Methodist Church
Oxford Street, Waverley

Alfred Hunter & Sons 1888, 3 manuals, 24 speaking stops, 6 couplers, tubular-pneumatic action



From Sydney Mail, 26 January, 1889

From SOJ April/May 1992, Kelvin Hastie writes:

There can be no doubt that the former Methodist Church, Oxford Street, Waverley, was the finest of all the buildings constructed by the New South Wales Wesleyans in the nineteenth century. In the erection of this magnificent building, designed to seat a thousand people and known from the outset as the "Cathedral of Methodism in New South Wales", the Wesleyans demonstrated to the community the culmination of their material success and social standing in Victorian society. The church opened on 1 January, 1889 and was built of soft red bricks with designs in Oamaru stone; the spire reached 137 feet. With the passage of time, however, the weak exterior structure crumbled and, in spite of efforts to find a way to preserve the building, it had to be demolished in 1971. A line drawing made of the church at its opening is illustrated below, together with a picture of the interior (by courtesy of Graeme Rushworth from sources at the Uniting Church Archive), showing the organ.



An exceptionally fine organ was supplied to the church by Alfred Hunter & Sons, of London, and was entirely the gift of Mrs Ellen Schofield, who later endowed the Methodist Conference with a substantial bequest. The instrument was designed by Frederick Morley and installed by William Davidson at a cost of £1,0000. With three manuals and 24 speaking stops, the organ was an early example of a local instrument to use tubular-pneumatic action throughout and to be powered by a gas turbine blower. The instrument was the first Methodist instrument to be housed in a chamber, located to the left of an enormous rostrum. Upon the closure of the church in 1971, the organ was sold to Somerville House, a Methodist-Presbyterian Girls' School in Brisbane. Rebuilding was undertaken by Whitehouse Bros. of Brisbane and the organ was electrified with the provision of a new console and two additional pedal ranks. The Hunter case (similar to that which survives at St Andrew's Anglican Church, Summer Hill, in Sydney) was discarded, and, although the tonal scheme for the manuals was left intact, all the strings stops on the Great and Choir divisions were removed for the seemingly indispensible Nazard, Tierce and Mixture as late as 1986.

Subsequent to the demolition of the church the Methodists developed the site as a shopping plaza and office block, incorporating a chapel equipped with an electronic applicance.

The specification of the Hunter organ during the period 1888-1972 was:

Great
Open Diapason
Hohl Flöte
Gamba
Principal
Flute Harmonic
Twelfth
Fifteenth

Swell
Double Diapason
Open Diapason
Gamba
Lieblich Gedact
Gemshorn
Fifteenth
Mixture
Cornopean
Oboe

Choir
Viol di Gamba
Dulciana
Lieblich Gedact
Suabe Flute
Piccolo
Clarionet

Pedal
Open Diapason
Bourdon

Couplers
Great to Pedals
Choir to Pedals
Swell to Pedals
Swell to Great
Swell to Choir
Octave Swell

8
8
8
4
4
2-2/3
2


16
8
8
8
4
2
II
8
8


8
8
8
4
2
8


16
16









Tremulant
3 pistons to Swell
3 pistons to Great
Compass 58/30