Tamworth City Uniting (formerly Wesley Methodist) Church

cnr Marius & Bourke Streets, Tamworth

W.G. Rendall, Sydney, 1923-24
Rebuilt with additions 1926 Whitehouse Bros, Brisbane
2 manuals, tubular-pneumatic action
Rebuilt, electrified and enlarged 1976 Whitehouse Bros, Brisbane
2 manuals, 16 speaking stops, electro-pneumatic action

Tamworth City Uniting Church, Tamworth
[Photograph by Trevor Bunning (September 2007)]

Historical and Technical Documentation by Geoffrey Cox
© OHTA 2014 (last updated April 2014)

The first Methodist service in Tamworth was conducted in 1859. Services were held for a time in the Court House and later in the Mechanics' Institute, before the foundation stone for the Wesleyan Church was laid on 24 October 1871.1 The church was opened in September 1872, and enlarged in the mid 1880s. The the roof was replaced in slate in the early 1900s and the interior renovated in the mid 1900s.2

By May 1910, plans had been developed for a 'new Methodist Church' at a cost of about £3,000, to accommodate 500 people. Eighteen designs were received, and the design of Messrs. Ranclaud and Thomas of Tamworth was accepted.3 It is unclear whether this was a renovation of the old church or a completely new one, but the resolve to build the new church was noted again in August that year.4

The organ at Tamworth City Uniting Church
[Photographs by Trevor Bunning (September 2007)]

During the time of the Rev. Samuel W. Bonnor (from 1921), a scheme was launched for the installation of a pipe organ in connection with the Jubilee celebrations.5 The contract for the organ was secured in 1923 by Walter George Rendall of Sydney, who was then in his 70th year. Rendall proceeded to build the organ in 1923-24, but early problems led to its being rebuild by Whitehouse Bros of Brisbane.6 Graeme Rushworth observes that Rendall's case was retained without alteration.7

The 1926 plaque on the organ
[Photograph by Trevor Bunning (September 2007)]

The organ was opened and dedicated on 21 August 1926, and the following account appeared in The Methodist the following month:

New Organ at Tamworth

The official opening and dedication of the pipe organ in the Tamworth Church took place on August 21. The service, which commenced at 7.30 p.m., and which was well attended, was conducted by the Rev. P. L. Black. The Rev. R. H. Campbell, Home Mission Secretary, performed the opening ceremony and preached the sermon for the occasion. The choir, under the direction of Mr. E. H. Ormerod, sang a number of appropriate anthems, and the organist, Mr. L. C. Williams, gave delight to all present by his rendering of a fine selection of voluntaries. The preacher took as his text the opening words of Psalm 65: "Praise waiteth for Thee, O God, in Zion, and unto Thee shall the vow be performed," and spoke of (1) the important part of praise in public worship; (2) praise as an expression of Christian unity; and (3) praise as a vital element in the devotional life. The whole service was most inspiring and helpful. After the dedication ceremony, the Rev. P. L. Black, on behalf of the trustees of the church, presented Mr. Campbell with a gold pencil suitably inscribed as a memento of the occasion. The instrument, which was reconstructed by Messrs. Whitehouse Bros., organ builders, Brisbane, is a valuable asset, and should be a great help for many years to come in all the services held in the Tamworth Church.8

Neither Rendall's specification nor the Whitehouse specification of 1926 has yet been uncovered, but a list of Whitehouse organs built before c.1963 describes the instrument as having been rebuilt with pneumatic action and 2 manuals.9 The 1926 Whitehouse Bros Ledger entry describes the work as 'Additions to Pipe Organ £525' and records a final payment on 15 September 1926.10 Annual tuning & regulation was noted between 1931 and 1950.11

Fifty years after the 1926 rebuild, the organ was again rebuilt and enlarged in 1976 by Whitehouse Bros of Brisbane, this time with electro-pneumatic action.

The 1976 plaque on the present organ
[Photograph by Trevor Bunning (September 2007)]

The rebuilt organ of 1976
[Photographs by Trevor Bunning (September 2007)]

The current specification is:

Open Diapason
St. Diapason

Horn Diapason
Lieblich Gedackt
Harmonic Flute

Bass Flute

Swell Sub
Swell Super
Swell to Great
Swell to Great Sub
Swell to Great Super
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Great Octave


2 rks


Swell tremulant
Detached stop-key console
Balanced swell pedal
Compass: 61/30
Electro-pneumatic action
3 thumb pistons to Great Organ
3 thumb pistons to Swell Organ.12

Console details of the 1976 organ
[Photographs by Trevor Bunning (September 2007)]

Peter D.G. Jewkes carried out remedial work on the Pedal Bourdon pipes in 2005, and reported as follows:

Happily the high quality [Alfred] Palmer [& Sons] of London manual pipework remains intact. The wooden pipes of the Pedal Bourdon 16' unfortunately were not of the same quality and 80 years in a fairly punishing climate had led to a variety of defects, resulting in in a decided lack of 16' tone. Recent remedial work has been undertaken to return this stop to its original strength.13


1 The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (31 October 1871), p. 3; S.W. Bonnor, Tamworth Methodist Church Jubilee 1871-1921: Souvenir Programme (Tamworth, NSW: Hammills Printery [1921]), p. 11.

2 Bonnor, op. cit., p. 15; Australian Town and Country Journal (21 September 1872), p. 7; The Empire (21 September 1872), p. 4; The Evening News (24 September 1872), p. 4.

3 The Sydney Morning Herald (4 May 1910), p. 14.

4 The Tamworth Observer and Northern Advertiser (26 August 1910), p. 2.

5 Bonnor, op. cit, p. 15.

6 Graeme Rushworth, Historic Organs of New South Wales (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1988), pp. 146, 205.

7 Rushworth, op. cit., p. 416.

8 The Methodist (25 September 1926), p. 11.

9 'Whitehouse Organs Built, Rebuilt and Installed during the Last Sixty Years' (List, c.1963) – as described in OHTA News, vol. 35, no. 4 (October 2011), p. 27.

10 Whitehouse Bros Ledger (1922-1940), p. 101;

11 Whitehouse Bros Ledger (1922-1940), pp. 397, 399; Whitehouse Bros Ledger (1940-1954), p. 233.

12 Specification from photographs by Trevor Bunning (September 2007).

13 Peter D.G. Jewkes Pty Ltd, 'Off the Chest: Wesley Uniting Church Tamworth,' The Sydney Organ Journal, vol. 36, no. 3 (Winter 2005), p. 41.


[Photograph by Trevor Bunning (September 2007)]