St Joseph's College Chapel
Ryde Road, Hunters Hill

B. 1911-12 Norman & Beard, London & Norwich;
inst. J. Holroyd, St George's Anglican Church, Hurstville
2m., 12 sp. st., 5c., tub. pn., Gt: 8.8.8.4.8. Sw: 8.8.8.8.4.8. (spare slide) Ped: 16.
Reb. 2007-08 Australian Pipe Organs for present location
2 manuals, 23 speaking stops, 8 couplers, electro-pneumatic,
Gt: 8.8.8.4.4.2.8. Sw: 8.8.8.8.4.III.8.8. Ped: 16.16.10-2/3.8.8.5-1/3.4.16






From SOJ Spring 2007:

In 1911 Norman & Beard, Norwich supplied an organ to John Holroyd which was then installed in St George's Anglican Church, Hurstville, inside what is presumed to be a case supplied by Holroyd. In 1968 this instrument was purchased by Ian Sommerville of Mt Colah and installed by him in his then home, the Holroyd case remaining at Hurstville. In 2000 the instrument was generously gifted to St Joseph's College, Hunters Hill and is currently being rebuilt inside the fine case which once graced the 1909 Norman & Beard organ in St Andrew's Uniting (formerly Presbyterian) Church, Parramatta. [The organ from here has been incorporated in a new organ in St Mary's Anglican Church, Ballina.] Australian Pipe Organs Pty Ltd was fortunate in being able to acquire this case which will present a very handsome appearance in the large, beautiful and resonant chapel of St Joseph's College designed by prominent Sydney architect Clement Glancey.


The new specification [provided by John Maidment, Nov 2007] is:

GREAT
Open Diapason
Claribel Flute
Dulciana
Principal
Suabe Flute
Fifteenth
Trumpet
Swell Sub Octave to Great
Swell to Great
Swell Octave to Great

SWELL
Violin Diapason
Lieblich Gedeckt
Salicional
Voix Celeste
Gemshorn
Mixture 15.19.22
Horn
Oboe
Swell Sub Octave
Swell Octave
Tremulant

PEDAL
Violone
Bourdon
Quint
Violoncello
Flute
Octave Quint
Viola
Trombone
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Swell Octave to Pedal

8
8
8
4
4
2
8





8
8
8
8
4
III
8
8





16
16
10-2/3
8
8
5-1/3
4
16







new

new: on clamp
A: separate chest








TC

new: on new chest
new: on spare slide






B: bottom 12 new
C
C
B
C
C
B
A




Great & Pedal Pistons Coupled


Compass: 58/30

Electro-pneumatic key action



Robert Heatley writes (SOJ Summer 2008-09):

The 1950s-1970s period in Australia, as well as elsewhere, saw the destruction or displacement of many objects of artistic merit or drastic alterations being made to them. This included most forms of art, architecture and music and what is so dear to many of us: pipe organs.

A survey of the Gazetteer of Pipe Organs on the OHTA website reveals, state by state, the extent of the losses and therefore, when one is able to resurrect a beautiful instrument which was generally thought to be “lost” or “broken up”, there is a feeling of considerable satisfaction with a worthy recovery. Such has been the case with the organ recently placed in St Silas’ Anglican Church, Albert Park (Vic) and now with the instrument which has found its way into the chapel of St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill (NSW).

The firm of Norman & Beard of Norwich (England) employed at its height a staff of approximately 300 and from its Norwich factory sent instruments to all parts of what was then known as the British Empire. Their instruments were renowned for standing up to the rigours of extreme climatic conditions and employed, as standard, an excellently designed and constructed triple-stage exhaust pneumatic action.

The metal pipework, always employing generous metal thicknesses, consisted of plain metal or zinc basses and treble pipes of high quality spotted metal. The wooden pipes were well constructed and “tropicalised”, meaning that the front and back sections of all of them were glued and additionally screwed together with small brass screws. The overall voicing style of their instruments was decidedly bold but thoroughly musical in the English romantic tradition.

Approximately ten instruments built by Norman & Beard found their way to Australia, five of which were installed in New South Wales churches, most by John Holroyd who was their appointed local representative.

One of the larger highly regarded instruments to come to Australia was that built for St Peter’s Anglican Church, Eastern Hill (Melbourne) which sadly was considered tonally and mechanically out of fashion and therefore scrapped during the 1970s, in favour of an instrument of classical design.

Locally, the splendid Norman & Beard ex St Saviour’s Church, Walton Place (London), now restored and installed by Peter D G Jewkes Pty Ltd in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, is another very welcome addition to Sydney’s stable of fine 19th century pipe organs.

The remainder of this article deals, as the heading suggests, with the restored and augmented Norman & Beard organ now installed in the chapel of St Joseph’s College Hunters Hill, and it may be opportune to include here a few words about that school and its lovely chapel.

St Joseph’s was founded in 1881 by a French religious order, the Marist Brothers, whose first four members in this country arrived in Sydney from Europe in 1872. Their first school here was in the area of Sydney known as The Rocks, but by 1878 they had acquired land in leafy and semi-rural Hunters Hill, about 10 km from the city centre and very conveniently reached by ferry. They transferred their boarding students there and in 1882 began a vast sandstone complex to house them. From its beginnings, St Joseph’s took only boarding students, a policy that lasted until 1996 when the first day students enrolled. For much of its history it has been the largest boarding school in Australia, if not the world, having close to 900 boarders at its height. It was a founding member of the Association of Great Public Schools and is, by any measure, one of the nation’s leading schools, including among its alumni the former Governor-General Sir William Deane, and the just-retired Chief Justice of Australia, Murray Gleeson.

The five-storey stone building was extended in 1889, this project being completed in 1894 except for the chapel which had to be delayed. In 1938 the chapel project was undertaken, with Clement Glancey, one of Sydney’s leading architects, being engaged. He designed the building along classical lines, with Norman arches, a nine-sided apse and an intricate coffered ceiling. The then headmaster, Brother Louis Hughes, worked closely with him, the two deciding that the best materials were to be used including fine sandstone from a nearby quarry owned by the College and a roof of Welsh slate. The chapel was opened in 1940, but saw practical completion in 1949 with the installation of the glorious stained glass windows manufactured in Munich by the studio of Franz Mayer.

The only element lacking in the chapel was a high quality musical instrument in the shape of a pipe organ, and this is where we take up the account of the recent project.

The instrument now installed in the chapel at St Joseph’s College was originally ordered for and installed in St George’s Church of England, Hurstville probably by John Holroyd in 1912, although other evidence suggests the involvement of Charles Edwards. It is apparent that the original case, which has remained at Hurstville, is of local manufacture, is not particularly attractive and was probably supplied by Holroyd, as were the swell box (not the shutter front) and console drawstops.

In 1969 this instrument was removed and was thought by many to have been broken up. In fact it was purchased by Mr F. I. (Ian) Sommerville and installed by him (minus the case) in his home, first at Fairfield Heights and later at Mt Colah. In 2002 Ian and his wife decided to downsize and move, and a thought uppermost in their minds was to find a suitable home for their instrument. Somehow they had heard that St Joseph’s College could be interested, so they contacted Brother Chris Wade and very generously offered the organ to the college, on the understanding that it would be restored and installed in the college chapel.

The then headmaster, Brother Paul Hough was delighted to accept this offer and in May 2002 Brother Chris Wade, acting for him instructed Australian Pipe Organs to remove the organ from the Sommerville home and despatch it to the builder’s factory in Melbourne. There it would remain in storage until funds became available to enable its restoration to proceed.

Nothing much happened for the next five years; there were a few attempts to identify donors and some tentative nibbles, but no material progress. In 2007 things changed when the family of the late Manus and Hannah Friel readily agreed to a suggestion that they fund the pipe organ project in honour of their deceased parents.

The Friels are a North Queensland family with connections to St Joseph’s College and the Marist Brothers. Members of the family had been seeking to provide a memorial to their parents and this project seemed an ideal solution. Their desire was to fund the project in its entirety and so the project could be given the green light immediately. The current headmaster of St Joseph’s College, Mr Ross Tarlington, gave the news his enthusiastic and unstinting support. However there were some considerations to be taken into account.



Original specification:

Great
Open Diapason
Claribel Flute
Dulciana
Suabe Flute
Trumpet
Swell to Great
Swell Octave to Great

Swell
Violin Diapason
Lieblich Gedact
Salicional
Voix Celeste
Gemshorn
Cornopean
Oboe
Swell Octave

Pedal
Bourdon
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal

8
8
8
4
8




8
8
8
8
4
8
8



16















TC

prepared for








Accessories
2 thumb pistons to Great
3 thumb pistons to Swell
Balanced mechanical Swell pedal

Action
Exhaust tubular pneumatic
Mechanical couplers

Compass 56/30


Despite the quality of the existing Norman and Beard pipework and bold voicing style referred to earlier, it was obvious (see above specification) that the absence of a Great Diapason chorus, the preparation only of the Swell Cornopean 8’ stop and the presence of only one pedal stop, namely a Bourdon 16’, presented difficulties in enabling the instrument to be effective in the quite large acoustic space it was to find itself in and in its new function of adequately accompanying a chapel service, often with 500 boys and young men present. Perhaps if the organ had been ordered for a private home one could understand why the stop list for the Great departed so much from the usual Norman & Beard instruments of this size destined for a church. This may have been one of the reasons for its removal from St George’s Church, Hurstville. Perhaps if it had been ordered for a private home one could understand the unusual choice of stops for the Great division. In any case the decision was taken to thoughtfully render the instrument more suitable for service use.

Basing this work on the tonal scheme of the 1912 Norman & Beard instrument in St Peter’s Chapel at Melbourne Grammar School, several new ranks were replicated, matching the pipework scales, metal composition and voicing treatment of that instrument. In total the new stops amount to 428 additional pipes.

All the existing pipework was cleaned, repaired as required and checked for correct speech, this work being carried out by John Lacey and Jeremy Smith. In the case of the new Swell Cornopean stop, the pipe scales, shallot dimensions, tongue thicknesses and voicing style were carefully copied from the Melbourne Grammar instrument to ensure an authentic result.

The Great Trumpet 8’ stop has been placed on a separate chest to enable the new Great Principal 4’ and Fifteenth 2’ stops to be placed on the main slider windchest with the Open Diapason 8’, so in the course of restoration a decision was made to extend the Trumpet 8’ stop down to 16’ pitch for use on the pedal organ as a Trombone 16’ with obvious benefits.

The Pedal organ has also gained a new Violone 16’ rank of 54 pipes, the bottom six pipes of which have been “haskelled” so as not to protrude above the side casework panels. This has tonally enhanced considerably what was previously a pedal division of very meagre tonal resources.

The Great slider windchest and Pedal Bourdon 16’ windchest had sustained considerable damage as a result of storm water at some time in the past; these had to be completely rebuilt. The Swell slider windchest has also been completely restored.

Alas, the instrument was minus a case, the existing, rather unattractive one having been retained in Hurstville as a general storage room.

Fortunately the very attractive case of the same period from the Norman & Beard instrument ex St Andrew’s Uniting Church, Parramatta (which had been relocated to St Mary’s Anglican Church, Ballina and was redundant to this new church’s needs) was available, eminently suitable and historically correct. It was stripped, repaired as required and repolished. It was also considerably deepened to enable the somewhat larger instrument to be placed within it.

The new added sections of the case incorporate carvings, corbels and casework panels which match the existing ones perfectly, this work being carried out by Philip Mierisch and Daniel Bittner. A new built-in drawstop console constructed in American oak with ebony jambs has been provided. Following restoration, the existing keyboards, pedalboard and builder’s name plate have been retained.

In April-May 2008 the instrument was installed in the beautifully prepared and restored west gallery with tonal finishing being carried out by Darrell Pitchford, Philip Mierisch and Robert Heatley. The instrument sits in the centre of this gallery where it can speak unimpeded down the full length of the chapel.

Later this year a second (mobile) console, again in American oak, was provided at the front of the chapel in the position previously occupied by an Allen electronic. The newly-installed organ was played publicly for the first time at Mass on Sunday 22nd June, the occasion being the celebration of religious jubilees of members of the Marist Brothers.

On Friday 7 November at 11.00 a.m. His Eminence George Cardinal Pell carried out the Service of Blessing and Dedication for the instrument with Peter Kneeshaw as organist.

The builders particularly wish to thank the following: Brother Christopher Wade and the very generous Friel family, without whose enthusiasm and total commitment to see a pipe organ in the College Chapel, the rescue and relocation of this worthy instrument in such a wonderful acoustical environment would probably not have taken place.

Mr and Mrs F. I. (Ian) Sommerville for gifting the instrument to the College in the first instance.

Richard Quinn, Director of the College Foundation and Organist.

Graeme Rushworth for his superb drawing of what the instrument would look like in the chapel.

Organ builder Darrell Pitchford for his on-site assistance and ongoing care.

May this lovely recovered example of the English organ builder’s art give much pleasure to all who worship in this place and many decades of service to St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill.


 
 
The three pictures above were taken by John Maidment at the Australian Pipe Organs
factory late in 2007 showing work in progress. The first shot shows the Great slider chest,
the second the original stop jambs which appear to be the work of John Holroyd rather
than Norman & Beard and the third the new Great Principal 4.


Two photos above show the dedication of the organ by Cardinal Pell.
The new front console is visible on the right. (Photos: College Web site)

Other photos: Dean Yates and APO (Nov 2008)