St Bede's Catholic Church
Pyrmont Road, Pyrmont

First organ: Geoffrey Kendall 1980s, (2/13 el.mag.) rem. 2010
Present organ: Op. 9816 Möller 'Artiste' 1963,
reloc. from USA Darrell Pitchford 2010
2m., 25 sp. st., 4 ranks ext.






Kendall organ

The historic church of St Bede's in Pyrmont dates from 1870. It is a popular venue for weddings being just across the road from the Sydney Casino. The tiny restored stone church has a small rear gallery on which stood the organ Geoffrey Kendall put together in the 1980s. With the use of extension, 13 speaking stops were available.


The specification was:

Great
Gedact
Principal
Koppelflöte
Fifteenth

Swell
Spitz Flöte
Dulciana
Gemshorn
Dulcet
Block Flöte
Tierce
Tremolo

Pedal
Bourdon
Bass Flute
Quint

Couplers
Swell to Great
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal

8
4
4
2


8
8
4
4
2
1-3/5



16
8
5-1/3






Electro-magnetic action

Compass: 61/30




Photos: Mark Quarmby 2008


Present organ: Op. 9816 Möller 'Artiste' 1963,
reloc. from USA Darrell Pitchford 2010
2m., 25 sp. st., 4 ranks ext.



Möller organ




The Möller organ consists of four ranks: Diapason, Flute, String and Trompette and is completely enclosed. The pipe façade is made from some case pipes from the previous Kendall organ and do not speak.

Darrell Pitchford writes (SOJ Summer 2010-11):


'Good things come in small packages", they say. What does a church do when their twenty-nine year old pipe organ is deteriorating and becoming too costly to maintain?

St Bede's is a small Catholic church in the heart of Pyrmont, Sydney, opposite Star City Casino. The church was built in 1867 using local sandstone and has been the parish centre for 143 years. The parish priest for many generations has been the Sydney Harbour Ports chaplain. St Bede's Church seats approximately 120 people at each of its two Sunday services and is a popular wedding venue.

A pipe organ was installed in the church in 1981. The console was playable from the back of the church and the main body of the organ was situated in the gallery at the rear of the church. The organ was built using an accumulation of different ranks of pipes from various redundant instruments. The soundboards and console were constructed of inferior quality chipboard and top note chest magnets used for the majority of the pipe work.

In 2007, Father Colin Fowler, parish priest for both St James', Forest Lodge and St Bede's, Pyrmont, asked us to repair a "few faults" occurring on the St Bede's organ. We were reluctant to maintain the organ on a permanent basis. However, because of our association with the Whitehouse organ in St James' Church, Forest Lodge, we agreed to keep St Bede's pipe organ functional, with the understanding that the parish members consider a long term solution to their existing pipe organ. St Bede's committee considered a few options:

1. rebuild their existing organ;
2. purchase a new pipe organ;
3. purchase a second-hand redundant pipe organ;
4. replace their existing pipe organ with an electronic instrument.

Options one, two and four were dismissed for various reasons, cost being a main consideration. The church committee asked us to search for a redundant pipe organ in Australia or overseas. A suitable organ would need to meet the following criteria:

(a) it must be less than 8' or 2.4 metres in height;
(b) it must be able to fit within an allocated area of the new gallery;
(c) it must be able to lead a congregation of 120 people;
(d) it must be tuned to equal temperament at A440 pitch as many other instruments including violin, flute and guitar are included in the musical liturgy at St Bede's.

We inspected a small one manual and pedal Walcher organ at St Mary's Anglican Church, Concord. The organ was considered to be too "shrill" and "screechy" and so the search for a suitable instrument from overseas began.

The Organ Clearing House in America had a few interesting small pipe organs for sale and one in particular looked promising. The Moller Artiste, built in 1963, Opus 9816 would certainly fit in the gallery and the specification, having four extended ranks would give the versatility required in a parish organ. Flute, String, Diapason and Trompette. Electro pneumatic action, detached 2 x 61 note manuals, thirty-two note pedal board and all pipework contained within a cabinet that is under expression using eight individual swell shutters.

Research from friends and blog pages on the internet revealed that the Moller Artiste organs were produced in great numbers for sale to small chapels and in particular as residence organs because they stood eight feet or 2.4 metres high. Our research also showed that Moller Artiste four-rank organs (ones including a reed) rarely came onto the market. We recommended Opus 9816 to St Bede's and negotiated a deal with Mr John Bishop, principal of the Organ Cleaning House.

At this stage we became aware that the organ was stored in the factory of Schoenstein & Co, organ builders. Mr Jack Bethards, president and tonal director of the company was extremely helpful with the careful packing of the organ into a shipping container. Each Trompette pipe was sealed in its own plastic bag. All the pipes were expertly packed in pipe crates. All other components, including the console were wrapped in Polycell. Mr Jack Bethards informed us that Opus 9816 was first sold to the Simpson Bible College in San Francisco. In 1982 the organ was moved to their new campus in Redding and later loaned to the First Presbyterian Church in Redding. The shipping container travelled through China, New Zealand and Tasmania and was delivered to St Bede's on 13 May 2010. Dismantling of the existing organ was completed using a claw hammer and "jemmy bar" as most of the organ was held together with four-inch nails. The existing blower and transformer/rectifier were salvaged to be used to power Opus 9816.

Whilst installing the organ, it was quite evident that the quality of the workmanship was first class. Although the Moller Artiste range is a stock unit organ, the attention to detail is remarkable For example, all pipe stays, pipe hooks and all bass metal pipe tuning slides are felted to avoid vibrations. The bellows leather was showing signs of wear, probably due to the number of times that the organ had been moved. It was re-leathered. The soundboard and off note chests are electro/pneumatic, again well constructed using chest magnets and diaphragms. All pneumatics will perform well for many years.

Our first reaction was to dispense with the switching system and re-wire to solid state. However, the Moller switching system uses a solenoid for every stop, at the rear of the keyboards. The solenoid pulls a slide attached to which is a contact for each note. The Moller system is so well made that we decided to retain these switches. We have been able to access a few spares from America should any be required. The pipe work is well made and voiced. The wooden pipes are polished. The metal pipes up to middle C are made of zinc and painted grey/green.

We were disappointed when we unpacked the Trompette pipes. They had fractional, small-scaled resonators, made of zinc (the tops of the resonators being organ metal), open thin shallots and slender tongues with a spot of solder on the tongues for weight. Our thought was that the Trompette must have been intended as a chorus reed. To our amazement, regulated and tuned the Trompette is a versatile reed that completes a well thought out specification.

It was important to the church that the organ should look like a pipe organ. We constructed a 'dummy front" using eleven pipes from the previous organ. These pipes are painted gold.

Removal of the old organ left a 2.6 metre hole in the handrail of the gallery. Together with a parish member, Mr Ron Gattone, it was decided to construct a Juliet or Minstral balcony to fill the area. The completed structure gives more space for the various musicians and aesthetically it compliments a very attractive, historic church.

Our thanks go to Father Colin Fowler for his support and trust throughout the project. Dean Yates, my off-sider, for his help, input and enthusiasm, Mr Robert Heatley from Australian Pipe Organs for his assistance in the tonal finishing of the organ.

Mr Peter Kneeshaw, AM played the opening recital at a dedication service on Sunday 24 October 2010. A full congregation were well entertained by Peter's recital, demonstrating the versatility of a small parish organ. Peter's encouragement, consultations with St Bede's, enthusiasm and energy ensured that St Bede's Parish had confidence in the project. The specification of M P Moller Opus 9816 with derivations is as follows:


Great
Diapason
Gedeckt
Viola
Octave
Flute
Viola
Twelfth
Fifteenth
Trompette
Chimes
Swell to Great

Swell
Gedeckt
Viola
Flute
Viola
Nazard
Flautino
Trompette
Trompette
Tremolo

Pedal
Bourdon
Gedeckt
Viola
Quint
Octave
Flute
Trompette
Trompette

8
8
8
4
4
4
2-2/3
2
8




8
8
4
4
2-2/3
2
8
4



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

A
B
C
A
B
C
C
C
D
Not present



B
C
B
C
B
B
D
D
Not present


B
B
C
B
A
B
D
D



Balanced Swell Pedal
Crescendo pedal
Compass: 61/32


Electro-pneumatic action


















Photos: Mark Quarmby (Oct 2010)