Former First Church of Christ Scientist

cnr Forbes and Liverpool Streets, Darlinghurst

J.E. Dodd, Adelaide, 1927
Addition 1929 Hill, Norman & Beard (Aust.) Pty Ltd
3 manuals, 39 speaking stops, tubular-pneumatic action
Rebuilt 1937 Whitehouse Bros, Brisbane
Addition 1961 [?Whitehouse Bros, Brisbane]
Overhauled 1979 Pitchford & Garside, Sydney
3 manuals, 40 speaking stops, electro-pneumatic action




First Church of Christ Scientist, Darlinghurst
[Photograph by Trevor Bunning (December 2008)]

Historical and Technical Documentation by Kelvin Hastie and Geoffrey Cox
© OHTA 1988, 2014 (last updated April 2014)


The First Church of Christ Scientist, Darlinghurst, was opened on 31 July 1927, superseding an earlier church in Riley Street, Darlinghurst. Built in the Interwar Beaux Arts style, the building is a major work by the noted Australian architect Samuel George Thorp, one of the founding partners of the well-known architectural firm, Peddle, Thorp and Walker.1 The design included an organ chamber behind a pierced screen, as well as a room for the organist and soloist.2 The building was dedicated, free of debt, in 1929.3 The church building was sold in 2010 into private ownership, at which time the congregation departed. The former auditorium space has been adapted for residential use, but the organ remains in situ.4



Interior of First Church of Christ Scientist, showing the pierced organ screen
[Photograph supplied by Robert Fox (September 2008)]

The large orchestral-style organ in this building must be considered one of the most important historic organs from the post World War I period in New South Wales. It is a late example of the work of J.E. Dodd of Adelaide. Whilst it is acknowledged that Dodd's best work stems from the period before World War I, his total output has been much misunderstood and poorly treated. There is considerable evidence to suggest that Dodd was a great master and that his work was greatly admired by organists of his time.

This organ was built late in J.E. Dodd's career, the contract being signed in 1925. A number of difficulties plagued the action and soundboards. Hill, Norman & Beard made some repairs in 1928-29, at which time the Chimes were added.5

It became necessary for the organ to be rebuilt in 1937 by Whitehouse Bros of Brisbane, with electro-pneumatic action, a new detached stopkey console and new soundboards.6 Dodd's drawstop console found its way to the organ of St Paul's Anglican Cathedral, Rockhampton, which Whitehouse Bros rebuilt in 1938. A Lieblich Bourdon 16ft was added to the Pedal department in 1961.7

The Whitehouse firm was noted for the durability of their mechanical work and this, coupled with the excellent tonal qualities of the Dodd pipework (much of it from Alfred Palmer & Sons), produced an organ of some distinction. Pitchford & Garside carried out a general overhaul of the organ in 1979, which included the fitting of a solid-state combination action and the completion of the compass of the Pedal Mixture. The firm made no changes to the specification.8





The 1937 Whitehouse console of the organ
[Photographs supplied by Robert Fox (September 2008)]

The stoplist is as follows:

Great
Double Open Diapason
Open Diapason, No. 1
Open Diapason, No. 2
Stopped Diapason
Claribel Flute
Octave
Harmonic Flute
Fifteenth
Tuba

Swell
Contra Viol
Open Diapason
Rohr Flute
Salicional
Voix Celeste
Octave
Harmonic Piccolo
Mixture
Contra Fagotta
Cornopean
Oboe
Tremulant

Choir (enclosed)
Lieblich Gedackt
Viol da Gamba
Dulciana
Viola
Flute
Corno di Bassetto
Orchestral Oboe
Vox Humana
Tuba
Chimes
Tremulant
Tuba Tremulant

Pedal
Acoustic Bass
Major Bass
Open Diapason
Bourdon
Lieblich Bourdon
Violone
Octave
Flute
Mixture
Trombone

16
8
8
8
8
4
4
2
8


16
8
8
8
8
4
2
V
16
8
8



8
8
8
4
4
8
8
8
8





32
16
16
16
16
16
8
8
III
16

B







A


D





















A
[added 1929]




C
C
B
E
[added 1961]
D
C
E

A

Couplers
Pedal Octave
Choir to Pedal
Choir Sub Octave
Choir Super Octave
Choir to Great
Choir Sub to Great
Choir Super to Great
Swell to Pedal
Swell Sub Octave
Swell Super Octave
Swell to Great
Swell Sub to Great
Swell Super to Great
Swell to Choir
Swell Sub to Choir
Swell Super to Choir
Great to Pedal

Great and Pedal combinations coupled
Swell to Pedal reversible thumb and toe piston
Great to Pedal reversible thumb and toe piston
Swell to Great reversible thumb and toe piston
Full Organ toe piston
5 pistons and 1 cancel piston to each manual
5 toe pistons and 1 cancel toe piston to Pedal

Electro-pneumatic action
Balanced swell pedals to Swell and Choir
Compass: 61/30.9


_____________________________

1 Graham Brooks & Associates Pty Ltd, Conservation Management Plan & Addendum, March 2013, cited March 2014 at
http://development.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/datasource/danotifications/1099734_013.pdf

2 The Sydney Morning Herald (9 March 1927), p. 11.

3 The Sydney Morning Herald (6 September 1929), p. 10.

4 Graham Brooks & Associates, op. cit.

5 Graeme D. Rushworth, Historic Organs of New South Wales (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1988), p. 194; 'Hill, Norman & Beard Australian Orders,' OHTA News, vol. 11, no. 2 (April 1987), p. 22.

6 Whitehouse Bros Ledger (1922-1940), p. 437; Rushworth, op. cit.

7 E. Pitchford, 'The Organ in the First Church of Christ Scientist . . . Sydney,' The Sydney Organ Journal, vo1. 10, no. 3 (June/July1979), pp. 34-35.

8 Pitchford, op. cit.

9 Rushworth, op. cit.; Pitchford, op. cit.; Additional information supplied by Robert Fox, one of the church's organists, March 2006.