Uniting (Methodist) Church
Liverpool Road, Ashfield

1912 Fred Taylor, Melbourne, 2 manuals, 12 sp. st., 4c., tub.pn.

From SOJ Spring 2006:

Dr Kelvin Hastie writes in "The Destruction of Diversity: Lost Sounds - Part II

Unlike tracker actions, which generally had to be successful to work in the first place, not all Australian tubularpneumatic actions of the 1900 -30 period were viable. With the poorer examples came a saga of ciphers, dead notes, slow response, lack of repetition and a tangle of lead tubing that was easily squashed if not laid out to avoid the feet of tuners and inquisitive organists. Some churches experienced problems with their instruments almost from the outset, the 1912 Frederick Taylor organ at the Ashfield Methodist Church being a typical example. The Trust Minute books for the period 1920-54 record:

(i) the engagement of A.J. Hunter to report on problems as early as 1922.
(ii) repairs by Charles Richardson costing £52/10/- carried out in 1924.
(iii) a quotation from W.L. Roberts for further repairs costing £123, received in 1925.
(iv) C.W. Leggo's quote of £105 for this further work accepted in 1926.
(v) Leggo's services replaced by those of S.T. Noad in 1940, and
(vi) Noad's quote to overhaul the organ for £265 was accepted in 1953.

It is difficult to argue that such an organ be scrupulously preserved against a backdrop of such constant problems. It is, of course, possible that the organ was serviced improperly after its installation and that the constant engagement of different builders to carry out work was not helpful in dealing with the various faults that arose in this organ.

The poor operation of an action should not be used, however, to dismiss totally the value of such instruments. I recall playing the Ashfield organ as a teenager and although barely operable, the artistry perceptible in its symphonic-style voicing was strongly evident in the lush (but not coarse) strings, liquid flutes and just two bright principals. Although one of the last examples of this Melbourne-builder's work surviving anywhere in Australia today, it is now totally unplayable, with many parts now missing or seriously damaged. Its specification (as recorded by John Stiller in his detailed documentation of July 1983) follows below to reveal a very rare example of late-Romantic/Symphonic tonal design, far more progressive than that of an equivalent Fincham or Whitehouse: all ranks are of full 61/32 compass (with no borrowing or common basses) and rich spotted metal is used throughout the compass of all metal ranks. One would hope that the instrument could be eventually reconstructed with a worthy tubular-pneumatic action, or very sensitively electrified so that the console components are retained and restored.

The specification is:

Open Diapason
Tibia Minor
Harmonic Flute

Contra Gamba
Hohl Flöte
Viol d'Orchestre
Geigen Principal
Closed Horn

Flute Dolce

Swell to Great
Swell Super Octave
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal




674 pipes
Pitch a=427 Hz at 15 degrees Celsius
Tubular-pneumatic action

An image, provided by John Maidment, of a comparable stopkey rail from an organ by Frederick Taylor that was
once at the Presbyterian Church, North Carlton, Melbourne.  This is a good deal larger but dates from the same period.

Photos: Trevor Bunning (Oct. 2007)