Hurstville Christadelphian Ecclesia
Cnr Boundary Rd and Myall St, Oatley

B. 1905 Geo. Fincham & Son for St John's Presbyterian Church, Wahroonga
Inst. new Wahroonga church 1929 Hill, Norman & Beard
with addition of Harmonic flute 4 to Great (o/n 90)
Inst. present location 1961. Res. Pitchford & Garside 1983
Partly res. Peter Jewkes 2009
2m., 11, 3c., tr. Gt: Sw: Ped: 16.

Photos above: Trevor Bunning (Oct 2011)

From organ recital program notes (31 Oct, 2009):

The 1905 George Fincham Pipe Organ, originally built fo St John's, Wahroonga, was purchased by the Hurstville Christadelphians in 1961 and moved to its current location between 1986 and 1992 by congregation member John Wright, who has continued to maintain the organ with Lloyd Schwer.  The organ was built by George Fincham, one of Australia's finest and largest organbuilding companies, and is an increasingly rare example of an Australian organ from this period still in original condition.  In 2008, the Heritage Branch, NSW Department of Planning, kindly assisted the restoration of the organ with a grant for $21,000.  Peter Jewkes and company, along with valuable heritage advice from Dr Kelvin Hastie, undertook the recent restoration work on the organ.  The historic organ continues to be regularly used to accompany worship services held at the hall.

The specification is (noted MQ Oct 2009):

Open Diapason

Violin Diapason

Ped Bourdon

Swell to Great
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal





(whole organ)


Trigger Swell pedal

* Common Bass with Claribel

+ Common Bass with Gedact

Compass: 56/30

4 composition pedals

Photos: Trevor Bunning (Oct 2011)

A 1905 Fincham Organ Faithfully Restored

By Kelvin Hastie OAM


From Sydney Organ Journal (Summer 2009-10):


The Hurstville District Christadelphian Ecclesia holds its meetings in a hall in the southern Sydney suburb of Oatley.  This modern building was opened in the late 1980s, replacing a former building in Rose Street, Hurstville, vacated upon the expansion of the Westfields shopping centre.  The organ was built in 1905 by George Fincham & Son of Melbourne and originally installed in St John’s Presbyterian Church, Wahroonga.  In 1929 it was moved to a new building on the Wahroonga site by Hill, Norman & Beard (Aust.) Pty. Ltd, at which time a 4’ Harmonic Flute was added to the Great division by means of a clamp on the rear of the chest.  In 1961 the Wahroonga church purchased a much larger instrument from Pels & Zoon of Almaar, Holland and the Fincham was relocated to Hurstville. 

The organ continued to function admirably at Hurstville and in 1981 Pitchford & Garside were engaged to carry out some restoration work, while dismantling the added Harmonic Flute: this addition had an adverse impact on the winding of notes on the Great, while restricting tuning access between the Great and Swell.  Removal of the organ to Oatley in the years 1986-92 was undertaken by two members of the Ecclesia: John Wright and Lloyd Schwer, Mr Schwer having served as an employee of Hill, Norman & Beard (Aust.) Pty. Ltd. between 1955 and 1961. There are other organbuilding connections in the congregation: Bob Collins (father of the Ecclesia’s treasurer, Phil Collins) worked for Whitehouse Bros. in Brisbane in the 1940s and then in Sydney with S.T. Noad from 1949.

The present project for the Ecclesia involved further partial restoration of the organ by Peter D.G. Jewkes Pty Ltd which was supported by a grant of $21,000 from the Heritage Branch of the NSW Department of Planning. The project was spearheaded by Dr Rachel Hocking, an organist of the Ecclesia, who holds a Ph.D. in music from the University of NSW, where she has also lectured.  Dr Hocking, who also has a licentiate diploma in piano, is an examiner for the Australian Music Examinations Board and works for the Music Council of Australia.

Commencing in February 2009, the project lasted seven months and the instrument was dedicated in a recital and hymn festival on 31 October.   The recitalist was David Tagg, Organ Scholar of St Stephen’s Uniting Church, Macquarie Street, Sydney. A former Knox Grammar student who studied organ with Peter Kneeshaw, David performed works by J. S. Bach, Dale Wood, Louis Lefebure Wely, John Rutter, C.S. Lang, Noel Rawsthorne, Pietro Yon, Felix Mendelssohn and C.M. Widor.


The Work Described

The Fincham instrument is of very sound design and construction, despite what is a most economical use of materials.  Although built after the turn of the century, it owes far more – both mechanically and tonally – to the nineteenth century and could easily be mistaken for an instrument built in the 1880s. The Jewkes firm was engaged to complete the full restoration of the pedal coupler action, restoration of the tremulant, the reinstatement of dead notes on both Swell and Pedal divisions, the full restoration of the Great and Swell soundboards (the major component of the work) and the restoration of the pipes of the Swell Oboe 8’, with careful attention to voicing and regulation of the rank using other surviving Fincham examples (notably at St Joseph’s Edgecliff) as a guide.  The internal components of the organ were dismantled and reassembled upon completion, with the wooden and metal cone-tuned pipework cleaned, regulated and fine tuned.

A more detailed account of work completed is outlined below:

  1. The Swell and Great chests were cleaned and stripped down, with the bars sealed with animal glue.  The tables were planed, and owing to the segmentation (into four plates) characteristic of Fincham organs, there was no evidence of splitting in the table and thus no screws, or infill were required. The tables, upperboards and sliders were planed true and covered in graphite for lubrication.  Traditional blue paper was applied to the bearers. The pallets were recovered in new felt and lambskin and new canvas was used to cover the grid.  New pulldown wires, of phosphor-bronze, were used to replace the previous steel set and new guidepins provided for the pallets.  Rackboards were cleaned and new shellac was applied.
  1. The tremulant was releathered, rebushed and a new drawstop control installed.
  1. The Oboe resonators were sent to specialist pipe makers, Australian Pipe Organs Pty Ltd, of Melbourne, for extensive repairs. The stop was then voiced at the Ermington works and regulated on site.
  1. Extensive work was undertaken on the pedal couplers, with the assembly cleaned and repolished. Broken backfalls and roller arms were repaired. New brass pins were provided to the wooden rollers, which were then rebushed in red felt.  New leather buttons, red felt cloths, glued red thread and phosphor-bronze wires were provided for the restored trackers.
  1. The dead Pedal note (top A sharp) and leaking conveyances to the bottom octave of the Swell Violin Diapason 8’ stop were repaired.
  1. The pipework was cleaned and regulated upon the reassembly of the organ. It is important to note that the original cone tuning was retained for open metal flue pipes.

Regrettably funds did not allow for the restoration of the casework and console area, or the restoration of the bellows to double-rise operation.  The work completed does, however, provide yet another example of local expertise in the field of organ restoration, following the processes outlined in NSW Heritage: Pipe Organ Conservation and Maintenance Guide (NSW Heritage Office and Organ Historical Trust of Australia, 1998).

While the instrument is of modest dimension, there was no pressure to make additions, or undertake modifications to provide upperwork.  The sound carries very well in what is a small but lofty building: its adequacy for leading singing was ably demonstrated during the hymn festival of 31 October. The tonal quality of each rank is exceptional: especially fine are the two flutes, a superb Swell Violin Diapason, the very delicate and well-voiced Dulciana and Gamba ranks, as well as bright and clear 4’ principals, which compensate for the lack of 2’ tone.  In a statement of significance prepared during his documentation of 1985, John Stiller made the following comments:

“This instrument is a very fine example of a Fincham organ and has many outstanding tonal qualities. The Great Claribel is very clear and has a distinct chiff. The Swell Gedact is beautifully mellow and is a characteristic example of skilled voicing of wooden pipes, which is a hallmark of Fincham organs.  Overall there is good tonal contrast and definition between the various registers, supported by a solid Pedal Bourdon.”

The personnel involved in the project were: Murray Allan, Rodney Ford, Peter Jewkes, David Morrison, Kornelius Schmidt, Daniel Tiedman and Carmel Grech (office administrator). The organ consultant was Dr Kelvin Hastie OAM and the project manager was Dr Rachel Hocking.



1. John Stiller. “Christadelphian Ecclesia – Ecclesial Hall, Hurstville NSW: Documentation of Pipe Organ built by George Fincham & Son, 1905”. Organ Historical Trust of Australia and Heritage Council of NSW, 10 July 1985.

2. Graeme Rushworth. Historic Organs of New South Wales: the instruments, their makers and players, 1791-1940  (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1988), 187.

3.  NSW Heritage: Pipe Organ Conservation and Maintenance Guide (NSW Heritage Office and Organ Historical Trust of Australia, 1998). This provides the guiding principles for organ conservation that have governed the firm’s work.






Photos: MQ (Oct 2009)

Photo above: Arthur Lee (Oct 2011)