First Church of Christ Scientist

St Kilda Road, South Melbourne

Built 1927 Henry Willis & Sons Ltd, London
3 manuals, 33 speaking stops, 20 couplers, electro-pneumatic action

 



First Church of Christ Scientist, South Melbourne – exterior view
(photograph by Simon Colvin [May 2007])

Historical and Technical Documentation by John Maidment
© OHTA, 2007 (last updated February 2018)

 

This is the first church of the Christian Science religion in Victoria, based on the amphitheatre form used by the denomination in the United States of America, and developed in a distinctive version of the 'Neo-Grec' style of contemporary Britain. The church was built in 1920 to the design of Harold Dumsday of Bates Peebles & Smart and opened in 1922. Standard Greek Revival elements like criss-cross grillework are belied by the central dome and the giant Diocletian windows, which suggest a Byzantine character. The surviving hydraulic lift is of considerable technical interest.1 The building remains in a remarkable state of originality, retaining all of its fittings and decoration.



First Church of Christ Scientist, South Melbourne – interior showing the organ behind the grilles
(photograph by Simon Colvin [May 2007])

The organ was built in 1927 by the noted London firm of Henry Willis & Sons Ltd and was erected by Thomas L. Colmer, a representative of the firm, who then proceeded to Brisbane to work on the City Hall organ.  It remains almost completely unaltered from the original.  With three manuals and thirty-three stops it is sited behind two grilles in masonry chambers.  The instrument is of romantic-symphonic design and incorporates outstanding examples of flue and reed voicing and is one of only two new examples of the firm's twentieth-century work in Australia, the other being at Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral, Wangaratta, Vic.  It is of great tonal distinction, retaining the whole of its pipework, action, pitman windchests and elegant detached console with ivory fittings, influenced by the work of E.M. Skinner in the United States.

GREAT
Lieblich Bordun
Open Diapason No 1
Open Diapason No 2
Clarabella
Principal
Flûte Ouverte
Nazard
Fifteenth
Swell to Great Sub Octave 16
Swell to Great *
Swell to Great Octave 4
Solo to Great Sub Octave 16
Solo to Great *
Solo to Great Octave 4

SWELL
Geigen Diapason
Rohr Flute
Salicional
Vox Angelica
Octave Geigen
Flûte Triangulaire
Mixture
Waldhorn
Cornopean
Oboe
Tremolo
Swell Sub Octave 16
Swell Octave 4
Swell Unison Off

SOLO
Violoncello
Violon Celeste
Orchestral Flute
Echo Dulciana
Flûte Harmonique
Clarinet
Vox Humana
Tremolo
Tromba
Solo Sub Octave 16
Solo Octave 4
Solo Unison Off
Swell to Solo Sub Octave 16
Swell to Solo *
Swell to Solo Octave 4

PEDAL
Resultant Bass
Open Bass
Sub Bass
Octave
Flute
Octave Flute
Trombone
Solo to Pedal *
Great to Pedal * •
Swell to Pedal *
Solo to Pedal 4
Swell to Pedal 4

16
8
8
8
4
4
2-2/3
2








8
8
8
8
4
4
3 rks
16
8
8






8
8
8
8
4
8
8

8








32
16
16
8
8
4
16






A


















TC












(enclosed except Tromba)

TC






B








A
C
A
C
A
A
B





Great & Pedal Combs Coupled

Compass: 61/32
5 Thumbs Pistons each to Great, Swell & Solo
5 Toe Pistons
* duplicated by Thumb Pistons
• duplicated by Toe Piston
Setter Piston2

 

The Great, Swell & Pedal (including Tromba/Trombone unit) are located behind the grille at the rear of the Rostrum/Platform. The Solo is located beneath the rostrum/platform and speaks through the grille at the front.

 


1 Victorian Churches, p.87; The Argus (14 October 1925), p.12

2 Details of the organ given in The Rotunda, vol 1, no 4 (April 1927), pp.32-33

 




First Church of Christ Scientist, South Melbourne – console
(photograph by Simon Colvin [May 2007])




First Church of Christ Scientist, South Melbourne – left-hand stop jamb
(photograph by Simon Colvin [May 2007])




First Church of Christ Scientist, South Melbourne – right-hand stop jamb
(photograph by Simon Colvin [May 2007])




First Church of Christ Scientist, South Melbourne – Solo pipework
(photograph by Simon Colvin [May 2007])




First Church of Christ Scientist, South Melbourne – Great pipework
(photograph by John Maidment [September 2017])




First Church of Christ Scientist, South Melbourne – Tromba and swell shutters
(photograph by Simon Colvin [May 2007])




First Church of Christ Scientist, South Melbourne – interior showing the dome
(photograph by Simon Colvin [May 2007])




First Church of Christ Scientist, South Melbourne – interior looking towards the rear
(photograph by Simon Colvin [May 2007])




First Church of Christ Scientist, South Melbourne – main foyer
(photograph by Simon Colvin [May 2007])