St James' Anglican Church
Edwin Street, Croydon

James Conacher & Sons 1889 (2/15 mechanical)











From SOJ February/March 1985

St James' is most fortunate to possess a fine organ built by James Conacher & Sons, Huddersfield, England an 1889. It was opened in the church the following year. This instrument has given reliable service for over a century and only minor alterations have taken place. The most obvious of these are the repainting of the front pipes, the fitting of a balanced Swell pedal, and the replacement of some drawstop faces. It is interesting to note that the original ivory keys are still in place, held in by small brass pins. The tonal quality of the organ is very fine indeed.


GREAT
Open Diapason
Stop Diapason
Dulciana
Principal
Harmonic Flute
Fifteenth

SWELL
Bourdon
Open Diapason
Lieblich Gedact
Saliclonal
Voix Celeste
Gemshorn
Mixture
Oboe

PEDAL
Bourdon

COUPLERS
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Swell to Great
Swell octave

8
8
8
4
4
2


16
8
8
8
8
4
III
8


16







Compass 56/30
Mechanical action throughout
5 composition pedals




From the 2010 OHTA Conference Book, Dr Kelvin Hastie writes:



St James’ Church was designed by Edmund Blacket and opened in 1883 – the building was originally intended to be used as a school and temporary church, but the arrangement became permanent and in 1891 the building was extended with the additions of a transept and chancel.i

The present fine organ was built in 1893 by James Conacher & Sons of Huddersfield, a firm not to be confused with the rival company, established by James’ brother, and known as Peter Conacher & Co., “The Old Firm”. Only two instruments by James Conacher were sent to Australia, the other – for St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Bathurst, also dating from 1893 – was electrified by Geoffrey Kendall in 1974.ii

In 1980 the Croydon instrument was documented by John Stiller and he reported that only minor alterations had been carried out on it. These included the painting of the façade pipes, obliterating the original decorations, the replacement of the hitch-down pedal by a balanced pedal and the removal of a non-original tremulant. As a rare local example of its builder’s work, Stiller noted that it was significant on account of the following:


1. All of the original pipework has been preserved. . . .The open metal pipework has retained its cone-tuning and the wooden pipework shows a high standard of craftsmanship and an advanced level of design for its time.

2. The original case has been preserved, although the display pipe decorations are no longer present.

3. The original console has been retained, and includes original fittings such as stopknobs, most of the stop labels, keyboards, keyboard cheeks, pedalboard, composition pedals, nameplate of builder, and console telltale.

4. The original mechanical key, stop and combination actions are present, and the operation of the Swell Super Octave coupler demonstrates ingenuity of design.

5. The original hand-blowing apparatus is present and functions perfectly.iii

Stiller noted the specification as follows:

James Conacher & Sons 1893 (2/15 mechanical)


Great
Open Diapason
Stopd. Diapason
Dulciana
Principal
Harmonic Flute
Fifteenth
[vacant slider]

Swell
Bourdon
Open Diapason
Lieblich Gedact
Salicional
Voix Celeste
Gemshorn
Mixture
Oboe
[vacant slider]

Pedals
Bourdon

Couplers
Swell to Great
Swell Super Octave
Great to Pedals
Swell to Pedal

8
8
8
4
4
2



16ft tone
8
8
8
8
4
3 ranks
8



16








*



*




*


+
[t.c.]

*










*



Mechanical action
5 composition pedals

Compass 56/30









Number of pipes = 802

Pitch = a quarter tone sharp at 21 0 C

Wind pressure = 2-5/8”


Composition of Swell Mixture 3 RKS
C – b0: 15.19.22
C1 – b1: 12.15.19
C2 – b3: 8.12.15



*Non-original label

+C-B from Lieblich Gedact



i Rushworth, Historic Organs, 234.

ii Ibid., 235.

iii John Stiller, “St James’ Anglican Church, Croydon, NSW. Documentation of Pipe Organ built by James Conacher & Sons”. Organ Historical Trust of Australia, 1 October 1980.






























Photos: Trevor Bunning April 2010