

3 pistons to Great

3 pistons to Pedal (under Swell manual)

4 pistons to Swell

3 reversible pistons for unison couplers

Full organ piston

General cancel piston

+ Works on Great Stopped Diapason 8’ and Dulciana 8’ only



From SOJ (Summer 2010-11):

 



Photo: Alan Caradus (June 2012)


The Organ in Chester Street Uniting Church, Epping: A Brief History

Laurie Wigney

Services began in what was then the Epping Congregational Church on 2nd February, 1913, in a tiny wooden building on the present site. The present structure was opened fourteen years later on 11th June 1927. Several months before that the organist at Petersham Congregational Church had been commissioned to prepare the specifications for a pipe organ for the new church.

The organ was built by a firm which had its home base in South Australia. The firm of J. E. Dodd was founded by Josiah Eustace Dodd (1856 – 1952) in 1894; he was succeeded by his son D. Eustace Dodd, who was largely responsible for installations outside South Australia (their local office was at 599 Darling Street, Rozelle). The organ was finished in 1928, and the opening and dedication took place on 3rd July, 1929, before a congregation of 450. The organ was installed free of debt, about half the amount required being raised by anonymous donors.

The organ was the third last of Dodd's organs in NSW, and his operations here closed down in 1930.

The organ was utterly typical of the suburban church organ of the period: two manuals, twelve speaking stops and tubular-pneumatic action controlled from a detached console. A pleasant case adorned the front of the church and the tonal design was that of the octopod.

By 1977 the organ's mechanism had deteriorated and the church accepted a quotation for the rebuilding of the instrument. As this particular organ builder has long disappeared from our midst, it is not inappropriate to describe his work as being a disaster wherever he succeeded in gaining a contract. The Epping church received greater value than most, for at least its organ continued to work long after most others had failed.

The wiring in the back of the console was very haphazard and the organ was constantly troublesome as a result. The tonal modifications were likewise not entirely successful, especially the attempt to convert the Swell Oboe to a Trompette. Some work to repair the organ, replace some of the transposed pipe work and to add a Pedal Principal 8', was undertaken by John W. Parker of Sydney in the years 1989-93.

Following the receipt of an initial generous anonymous donation, and many other donations made in honour of friends and relations remembered within and outside the church, the Epping Uniting Church decided in 2008 to engage Peter D.G. Jewkes to restore and rebuild the organ. The project involved work on the entire instrument and was completed in November 2009.

The project has been remarkably successful: all parts of the organ have been thoroughly rebuilt or repaired using high quality materials and workmanship. The defects of the 1977 work have been eliminated, although the veneered plywood console shell has been retained for reasons of economy. The musical outcome has exceeded all expectation and the pipe work has been superbly regulated for evenness of tone, blend within and between ranks of pipes and with well-considered treble/bass dynamic gradations. Stops such as the previously useless Swell reed have been completely transformed and are now musically useful. The organ, despite its relatively small size, now has a far wider tonal palette and will doubtless prove to be most satisfying in the accompaniment of hymns and in the provision of solo and ensemble repertoire for many years to come.




Material for this article was drawn from:
1. Douglas Pulsford, Minutes to Remember
2. Graeme D. Rushworth, Historic organs of New South Wales, Hale & Ironmonger 1988
3. Dr. Kelvin Hastie OAM, Three Recent Organ Projects in NSW, article in the Sydney Organ Journal, March 2010


Email from Rodney Ford (Jewkes Company) on 2 June 2016:

"The Jewkes Company provided a new console for Epping Uniting Church. During the 2009 restoration work funds were not available to replace the very poor existing console. Subsequently, a generous donation has enabled the Church to complete this work. The console is of oak, stained to match the exisiting organ Dodd casework. Interior timber work including jambs, key cheeks etc. are of mahogany.

The console layout and dimensions will hopefully now provide players with a comfortable and familiar environment."

 

 



Photo: Rodney Ford (July 2016)












Console photos: Alan Caradus (December 2016)