St Ambrose's Catholic Church
Sydney Road, Brunswick

B c1880s William Anderson; res 1982 Knud Smenge
2 manuals, 15 speaking stops, 3 couplers, tracker action








From the 1985 OHTA Conference handbook:

The foundation stone of the first section fo St Ambrose's Church was laid on 13 February 1870 and it was dedicated in December 1873; the architects were J.M. Robertson and J.M. Denny, the latter of whom was foreman to A.W.N. Pugin, the noted English architect. Additions to the church were made in 1899 to the plans of T.A. Payne, respecting the style of the original work. Numerous alterations have been made subsequently to the interior of the church but the exterior remains essentially unaltered. [1] Recent restoration work has seen the mouldings painted in a lime wash finish representing a great improvement in overall appearance.

The organ at present in this church, located on one side of the rear gallery, was opened on 20 September 1891 by Charles Sykes. [2] Based upon stylistic grounds, this instrument may be positively attributed to the Melbourne 19th century organbuilder William Anderson; the tonal design and stop nomenclature, case design and unusual sloping stop jambs are all typical of his work. [3]

Alterations to the instrument have been minimal apart from the introduction of electric blowing, the fitting of tuning slides to the great fluework by Keith Davis, [4] and the "adornment" of the casework with white paint and the silvering of the front pipes, which were originally diapered. The white paint has recently been removed to reveal the timber beneath, to its great advantage. The overpainting on the fa├žade pipes has also been removed to reveal the basis of the original decoration which incorporated cartouches in red and blue with the symbols IHS and MR following the precepts of Pugin.

The instrument has an unusual divided swell flue double, to provide a soft pedal bass through the swell to pedal coupler, and the major pedal rank is labelled "Open pedal pipes", a rather anachronistic name at the end of the 19th century.

Knud Smenge, of North Mebourne, restored the organ in 1982. The double-rise reservoir and feeders were re-leathered, with the hand-blowing retained. A new blower was installed. The mechanical action was entirely dismantled, rebushed and restored, including the fitting of new trackers. The manual keys were replated in bone and the pedal keys refaced in myrtle; the console woodwork was also repolished and a new bench provided. [5] The upperwork was also revoiced to provide a more keen and powerful sound.



Great
Open Diapason
Stop Diapason Bass
Clarabell
Dulciana
Principal
Flute
Twelfth
Fifteenth
Swell to Great

Swell
Lieblich Bourdon
Double Diapason
Open Diapason
Stopd Diapason
Gemshorn
Piccolo
Hautboy

Pedal
Open Pedal Pipes
Pedal Bourdon
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedals

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



16
16
8
8
4
2
8


16
16




CC-BB
TC
TC







CCC-BBB*
CC
gvd. bass











compass: 58/30
3 couplers
3 composition pedals to Great
2 composition pedals to Swell
trigger swell lever
mechanical action

* placed outside swell box [6]




Photos: Trevor Bunning (Aug. 1985)

Tony Way playing with Pam Elridge turning pages.












Photos: JRM (Nov 2009)



Photo above: Simon Colvin (Nov 2009)


[1] Notes, John Maidment; E.N. Matthews. Colonial organs and organbuilders. Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 1969, p. 124.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Deduced by John Maidment
[4] Inscription inside organ
[5] Notes, John Maidment
[6] Spec. noted John Maidment, 1982