Vaucluse Uniting Church (formerly Congregational)
Russell Street, Vaucluse
Chappell & Co. (London) c. 1873, rebuilt C.W. Leggo 1933 (2/9 mechanical)
From SOJ Autumn 1997, Winter 1997:
The organ in the Vaucluse Uniting (formerly Congregational) Church bears the name of "Chappell & Co.'' Chappell & Co. of London was founded in 1810 and became a giant in the music publishing industry and a household name appearing on music and instruments of all kinds, including pianos, harmoniums, and in the 1870s, organs. Chappell & Co. did not manufacture organs itself, but commissioned a standard range from one or more English makers and sold these under its own name.
The organ at Vaucluse c. 1873 stood for many years in St. Mary's Catholic Church, Newcastle. It was removed in 1933 by C. W. Leggo and relocated at Vaucluse. Drastic alterations were made to the case but the stop list remains original. The organ is an example of the model called "Drawing-Room Organ" of two manuals, pedals, nine stops and 374 pipes appearing in Chappell's catalogue of 1873-74.
The specification is:
Great to Pedal
Swell to Great
Swell to Pedal
From the 2010 OHTA Conference book, Dr Kelvin Hastie writes:
The Vaucluse Congregational Church was established as early as in 1839 in a building known as the South Head Independent Chapel, on South Head Road (at present street numbers. 212-14). It was known as the “Church with the Chimney”.
A Mission Hall called the 'Watsons Bay and South Head Congregational Church' was built on the corner of Robertson Place and Dunbar Street (the “Tin Tabernacle”) in 1891. The present church hall in Russell Street served as a church from 1909, until the present A-frame building was opened in 1960.i
The organ was sent to Australia in the early 1870s by Chappell & Co., of London and originally installed in St Mary’s Catholic Church, Newcastle. It was moved to Vaucluse in 1933, the installation being undertaken by C.W. Leggo.ii It was moved to the new church building in 1960.
Graeme Rushworth devotes a chapter of his monumental volume to Chappell & Co., referring to the firm’s principal operation as a music house, noting its fame as a publisher and retailer of musical instruments. The firm did not manufacture its own instruments, but rather subcontracted the work to established organbuilders, who had the task of mass-producing stock models: the Vaucluse instrument is a “Drawing Room Organ”, of two manuals, nine speaking stops and 374 pipes.iii While another organ supplied in 1872 by Chappell & Co. stood in St James’ Anglican Church, Wickham and from 1974 in All Saints’ Anglican Church, Belmont, it was sold in 1991 to Philip Matthias and is now in storage.iv
Both Rushworth and Stiller speculate that the Vaucluse instrument might have been built by Gray & Davison, as the bellows weights are marked JG (John Gray). It is also possible that these weights were recycled from other instruments.v The instrument remains largely intact and Stiller recorded that the ornately-carved lower casework, stopknobs, keyboards, keyboard cheeks, pedalboard, composition pedals, nameplate, swell shutter control, action, cone-tuned pipework and pitch had all survived. The following alterations, were, however noted:
The display pipe decorations have been covered with silver paint.
New timber panels have been fitted on the left hand side of the case.
Two pedals (not necessarily associated with the combination action) have been removed
The bellows has been converted from double to single rise.
The hand-blowing apparatus has been removed.
A tremulant has been added.
Stiller recorded the specification as follows:
Chappell & Co., c.1873 (2/8 mechanical)
- Open Diapason
- Lieblich Gedact
- Flute Harmonique
- Sw. Stopd. Treb
- Sw. Gamba
- Sw. Stop Bass
- Sw. Principal
- Ped. Bourdon
- Swell to Great
- Pedals to Great
- Sw. Octave Coupler
- Tremulant (not original)
- Mechanical action
- Compass 56/30
- Hitch-down Swell pedal
- 4 composition pedals
- Number of pipes = 374
- Pitch g#1 = 435 Hz
- Wind pressure = 63 mm (2-1/2 inches)
- * c0 – g3
- + Non original label
- # 12 pipes C-B
i www. woollahra.nsw.gov.au/library/local_history/local_history_fast_facts/v
ii Rushworth, 232.
iv Information supplied by David Evans to Mark Quarmby, 2006.
v John Stiller, “Uniting Church Russell Avenue Vaucluse NSW”. Documentation of Pipe Organ built by Chappell & Co. Organ Historical Trust of Australia, 7 March 1984.
Photos: Trevor Bunning April 2010