Uniting (formerly St Andrew's Presbyterian) Church

Main Street, Scone

Estey Organ Co., Vermont, USA, 1912
Installed 1918. Electrified 1984 Brown & Arkley, Sydney
2 manuals, 9 speaking stops, 7 couplers, electro-pneumatic action

The Uniting Church, Scone
[Photograph by Trevor Bunning (September 2007)]

Historical and Technical Documentation by Kelvin Hastie
© OHTA 2015, 2016 (last updated January 2016)


The 1912 Estey organ at the Uniting Church, Scone
[Photograph by Trevor Bunning (September 2007)]

The original Presbyterian Church in Scone was opened in 1873 and was superseded by the present church, the foundation stone of which was laid on 4th May 1911 by the Rev. John Ferguson. The opening of the present building was described in The Maitland Weekly Mercury, as follows:

Among the new buildings of which the neat little town of can boast is the Presbyterian Church, the most recent and very valuable addition to the Hunter Presbytery properties, standing on an acre of ground, the gift or Mr. W. Bakewell, and adjoining the fine brick manse. The new church is constructed of brown bricks from Waratah, with double pressed brick mouldings from Strathfield. The foundations are of reinforced concrete and the roof is covered with purple Welsh slates. The interior walls are finished in tuck pointed brickwork. The roof is on the hammer beam principle, lined on the rafters, and to half way up the height with Cypress pine, the hammer beams and ribs are of Oregon. At the east end is a recessed archway, containing a raised dais, with the pulpit at the north. The seating is so arranged that everyone can see and hear without effort. A vestry 20 feet by 10 feet, with the provision for a future organ chamber, is included. . . . The approach is on the south west corner, and there is another porch on the north side, and separate entries tor the choir and vestry, so that the place can be emptied very quickly. The seating accommodation is for about 250. A belfry rises over the main entrance. Ventilation is provided by a large number of Tobin tubes, supplying fresh air, and corresponding outlets are arranged in the ceiling with exhaust tubes. The windows open amply for summer ventilation, and are glazed in tinted muffled glass in lead lights. The work has been well and faithfully carried out by Messrs. McNaughton and Sons, of Newcastle, under the supervision of the architects, Messrs. Power & Adam of Sydney. . . . Mrs J. R. Fleming, of Kelvinside, was presented with a neatly designed silver key with which she unlocked the door, and in opening the building, referred with pleasure to the Rev. P. Norman's 25 years ministry in the Scone parish.1

The Uniting Church, Scone: church exterior
[Photograph by Trevor Bunning (September 2007)]

The pipe organ was ordered in 1912 from the Estey Organ Co., of Brattleboro, Vermont, USA, by W.H. Paling & Co. Limited, of Sydney. While the Estey firm exported many thousands of reed organs to Australia in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries (and many through the agency of W.H. Paling & Co.), its work in building some 3,000 pipe organs between 1901 and 1960 is not as widely known in this country.

The builder's nameplate and the retailer's stamp on the console at Scone
[Photographs by Trevor Bunning (September 2007)]

Estey's pipe organ division was first managed by William E. Haskell (1865-1927), famous for his invention of the "Haskell bass", whereby flue tone is produced by pipes of half-length by means of a smaller diameter tube within the pipe.2 (There are examples of the Haskell bass in the Scone organ, most interestingly in the metal tubes inserted in the wooden pipes of the Great Melodia 8). From 1955 Estey's pipe organ division was managed by Georg Friedrich Steinmeyer (1924-2015), of the famous Bavarian family of organbuilders. At this time the firm formed a short-term alliance with Rieger Orgelbau, and Estey built its last instruments in an Orgelbewegung style, quite different from its conservative Romantic style of earlier years.3 The firm's last pipe organ was built in 1960 for All Angel's Episcopal Church, West 80th Street, New York City.4

Four Estey pipe organs were exported to Australia, of which only the Scone instrument survives. An eleven rank Estey theatre organ (Opus 591) was ordered for the Crystal Palace Theatre, George Street, Sydney, in 1908, but this was destroyed by fire in 1921.5 Estey Opus 590 (1908) was built for the Catholic Church of Mary Immaculate and St Athanasius, Manly, but was rebuilt in 1966 and broken up in 1970.6 Opus 1171 (1913) was supplied to St Stephen's Uniting (Presbyterian) Church, Toowoomba, Queensland, and later rebuilt and enlarged, but was damaged by fire in 1989 and later removed.7

The Scone instrument, Opus 1036, has the shop order date of 15 August 1912, and is described as being "Style A 4-4-1", a clear reference to the number of speaking stops in each division. The instrument was initially designed to have two additional couplers ("Gt. Uni. Sep." and "Sw. Uni. Sep."), and possessed case design "A", made in oak with "No.2" finish, with bronzed front pipes. The instrument was hand blown and the key coverings were in celluloid. (Much of this valuable information comes from the Estey website and its opus list, compiled by Ed Boadway, a luminary of the Organ Historical Society of the United States.8)

The instrument was not installed at Scone until 1918: it may have served temporarily in another location, or had stood on the showroom floor of W.H. Paling & Co., alongside the many reed organs stocked by the firm: its location between 1912 and 1918 therefore requires further research. The Scone Advocate describes the dedication of the organ by the Revd P. Norman and the opening recital, given on 2 September 1918, by Miss Madge Smith, of East Maitland.9 An inscription above the console reads 'Dedicated to our Soldiers'.

Dedication on the 1912 Estey organ at the Uniting Church, Scone
[Photograph by Trevor Bunning (September 2007)]

In 1985 the organ was documented by John Stiller, who noted its renovation in 1974 by Fr John Hamer-Howorth and its repositioning in the transept. The action was electrified in 1984 by Brown & Arkley of Sydney, but most of the Estey console fittings were retained. An exception was the original keysets, which were removed at this time, along with the Great and Swell "Unison Separation" couplers, which sat on the right-hand key cheeks of both sets.10 Stiller commented on the interesting pipe forms in the organ, notably the Oboe (from c0), which comprises keenly-voiced flue pipes with cylindrical bodies for the lower half of their speaking length and tapered for the upper half. He also noted that the Open Diapason has leathered upper lips in the range f0 – c12 and that the Melodia, in addition to its Haskell bass, possesses open wood pipes with inverted mouths and narrow scale from c0.11

The Estey organ when it was located in the transept
[Photograph provided by William Fraser (date unknow)]

The sound of this modest organ is remarkable. Its voicing is uniformly excellent, the strings and flutes being especially distinctive, while the labial Oboe reveals tonal finishing of a high order. While the instrument has no principals above 8-foot pitch, the harmonic development of the other ranks provides an ensemble that is bright and clear and well able to lead congregational singing in this small country church.

The instrument has been played by some long-serving local organists, including Mrs A.D. MacCallum (who served in the years 1931-59), followed by Mrs Joan Mannell until the 1980s: Mrs Mannell operated an extensive music studio in Scone and had been a pupil of Dr Charles Jarman, organist of All Saints' Singleton, who made regular visits to Scone to teach choirs and train organists.12 The present organist is Mrs Anne Martin.

The specification of the organ is:

Gr. Open Diapason
Gr. Melodia
Gr. Dulciana
Gr. Flute d'Amour

Sw. Salicional
Sw. Stopped Diapason
Sw. Flute Harmonic
Sw. Oboe [labial]
Swell Tremolo


Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Swell to Great
Swell to Great 4'
Swell to Great 16'
Swell to Swell 4'
Swell to Swell 16'




Electro-pneumatic action
Total number of pipes: 506
Pitch A= 440 Hz at 250C
Wind pressure 95mm
Compass 61/30
Balanced Swell Pedal13 

Console details of the 1912 organ
[Photographs by Trevor Bunning (September 2007)]

Uniting Church, Scone: interior pipework
[photograph by John Maidment (2 October 2014)]

1 The Maitland Weekly Mercury, 5 November 1911, 12.  Information supplied by John Maidment, 21 June 2015 and C.A. White, The Challenge of the Years: A History of the Presbyterian Church in the State of New South Wales (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1951), p. 406.  Further note: In 1908 John Sulman retired from the partnership of Sulman & Power, and Adam was invited to join. The partnership, known as Power & Adam and later Power, Adam & Munnings, survived until 1937. http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/discover_collections/people_places/north/architects/docs/north_shore_houses.pdf. Accessed by Kelvin Hastie, 6 September 2015.

2 Graeme Rushworth, Historic Organs of New South Wales (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1988), p. 236.

3 "Obituaries: Georg Friedrich Steinmeyer", The Tracker, vol. 59, no. 3 (Summer 2015), p. 39. Also Rieger and Estey advertisement, The American Organist, vol. 38, no. 10 (October 1955), p. 294.

4 http://www.esteyorgan.com/opuslist.html. Accessed by Kelvin Hastie, 6 September 2015. 

5 http://www.theatreorgansaust.info/pdf_docs/Crystal%20Palace%20Sydney.pdf.  Information researched by Rod Blackmore. Accessed by Kelvin Hastie, 6 September 2015.

6 http://www.esteyorgan.com/opuslist.html, ibid. See also Rushworth, Historic Organs, p. 236.

7 Information researched by Geoffrey Cox. Accessed by Kelvin Hastie, 5 September 2015.

8 http://www.esteyorgan.com/opuslist.html, ibid.

9 "Presbyterian Church Scone – Unveiling of Organ", The Scone Advocate (6 September 1918), p. 2.

10 John Stiller, "Documentation of Pipe Organ built by Estey Organ Co. 1918".  Organ Historical Trust of Australia, 15 February 1985, p. 2.  Information on the Unison Separation Couplers supplied by William Fraser, Canberra, 19 December 2015.

11 Ibid.

12 Information supplied by William Fraser, Canberra, 19 December 2015.

13 Stiller, p. 2.