Lindfield Uniting Church (formerly Methodist)
Cnr Tryon and Nelson Roads, Lindfield
Essentially Fincham (1903) & Australian Pipe Organs (2001) - (3/39 electro-pneumatic)
Article by Dr Kelvin Hastie Sydney Organ Journal (Autumn 2002 pp 23-25)
The Lindfield Uniting Church, located in Tryon Road, was designed by William Slade and opened in September 1914. It replaced an earlier building constructed near the railway station on the corner of Tryon Place and Gordon Road (now the Pacific Highway) in 1896. A new sanctuary reredos, communion table and rails were provided in 1935 to the designs of Norman W. McPherson: this work also enabled the organ to be moved to a large transept on the geographic east side of the church.
In the Summer 2000-1 issue of The Sydney Organ Journal it was announced that Australian Pipe Organs had been awarded the contract to rebuild the Lindfield organ, the aim of the project being to retain the maximum number of pipes and other components predating 1980, and also to ensure that every component of the organ was either repaired or replaced with material of first-class quality. The term "rebuild'', of course, implies the significant alteration of an organ; this stands in contrast to "restoration'', where every attempt is made to repair the existing fabric to good order, while replacing perishable items such as felt and leather. The history of the "rebuild'' has been problematic not just in Australia, but also in Europe and North America. How often, for example, do we find rebuilds that merely encompass tonal modifications, enlargements and console accessories at the expense of a viable mechanism? It is also apparent that in those churches where funds have been available for "ritual'' rebuilding every few decades, it is not surprising to find organs of little intrinsic value, in either artistic or heritage terms. In many instances the poor mechanical condition of these organs has necessitated their removal.
In spite of the foregoing, it must be stated that rebuilds are still undertaken by reputable builders today, but the process usually occurs with respect to organs already severely altered, or organs for which it is generally agreed that restoration is impractical. In some cases replacement of poor quality materials occurs, or other repairs are undertaken with a higher standard of workmanship evident. Inappropriate tonal additions are removed, or altered to be in better harmony with the organ's general style. Even so, the end result is seldom regarded as providing an instrument of historic merit unless special circumstances prevail. At Lindheld Uniting Church we find such a special case, owing to be organ's history and historic association with prominent musicians and musical events in central Sydney and Lindfield. It is important to note that it still contains the first organ pipes to accompany the worship of both Australian Catholics and Methodists. In spite of the reality of a saga of "ritual rebuilding" and enlargement, which has taken the organ from about 8 stops in 1839 to its present 39, the orgah is thus an important landmark.
An account of the organ is set out in Graeme Rushworth's Historic Organs of New South Wales on pages 33-38 and 85-87, although further research on the organ's beginnings is to appear in the supplement to this volume, currently under preparation by Mr Rushworth. While the history of the organ was outlined in the issue of SOJ mendoned above, another summary (based largely on Graeme Rushworth's findings) is presented below;
1839- Organ of British origin, formerly in the Jesuit Church, Gardiner Street, Dublin, brought to Australia and loaned to St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, by either F. or A. Ellard.
1840- Organ sold to the trustees of Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Macquarie Street, Sydney. (While there is no actual documented evidence to show that the Wesleyans purchased the organ supplied by Ellard, they did purchase an organ of the exact size and from the Catholics).
1844- Organ moved from Macquarie Street to the Wesleyan Centenary Chapel, York Street, Sydney.
1868- Organ rebuilt and enlarged by C. J. Jackson - he overhauled the organ and added two stops in 1880.
1886- Organ re-erected in the Centenary Hall (Central Methodist Mission), built on the same site as the former Wesleyan Centenary Chapel.
1888- Organ provided with a new case by William Davidson. Made in cedar, it featured carvings and decorations in Classical style to match the building.
1903- Rebuild and enlargement completed by George Fincham & Sons, of Melboume, to provide 3 manuals, 35 speaking stops and tubular pneumatic action.
1908- Centenary Hall closed and organ moved to the Methodist Conference Hall, Castlereagh Street, Sydney.
1917- Organ sold to the Lindfield Methodist Church and erected by C. W. Leggo at the front of the building.
1935- Organ moved to a transept chamber and renovated by Hill, Norman & Beard, who provided new bellows (single rise, ribless with springs) and replaced some of the pedal chests.
1980- Organ rebuilt by G. Kendall, who removed the Fincham console fittings and the entire tubular-pneumatic action. Several tonal changes and additions were made.
2001- Rebuild undertaken by Australian Pipe Organs.
The recent rebuild has been designed to provide the church with a first-class electro-pneumatic instrument, with all pipes and parts carefully attended to, with much care taken in reversing or rationalising some of the changes carried out in 1980. The project was generously funded through donations, assisted by an initial grant from the Centenary of Federation Community Projects Program of $68,700, and subsequently increased by $40,000, to make a total of just under $110,000. (The second grant was made possible after the failure of another community project in the Bradfield electorate, and enabled the expansion of the organ project to include moving the casework forward in the building to improve its appearance, tonal egress and maintenance space, and also to allow the redecoration of the front pipes) .
A summary of the work undertaken by Australian Pipe Organs is outlined below:
(1) Reinstallation of the previous blower in the chamber in a new silencing cabinet.
(2) Complete rebuilding of the wind system, providing five new single-rise bellows and new metal trunking throughout.
(3) Complete restoration of the existing manual and pedal soundboards, all of which were of good quality. The wells of the manual chests were deepened to allow for optimal operation of, and access to, the new electro-pneumatic action. Additional rackboard stays were provided, in addition to better supports for reed pipes. It was regrettably necessary to exclude 7 of the lowest pipes from the Swell Open Diapason No. 2, as the conveyancing in existence was poor in layout and the amount of room available did not allow for effective re-siting. (The unused pipes are now stored in the organ chamber) . The expression boxes for the Swell and Choir were repaired and refitted, although some modifications were made to the Swell enclosure to improve access, tonal egress and shutter operation. Increased space facilitated the supply of a passage board between the flue and reed chests of the Swell division.
(4) Installation of a completely new electro-pneumatic action throughout. The main chest actions consist of a two-stage pneumatic system controlled by chest magnets. The new action is fitted in such a manner as to allow for ready access. New stop slider solenoid motors (by Kimber Allen) were installed.
(5) Repair (and occasional remaking) of existing pipework, with the manufacture of new pipes (or the supply of pre-existing ing stock) to replace those pipes missing or beyond repair. A new Pedal Principal 8' (with extension to 4') was supplied. Great care was made to preserve surviving inscriptions. A paper sticker was afflxed to the CC (or lowest) pipe of every rank to provide a record of the historical details of each stop.
(6) Repair and strengthening of the building frame, with new bracing for sections of the Pedal division and for off-note chests.
(7) Rebuilding of the 1980 console, retaining the existing keyboards and stopknobs (which have ivory inserts). The key-cheeks were remade in Fincham style (based on surviving key-cheeks from the 1890 Fincham & Hobday organ formerly in the Fiztroy Methodist Church, Melbourne), and new divisional labels were fitted (also in Fincham style, with scalloped edges). New solid-state switching and combination action, made in Australia, was fitted, the controls for which are discreetly located behind a sliding panel above the Swell manual. The mechanical balanced pedals (for Swell and Choir) were refitted and rebalanced for optimal operation. A new bench was made, the original heavily worn cedar example being carefully stored inside the chamber. The console area was renewed in mahogany and polished to match the rest of the casework, in an attempt to reproduce the pre-1980 console finishing.
(8) Removal of the casework to a position 18'' forward of the chamber to allow better clearance of a metal roof beam, more spacious internal layout and better tonal egress. The existing cedar casework, wlth superb detail (including mouldings, carved columns, capitals and balusters), was repolished and a new matching side panel was built by Joiners in Sydney to fill the gap created after the case was brought forward. (A panel with an oval moulding was found under the building, being discarded either in 1917 or 1935 when the case was reduced in size: this was used in the lower section of the new side return).
(9) Restencilling of the front pipes to restore pattems surviving under the layers of twentieth-century gold paint. Not originally intended to be a part of the project, this massive task was undertaken in a matter of a few weeks by Mr Peter Clark of Sydney, well-known for his stencilling and façade restoration work for Pitchford & Garside.
(10) Regulation and fine tuning of the pipework to produce an integrated result.
The organ was rededicated in grand style on 14 November 2001, a capacity audience being in attendance. The organ was jointly recommissioned by the President of the Uniting Church in Australia, The Revd. Professor James Haire, and be Member for Bradfield, The Hon. Dr Brendon Nelson. The address was given by The Revd Dr Gordon Moyes, of the Wesley Mission, while speeches and readings were provided by Rear Admiral Peter Sinclair (former Govenmr of NSW), the Hon. Barry O'Keefe (President of the National Trust in NSW, Kelvin Hastie (organ consultant) and Nancy Joyce (a descendent of Lindfield's first organist). Music was provided by the Ravenswood Vocal Ensemble, and Heather Moen Boyd and Dr Paul Paviour presided at the console. A specially commissioned anthem composed by Dr Paviour was performed. While the instrument is now to be considered essentially the work of Fincham (1903) and Australian Pipe Organs (2001), the survival of so much pre-1840 and 1868 pipework is to be considered remarkable, given the nature and extent of the line of rebuilds. In terms of the stoplist, the organ differs from the 1903 scheme through the following retentions or deletions:
(1) The Great Twelfth, dating from 1980, was retained as a similar stop was included in the 1868 Jackson scheme.
(2) The Gamba was retained on the Great as a 16' stop, the bass octave of which was provided in 1980 to create a Pedal Violone. Remade during the current work, the Gamba is unified between Great and Pedal. (The 1903 Great had possessed a Double Open Diapason 16' which was removed at Lindfield either in 1917 or 1935 to save space - thus the re-instatement of 16' flue tone to this division is in keeping with the general 1903 concept).
(3) The Swell Cornopean, removed in 1980 and used to provide spare pipes for the Great Trumpet, was not replaced: the existing Horn was considered sufficient for the Swell in both tonal and dynamic terms. The Vox Humana provided in 1919 by C.W. Leggo on a "cheek'' to the Choir was placed on the Swell reed chest, the Choir cheek being removed.
(4) Added in 1980, the Pedal Trombone 16' was retained and rebuilt in the present work. A Trombone (or another 16' stop) had been provided in 1903, but removed at Lindfield in either 1917 or 1935 for reasons of space. Utilising the benefits of solid-state switching, additional extended stops on the pedal (Quint 10-2/3, and Octave 4') were retained. The Pedal Principal stop was provided with new pipes.
It is thus a pleasure to report that in both tonal and mechanical terms the result has exceeded expectations, the organ now being a superb vehicle for both service accompaniment and the performance of organ works in Romantic style. What was only recently considered an unwieldy dinosaur, destined for extinction, has now been reincarnated as one of the finest church organs in Sydney and the largest instrument on the upper North Shore. The project was instigated and managed by a committee at Lindfield, led by Dr Geoffrey Stacy, whose hard work in fund raising and indefatigable determination to see the instrument reinstated in the best possible manner, is worthy of special note. The staff of Australian Pipe Organs are also to be commended for their great care and skill in rebuilding the organ.
The current specification is:
Essentially Fincham (1903) & Australian Pipe Organs (2001) - (3/39 electro-pneumatic)
Open Diapason No.1
Open Diapason No.2
Open Diapason No.1
Open Diapason No.2 + GG
Vox Celeste TC
Lieblich Gedact +
Dulciana (grooved bass) TC
Orchestral Oboe TC
Swell to Great
Choir to Great
Swell to Choir
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal
Choir to Pedal
Swell Unison Off
Swell Sub Octave
Gt. & Ped. pistons coupled
+ ranks identified by APO as containing the oldest pipes (pre-1840)
6 pistons each to Great, Sweell and Choir
6 toe pistons to Pedal
6 toe pistons to Swell
8 general pistons
Gt to Ped reversible thumb and toe piston
Sw to Gt reversible thumb and toe piston
Ch to Ped reversible thumb piston
Trombone toe piston
Set and General Cancel pistons
Solid State combination switching with 10 memory levels
© PdL 2006
Hastie, Kelvin Music Making in the Wesleyan Churches of NSW 1855-1902: origins, attitudes and practices (M. Phil. thesis, Music Department, University of Sydney, 1991).
MacDonald, Lillyan "Accompaniment to a Century of Methodist Praise: an historic pipe organ'', Journal and Proceedings of the Australasian Methodist Historical society,
No 95 September 1975, 1979-92.
Rushworth, Graeme, Historic Organs of New South Wales (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1988) .
Stacey, Geoffrey A Cloud of Witnesses at Tryon Road Uniting Church 1896-1996 (Lindfield Tryon Road Uniting Church Centenary Committee, 1996).