St Augustine's Anglican Church

Maude Street, Shepparton

Forster & Andrews, Hull, 1853
2 manuals, 13 speaking stops, mechanical action
Installed 1853 Athenaeum Hall, Melbourne
Installed 1855 St Mark's Anglican Church, Fitzroy
Additions c1867 William Anderson, Melbourne
Installed 1877 Methodist Church, Richmond
Rebuilt and installed in previous St Augustine's Church 1888 George Fincham, Melbourne
Installed in present church, 1927
2 manuals, 11 speaking stops, mechanical action
Broken up 1964




St Augustine's Anglican Church, Shepparton
[Photograph accessed at Australian Christian Church Histories
http://www.churchhistories.net.au]


Historical and Technical Documentation by Geoffrey Cox
© OHTA 2017, 2018 (last updated February 2018)1


The first Church of England service in Shepparton was held in 1875 in a private house at the corner of Welsford and High Streets. At the time, Shepparton was in the Archdeaconry of Beechworth in the Diocese of Melbourne, but it became part of the Diocese of Wangaratta when the latter was created in 1902. In 1882, a small brick church, designed by two parishioners, was built in Maude Street. Being found too small, it was sold in the early 1920s and subsequently demolished.2



The first St Augustine's Church, Shepparton, built in 1882
[Postcard [c.1907?]. National Museum Australia]

Land on the corner of McKinney and Maude Streets was purchased in 1922, and a new church was designed by the prominent Melbourne architect Louis Williams (1890-1980). The foundation stone was laid on 6 October 1926.3 The new church, which included an organ chamber to the north of the chancel, was dedicated on Wednesday 4 May 1927,4 although it stood incomplete for many years to come.



St Augustine's Church, Shepparton,
as it stood incomplete between 1927 and 1979
[Photograph: Rose Stereograph Co.
- State Library Victoria, Image H32492/8760]

The architect's design, which included a tower and spire over the north porch, was only partially realised, and the incomplete building was extended using a revised design in the early 1980s, with a new sanctuary, ambulatory and ancillary chapels.5

The pipe organ installed in St Augustine's Church in 1888 had served in three previous locations before arriving in Shepparton: the Athenaeum Hall, Melbourne; St Mark's Anglican Church, Fitzroy; and the Methodist Church, Richmond.

It was built by Forster & Andrews of Hull, reportedly the firm's first overseas contract, and was ordered in the early part of 1853 by Mr. J.T. Charlton of Melbourne.6

Although it has been presumed that the organ 'originally belonged' to Charlton, this may not have been the case.7 John T. Charlton of 13 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, was described in advertisements at the time as an auctioneer,8 and there is no evidence that he purchased the organ specifically for his own use. Indeed, this may possibly have been the instrument described in The Argus in January 1853 as follows:

Stubbs & Son are instructed by the importer to sell by public auction … A Family Concert Organ by one of the most eminent makers, very powerful tone, etc.9

The Forster and Andrews organ comprised 2 manuals and 12 speaking stops. It had a mahogany case of Grecian design, and two octaves of pedal pulldowns, but no pedal stop. Laurence Elvin described it as a residence organ and appears to have assumed that Charlton purchased it for his own residence:

Ten years after the establishment of their business, Forster and Andrews obtained their first overseas contract when Mr. J. T. Charlton, of Melbourne, Australia ordered a two manual chamber organ in the early part of 1853. This was their largest residence organ to date. There were two manual departments on one soundboard, totally enclosed, while the second manual was termed a Solo division. It is surprising to find no Pedal bourdon on a scheme of this size; there were merely two octaves of pedal pull-downs which could be slid into the case when not in use. The case was of solid mahogany to a Grecian design and the following was the specification:

Compass CC to G, 56 notes.

GREAT ORGAN
Bourdon
Teneroon
Open Diapason
Stopt Diapason bass
Stopt metal treble
Dulciana fid. G.
Principal
Fifteenth
Sesquialtera

SOLO ORGAN Ten. C to G.
Claribella
Stopt Flute
Viola di Gamba
Celestina
Oboe
ft
16
16
8
8
8
8
4
2
II rks


8
4
8
4
8
pipes
12
44
56
19
37
37
56
56
112


44
44
44
44
44





[from Ten G]
[from Ten G]








(Dulciana Principal)

Coupler. Swell to Great. 3 composition pedals. Two octaves of shifting pedals. Grecian design, solid mahogany case. Cost £200, plus £50.4.3 for cost of zinc lined packing cases and carriage to London. The charge for carriage was only £8.6.9!10

The organ was loaned for three months to the newly formed Philharmonic Society by Mr J.T. Charlton, and was used for the inaugural concert of the Society on 24 December 1853 at the Mechanics' Institution, Collins Street, Melbourne - later known as the Melbourne Athenaeum. The work performed was Handel's Messiah.11 A contemporary account of the organ appeared in The Argus (23 December) as follows:

PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY. - The organ. - This instrument, the erection of which has occupied Mr Smith, the organ builder, for the last three weeks, was built by Messrs Forster and Andrews of Hull. It is the property of Mr. J. T. Charlton and is lent to the Society for three months. It has fifteen stops, with three composition pedals, for working [the various] combinations of them. There are two rows of manuals and two octaves of pedals. The total number of pipes is 649, and they are disposed: [with] fifteen stops as follows: - Great organ (compass CC to G in alt) – Bourdon CCC 12 pipes, Teneroon CC 44, Open Diapason, all metal, CC 56. Stopt Diapason, Bass and Treble, 56, Dulciana 37, Principal 56, Fifteenth 56, Mixture 112, Total 429. Solo organ upper range of manual (compass Ten C to G) - Claribella, Stopt Flute, Viola di Gamba, Celestina, Oboe, 44 each and a Couplet. The largest pipes are eight feet long, they are the Bourdon CC of wood and the Open Diapason CC, of metal. The smallest pipes C in alt is only five-eighths of an inch in length. The case is a handsome mahogany one and the external dimensions in front are eleven feet seven inches by nine feet ten inches. The organ is now nearly completed and will be opened on Saturday night on the occasion of the performance of the "Messiah" by members of the Society. Mr Ashton, organist of the Wesleyan Chapel, will preside.12

The organ remained for around a year at the Athenaeum, before tenders were called on Saturday 23 December 1854 to have it installed in St Mark's, Collingwood (now Fitzroy):

To Organ Builders. - Tenders will be received on Tuesday next, for Building, &c an Organ in St. Mark's Church, Collingwood. Particulars may be obtained from the Sexton, near the church.13

Some controversy surrounded the acquisition of the instrument by St Mark's. A letter dated 29 March 1855 to R.E. Wallen, Chairman of the Melbourne Stock Exchange, reveals that it appears to have been installed in the church without the authority of the Trustees:

Dear Sir, I acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 14th instant respecting the organ recently erected in the church. . . . The Trustees were no party to the purchase of the organ. The arrangement made respecting it was made not only irrespective of them – but with[out] their sanction – while the matter was being negotiated it was mentioned to the B. committee and Mr Clowes stated that he merely wished them to pay towards it what they would have to pay for the small organ then in use – what was £100 and exps. which they agreed to do.14

Church receipts from Henry John Izard, the Church Sexton, for 'putting up organ and removing the same' (July 1855) and for 'balance of account for erecting organ' (October 1855) suggest that it was erected in the church by Izard himself.15

An account in The Church of England Record (1859) describes the organ as 'very indifferent' and gives the position of the organ and choir 'at the south end' of the building:

At the south end of the building, is a very indifferent organ, on a raised platform, also a gallery for the choir on the right.16

The tuning of the instrument had been entrusted by May 1857 to Jesse Biggs who provided a receipt in December 'for ½ years tuning of St Mark's organ - commenced May 27th',17 but Mr J.H. Allen, who was organist for a period in 1857, complained in January 1858 that the instrument had been tuned only twice during the previous six months, and that it was in a disgraceful state:

… I beg to state that from the beginning of last July to the present time, the organ of St Mark's Church has been tuned twice. . . . it is now in a more disgraceful state than I have ever know any instrument to be, both as regards the pipes and the action. Some of the notes will not speak at all; others (I suppose by way of compensation), say a good deal too much. . . . I have seen Mr Biggs frequently of late, and have told him of the state of the organ; he has promised on every occasion to attend to it, and as we all know, has always broken word.18

Biggs's care of the organ was obviously not sustained, and accounts were received again from H.J Izard for repairs and tuning between 1858 and 1862.19 J.H. Allen was replaced as organist by Thomas Oates in 1857, and in turn by Thomas Curtis around February 1859.20 Curtis described the organ, in a letter dated 17 February 1859, as 'insufficient for St Mark's Church' and suggested that a subscription be opened for the purchase of a new instrument. He was dismissed in 1860 on account of having commenced the subscription without the sanction of the Trustees!21 An application was made by the Church Trustees to the Council of the Diocese in 1864 for assistance in funding the erection of an organ gallery, but the application was not supported.22

The Report of the Churchwardens for 1866 records that consideration was being given to 'repairing the organ now in use rather than purchasing a new one' and that 'Mr Summers M.B. Oxon has most kindly offered to superintend the alterations'.23 Joseph Summers was at that time Organist of St John's, Toorak, and he re-opened the Fitzroy organ on 28 April 1867 after it had been restored by William Anderson at a cost of £100:

St Mark's Church, Fitzroy.

The organ at this church, built by Forster and Andrews, was reopened by Divine Service on the 28th April. Mr. J. Summers MB. Oxon was the organist, and proved to the congregation that the sum of £100 had been most advantageously laid out on its restoration.24

A report written two years later reveals that Anderson had added a new Principal and a Bourdon:

The organ - a very old one, and formerly the property of the Philharmonic Society - is built by Forster and Andrews, Hull, and has this peculiarity - it has two ranks of keys, but instead of having an independent swell organ the whole is encased in a general swell box with the ordinary venetian shutters. The effect to be produced by such an arrangement may certainly be questioned. The organ, however, has good points, it is excellently voiced, and its tone is very sweet. Mr. Anderson, organ builder, has added a new principal, and a bourdon, the latter in volume of tone being perhaps the best we have heard here, and closely approximating a sixteen foot stop. The teneroon and viol di gamba are also very excellent.25

There was a payment on 16 March 1869 to 'Mr Carey' for 'guilding organ pipes,' and payments to William Anderson for tuning between October 1870 and December 1872.26

The organ was replaced at St Mark's in 1877 with a new organ by William Anderson, and was sold (by Anderson) to the Methodist Church, Richmond.27 Called upon to care for the instrument at Richmond, Fincham described its condition in 1880 in less than favourable terms:

27 April 1880. Letter to Mr T.H. Trengrove. I have examined the organ in the Wesleyan Church Richmond and find it is the old organ out of St. Mark's Church. The soundboard is very unsound and the pipes, with the exception of a few new ones, are very old. I beg to decline giving a price either for annual care or single visit.28

Eventually, in March 1888, Fincham provided a new organ for the Richmond Church,29 and sold the Forster & Andrews organ to St Augustine's, Shepparton.

Writing to R.S. Gregson of Shepparton in February 1888, he offered the old Forster & Andrews organ second-hand, and described the poor condition of the instrument. He proposed to rebuild it with a new soundboard for the manual stops, dividing the Stopped Diapason at Tenor C, and extending the Dulciana down to Tenor C. The 2-rank Sesquialtera and Oboe appear to have been removed by this time, although Fincham made provision for them to be added. The compass of the stops on the second manual (designated 'Solo') remained at 44 notes, but the number of stops on this manual appears to have been reduced from five to four. Fincham proposed to convert the 12-note Bourdon into an independent Pedal stop, permanently coupled to the Great and winded from the manual soundboard:

Letter dated 21 February 1888 to R.S. Gregson, Shepparton. --- in reply send the following;- The width of the second hand organ under offer is 8-10, depth 6-6-1/2, height 11-7. The organ contains:

Great
Open Dia
St. Bass
Stopd Treble
Dulc.
Prin
Fifteenth
Tenoroon [sic]

8ft
8ft
8ft
8ft
4ft
2ft
16ft

56
19
37
37
56
56
44
 

The Great is also prepared for a 2 rnk Mixt.

The upper manual is called solo and contains:

Solo
Clarabella
Viol d'gamba
Flute

8ft
8ft
4ft

44
44
44
 

The Solo is prepared for an Oboe 44 pipes.

Pedal
Bourdon

16ft

12 pipes.
 

The Bourdon is winded from the manual soundboard.

Coupler
Solo to Great.

The whole of the above, Great and Solo is on one Swell box and is on one soundboard divided at Tenor C, for the Swell stops.
The Great is coupled permanently to the Pedals.
Three composition pedals to the Great organ.
Case of mahogany and in good order, 23 dummy front pipes, gilt.
I will erect the organ in the Church of Eng. Shepparton for the sum of £170.

… I may inform you that as I intend remaking the soundbd action (I may say the pipes are in fair condition) I can safely advise you to purchase it. In this organ you will have a useful instrument about twice as much as you could hope to get for the money in a new organ of a single manual. . . . The organ will be available in about 5 or 6 weeks. . . . There is one alteration that I would advise and that is, in remaking the soundboard instead of separating the bass of the St. Dia from the Treble, which is done by cutting the slide at G above Ten C, the object of which is to produce a bass for the Dulciana taken from G down to C, another 7 pipes, the cost would not exceed £10 and it would modernise the organ considerably and be much more acceptable to the ear.30

The Forster & Andrews organ, rebuilt by Fincham, was opened at St Augustine's on 6 October 1888,31 and went on to serve the parish for three-quarters of a century, albeit with continuing problems.



The Forster & Andrews Organ at Shepparton, c.1895*
[Photograph courtesy of Wangaratta Diocesan Archives,
Charles Sturt University, Wagga, NSW]

In a report enclosed with a letter of 26 November 1902 to Arthur Whitehead, Hon. Secretary of St Augustine's Choir, Shepparton, Fincham commented further on the condition of the organ:

I have examined the organ and beg to report that the instrument has been allowed to get into a very unsatisfactory state through want of attention. The action requires a complete overhaul especially the Swell which is almost unplayable. The keys are loose on front and balance pins, some in the Swell have case and cause cypherings. The Ped Bourdon 12 pipes are connected to both manuals, AA cyphering through unsound pallet. There are 'runnings' in the Great soundboard. The Swell and Great trunks are unsound, and wind escapes from the bellows in several places. The case requires fixing and staying to make it more firm than at present. The organ requires cleaning throughout. The Great rackboards require fixing so that the pipes can stand upright. The pipes are in very fair condition, but dirty. Four ivories are missing from Swell keys.32

By the time the specification below (undated) was recorded, the Teneroon had been renamed "Double Diapason" and a Flageolette 2ft had been supplied on the spare slide originally occupied by the Oboe:


1.
2.
3.

4.
5.
6.
7.



8.
9.
10.
11.

12.
GREAT ORGAN
Double Diapason
Open diapason
Stopped diapason bass
Stopped diapason treble
Dulciana
Principal
Fifteenth
Mixture
swell to great

SWELL ORGAN
Claribella
Bell Gamba
Flute
Flageolette

Pedal: Bourdon

16
8
8
8
8
4
2
II rks



8
8
4
2

16
7 stops
TC metal; small scale

CC-TC
TC top 2-1/2 octaves with chimneys
TC


prep.


4 stops. (all to Tenor C)
TC
TC
TC
TC

(12 notes only)

Pedal-board permanently coupled to the great organ

Organ is entirely enclosed in a general swell-box.
tracker action; slider soundboards
black metal pipework
3 composition pedals
trigger swell lever
dummy pipe-front; mahogany case
attached drawknob console
Compass: 56/30. SF pedals.33

The instrument was broken up in 1964, the pipework sold, and the windchest and action burnt. The mahogany casework remained in place, housing an electronic instrument, until about 1970. It was subsequently dismantled and stored, but has since been broken up.34

_______________________________________________________________________________

1. An earlier version of this account appeared in OHTA News, vol. 42, no. 3 (July 2017), pp. 24-29.

2. Victorian Heritage Citation Report, Hermes No. 111933 (18 July 2013) – accessed October 2016 at http://dsewebapps.dse.vic.gov.au; see also: F.W. Grutzner and Raymond West, A brief history of St. Augustine's Church of England Shepparton: 1876-1968 (Shepparton, Vic: [The Parish], 1968).

3. Victorian Heritage Citation Report, op. cit.

4. The Shepparton Advertiser (5 May 1927), p. 9.

5. Parish centenary history. St Augustine's Shepparton 1882-1982; Victorian Heritage Citation Report, op. cit.

6. Laurence Elvin, Forster and Andrews: Their Barrel, Chamber and Small Church Organs (Lincoln: Laurence Elvin, 1976), p. 77.

7. E.N. Matthews, Colonial Organs and Organbuilders (Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 1969), p. 134.

8. The Argus (16 February 1853), p. 3, and elsewhere.

9. The Argus (28 January 1853), p. 1.

10. Laurence Elvin, op. cit., p. 77.

11. W.A. Carne, A Century of Harmony: The Official Centenary History of the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Society (Melbourne: RMPS, 1954), pp. 25-26.

12. The Argus (23 December 1853), p. 5, col. 5.

13. The Argus (23 Dec 1854), p. 8.

14. cited in Fincham/Matthews Collection, D.8 'Loose Papers'.

15. Receipts dated 23 July 1855 and 3 October 1855 respectively, cited in Fincham/Matthews Collection, "Notes" D21.

16. 'St Mark's Collingwood,' in The Church of England Record for the Diocese of Melbourne (December 1859), p. 132.

17. Receipt dated 11 December 1857 and Account dated 21 December 1857, cited in Fincham/Matthews Collection, "Notes" D22, D4.

18. Letter dated 4th January 1858 from J.H. Allen to Rev. Clowes, cited in Fincham/Matthews Collection, "Notes" or "Loose Papers" D8.

19. Fincham/Matthews Collection, "Notes" D14, D4.

20. Fincham/Matthews Collection, "Notes" D1, D4, D23.

21. Loc. cit. D9, D4, D17.

22. Loc. cit. D17.

23. Loc. cit. D6.

24. The Melbourne Church News (1 May 1867), p. 140.

25. 'Church Music in Victoria: St Mark's Church, Fitzroy,' The Weekly Times (11 September 1869), p. 6.

26. St Mark's Cash Book (January 1863- June 1897), p. 80, 96, 102, 110, 118, cited in Fincham/Matthews Collection, "Notes" D18.

27. Matthews, pp. 135, 146.

28. Fincham Letter Book 3 (1878-84), p. 203 – cited in Fincham/Matthews Collection, Vol. 1.

29. Matthews, pp. 146, 176.

30. Fincham Letter Book 6 (1888-90), p. 60 – cited in Fincham/Matthews Collection, Vol. 2.

31. Matthews, p. 176.

32. Fincham Letter Book 19 (1902-04), p. 26 – cited in Fincham/Matthews Collection, Vol. 5.

33. Details recorded by Mr Albert Reis (on staff of Hill, Norman & Beard, Clifton Hill), and provided to J. Maidment (n.d.).

34. Robert Heatley, 'Organs of Shepparton - Past & Present,' Victorian Organ Journal (February 1997), pp. 17-24.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

* The author acknowledges the assistance of The Revd Clarence Bester, Associate Rector of St Augustine's, Shepparton, and Mr Timothy Williams, Wangaratta Diocesan Registrar, for their part in locating the photograph (c.1895) of the Forster & Andrews organ in the Wangaratta Diocesan Archives. The finely dressed lady at the console is thought possibly to be Miss Flo Vibert.