St Bartholomew's Anglican Church

(now closed for worship)

cnr Prospect Highway & Ponds Road, Prospect

Built by G.M. Holdich, London c.1851-55
Organ vandalized and removed c.1968
1 manual, 9 speaking stops, 1 coupler, mechanical action

St Bartholomew's Anglican Church, Prospect, NSW: exterior
[Photograph by Tony Maston (29 May 1937) – courtesy of Holroyd City Council Library]

Historical and Technical Documentation by John Maidment
© OHTA 2014 (last updated February 2014)

For many years, St Bartholomew's Church at Prospect, west of Parramatta, housed a fascinating organ built by George Maydwell Holdich, the eminent London organbuilder. It would have been built between 1851 and 1855, when his premises were located at 4 Judd Place, East New Road, Kings Cross London. Holdich was born in 1816 and was educated at Uppingham and the University of Cambridge, training as an organbuilder in London with James Chapman Bishop. For a time he shared factory space with Henry Bevington and it is interesting that Alfred Fuller, the Melbourne organbuilder, had been a pupil of Holdich, who died in 1896.1 He also built the first organ for Christ Church St Laurence in Sydney, later destroyed by fire, and a barrel organ for Albany, WA.

George Maydwell Holdich
[Photograph from the collection of John Maidment]

The Holdich organ was given in March 1856 to St Paul's Anglican Church, Redfern by Charles Kemp, a prominent Anglican layman, journalist, politician and businessman.2 It was installed at Prospect in 1889 and we are fortunate that excellent black & white photographs were taken of the church on 29 May 1937 by Tony Maston and left to the Holroyd City Council Library.3

Sadly the church, built 1838-1840, and designed by Henry Robertson, was subjected to vandalism and closed in 1967; the organ was seriously damaged. The organ parts were dismantled in the late 1960s and stored with a Mr Filmer, of Blacktown. Some remnants still exist, such as wooden pipework.

A fire took place on 4 November 1989 well after the organ had been removed. The building was restored from early 2000 and reopened in January 2001 although it is no longer used for worship.

St Bartholomew's Anglican Church, Prospect, NSW: interior showing the organ
[Photograph by Tony Maston (29 May 1937) – courtesy of Holroyd City Council Library]

It was a delightful instrument in every way, with splendid classical-style casework, fretted pipeshades and even boasted a Trumpet stop.

A description of the organ was provided for the Gazetteer of NSW Pipe Organs in January 1971 by Robert Wallace:

[The organ has] a number of unusual features [which] made this little instrument of historical value, e.g. the manual compass was CC-C 61 notes. A small scale Trumpet itself would commend such an organ, and the upper work to the treble division. The case of 3 open flats containing an array of dummy metal pipes painted pale blue (allowing for the fading factor) with gilt trim was very pleasing. The manual keyboard slides outwards and then back into the case after use. … The drawstops had square shanks and script lettering to the plates – arranged on side flush jambs. The Pedal clavier although not retractable in the same way as the manual was still easily detachable from its coupling – obviously Holdich had it designed in mind for a small chapel, the pedal compass was 1½ octaves, and the Bourdon was of a narrow scale…

The Sydney Diocesan authorities are very vague about the organ – officially so. The Rector of Blacktown Parish within which the Prospect church had been placed declines to comment. The Sydney branch of the National Trust (the church has been classified by them) do not wish to be drawn into the matter. The County of Cumberland authority has bleakly referred me to the Greater Sydney Planning Authority who begged me to query the Diocesan Authority.

The specification was recorded as:

Open Diapason
Stopd Diapason
Manual to Pedal coupler




4 composition pedals
Lever swell pedal
Hand blowing lever
Mechanical action

1 See Marie & Michael Higginbottom, G.M. Holdich 1816-1896 (Holdich Family History Society, 2003) and B.B. Edmonds 'Once Upon a Time' in The Organ Club Handbook no 6 (The Organ Club, c.1961) pp.42-57 for further information on Holdich.

2 Graeme Rushworth, A Supplement to Historic Organs of New South Wales (Camberwell, Vic.: OHTA, 2006, p.58.

3 I am indebted to Jane Elias, Local Studies Librarian, Holroyd City Council for the provision of this material.

St Bartholomew's Anglican Church, Prospect, NSW: a surviving wooden pipe from the Flute 4
[Photograph by Jill Finch (2 February 2014)]