St John's Anglican Church
cnr St John Street & Elizabeth Streets, Launceston


First organ: removed 1862, now in St John's Anglican Church, Franklin.
Present organ, B. 1862 Charles Brindley, Sheffield. 2m., 18 sp.st., 2c., tr.
Inst. present loc. in church 1911 J.E. Dodd. Reb. & enl. 1912-c.1929 G.F. Hopkins.
Reb. 1934 Geo. Fincham & Sons (detached console, new action and pipefronts).
Reb. & enl. 1960 J.W. Walker & Sons, Ruislip, Middlesex.
Tonal altns. 1974 Laurie Pipe Organ (32ft reed, Tuba placed en chamade),
Prepared for Mixtures added 2007 Simon Pierce
3 manuals, 63 speaking stops, 9 couplers, electro-pneumatic




Photo: Trevor Bunning (Dec 2008)




By 1824 Launceston had become the base for whalers, whose stations were at Encounter Bay, and Portland Bay, and for the men stripping wattle bark at Westernport.  Lieut.-Governor Sorell made it the official headquarters of the northern settlement.  On 28 December 1824 Lieut.-Governor Arthur laid the foundation stone of St John’s Church Launceston on Land that Chaplain Samuel Marsden had blessed.

 

It  had been intended that St John’s should be a replica of St. David’s Hobart Town, but its size was arbitrarily reduced to what was considered adequate for the smaller settlement thus adversely affecting its proportions.  The church, of  Georgian design, was constructed of locally made bricks marked with the broad arrow, and built by convicts under the supervision of David Lambe, who had been appointed colonial architect in June 1824.  St John’s was first used, in unfinished condition, on 16 December 1825 and was capable of seating 550 people in its nave and galleries.  It was dedicated by Archdeacon Thomas  Hobbes Scott on 6 March 1828.  Two years later the tower with its octagonal turret was completed and in 1835 a clock and bell were installed in it.

 

During the 20th century the appearance of the church, both within and without, has been considerably altered.  A master plan was prepared by Alexander North to enlarge the church and between 1901 and 1911 the chancel was widened by three meters, transepts were added, and provision made for a massive tower at the crossing.  In 1938 the nave was reconstructed, the original walls being kept intact but raised in height and faced with new brickwork.  It is worth noting that it is no longer intended to implement the remainder of the masterplan which would have meant replacing the tower and vestries at the western end, the only visible remaining part of the original church, by twin towers linked with a great arch.

 

As it now stands, the church presents an unusual construction of two very different architectural styles.  The severe simplicity of the original nave with its low aisles and high clerestory and squat tower, surmounted by an octagonal turret, contrasts with the Gothic exuberance of the transepts and chancel which are constructed of red Victorian bricks and golden Patersonian sandstone with heavy bluestone foundations. Its final appearance will depend very greatly upon the height of the central tower with which the original tower and turret could be in competition.  [14]




From the 2002 OHTA Conference handbook:


The tower and surrounding masonry that can be seen at the west end of St John’s Church is all that survives from the original church of 1824-25 with the Regency Gothic tower added in 1830.  The church records go back close to two centuries – to 1811 [1].

On 4 February 1902, the foundation stone for the addition of the present chancel, transepts and vestries was laid by the Governor of Tasmania, Sir Arthur Havelock and the building erected during the following 10 years by day labour under the sole direction of the architect Alexander North and the churchwardens.  The work was carried out on a massive base of local bluestone, and above this Victorian brick was employed with ashlar courses of local freestone introduced at intervals to give variety and greater freedom to the detail of the exterior and added strength to the whole.  Reinforced concrete was used for the vaulting of the chancel, transepts, chapel, dome and organ loft, this being interspersed in many places with stone ribs.  The reinforcing took the form of interlacing wirework, rods of varying thickness, and, occasionally, railway iron.  This is thought to be the first instance of the extensive use of reinforced concrete for vaulting in Australia, with few parallels overseas at the time.  The new eastern parts of St John’s were consecrated on 3 December 1911.

It was not until 1937-38, however, that part of the intended “vast and glorious nave” was erected — again to North’s design, although somewhat modified in stylistic conception.  North built this up on the old foundations and was obliged to create internal buttresses to reduce the span of the roof trusses.  The magnificent column capitals, depicting Australian flora, were carved in wet cement by Gordon Cumming and were designed by North who was widely known for his botanical expertise [2].

The present organ in St John’s Church has as its basis an organ built for the church in 1861 by Charles Brindley, Sheffield.  This replaced an earlier instrument built by John Gray, London, installed in 1826, which still survives at St John’s Anglican Church, Franklin, minus its casework, parts of which are mounted on the west wall at Launceston.  The Brindley organ was opened at St John’s on Sunday 24 May 1862, Thomas Sharp, the church organist, presiding at the instrument.  It was stated that “. . . the organ is of great power, in fact is adapted for an edifice two or three times the size of St John’s.  The tone is full, rich, and musical . . .” [3]  E.J. Hopkins examined the completed organ prior to shipping on the Alfred Hawley.[4]  The organ was placed on the west gallery of the former church and its tonal strength must have proven providential when the new chancel and transepts, designed by Alexander North, were completed early this century.


From the booklet The Pipe Organs of St John's Anglican Church, Launceston


In 1911, J.E. Dodd, Adelaide, moved the organ to the present chancel chamber from the west end and added a Clarabella and Viol d’Orchestre to the swell. [5]  In 1915, G.F. Hopkins, a nephew of E.J. Hopkins, was appointed organist at St John’s and began to rebuild and enlarge the organ to four manuals, 69 speaking stops, 17 couplers and tubular-pneumatic action, [6] doubtless inspired by the grandeur of North’s architecture.  However, this scheme was never completed, consisting of a large two manual scheme at the time of Hopkins’ departure in 1930.  His additions to the Brindley nucleus included the splendid chorus reeds on great and swell, which ousted the former Trumpet and Cornopean, additional unison ranks, new wooden ranks for the pedal organ including a fine 32 Contra Bourdon, and new soundboards (large enough to accommodate many additional ranks) building frame, wind system and swell box. [7]

In 1934, the organ was rebuilt by George Fincham & Sons, Melbourne, who provided a new three-manual detached stopkey console on the chancel floor (choir organ prepared-for only), tubular-pneumatic action throughout, and new pipefronts to the chancel and north transept. [8]

In 1960, the organ was again rebuilt and enlarged, this time by J.W. Walker & Sons, Ruislip, Middlesex, who provided a new, all-electric detached drawknob console, a new choir organ partially utilising ranks from the former organ, and electro-pneumatic action throughout. [9]

In 1974, Laurie Pipe Organs, Melbourne, added a full-length 32ft reed as an extension of the Walker Trombone, and the treble of the Walker Tuba was mounted en chamade. [10]

In 2007, Brisbane organbuilder Simon Pierce (and son of former St John's Organist, William Pierce) added the prepared for Mixtures. To the Great he added a Sharp Mixture IV in memory of former St John's organist, Lindsay O'Neill and to the Swell he added a Full Mixture IV in memory of his father. The Swell Mixture III was reconstituted into a Sesquialtera in memory of Archdeacon Len Sutton. These mixtures were in the original concept of the organ designed by Hopkins but were not added in the 1960 rebuild. The Swell and Great organ fluework is now substantially completed to the original Hopkins design. [13]


Brindley Organ

GREAT
Double Diapason
Open Diapason
Stopt Diapason
Dulciana
Principal
Flute    
Twelfth 
Fifteenth
Mixture III
Trumpet   

SWELL 
Bourdon
Open Diapason
Stopt Diapason
Principal 
Cornet II   
Cornopean   

PEDAL
Sub Bass    
Bass Flute   

16
8
8
8
4
4
2-2/3
2
1-1/3
8


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


16
8


compass:                 

Great  — 56 notes

Swell  —  44 notes 

Pedal — 30 notes [11]

2 couplers

mechanical action




Photos: MQ

Present Organ

 

GREAT
Double Open Diapason
Open Diapason  no. 1
Open Diapason  no. 2
Open Diapason  no. 3
Stopped Flute
Claribel Flute
Principal
Stopped Flute
Twelfth
Fifteenth
Mixture                 
Sharp Mixture
Contra Tromba
Tromba
Clarion

SWELL
Lieblich Bourdon
Open Diapason
Flute d’Amour
Clarabella
Viole d’Orchestre
Salicional
Voix Celeste
Principal
Stopped Flute
Harmonic Piccolo
Sesquialtera          
Full Mixture
Hautboy
tremulant
Double Trumpet
Cornopean
Harmonic Clarion

CHOIR (added W)

enclosed division
Lieblich Bourdon
Double Dulciana
Violin Diapason
Lieblich Gedeckt
Dulciana
Prestant
Lieblich Flute 
Dulcet 
Nazard
Flautino
Tierce
Dulciana Mixture  
Double Clarinet
Clarinet
tremulant

unenclosed division
C
ontra Tromba
Tromba
Clarion
Tuba

PEDAL
Contra Bourdon 
Open Wood 
Open Diapason
Bourdon
Lieblich Bourdon 
Dulciana 
Octave Wood
Principal
Bass Flute
Fifteenth 
Octave Flute
Bombarde
Trombone
Trumpet
Tuba

16
8
8
8
8
8
4
4
2-2/3
2
III
IV
16
8
4


16
8
8
8
8
8
8
4
4
2
III
IV
8

16
8
4




16
16
8
8
8
4
4
4
2-2/3
2
1-3/5
II
16
8



16
8
4
8


32
16
16
16
16
16
8
8
8
4
4
32
16
8
8

A











B
B
B























C
D
E
C
D
E
C
D
C
C

D
F
F



B
B
B
G


H
I
A
H
C
D
I
J
K
J
K
B
B
B
G

F/W formerly only playable on pedal
H
B
part F
B
HN&B 1954
B
B
B
B
B 19.22.26
added 2007 Simon Pierce in memory of Lindsay O'Neill [13]
H: ext W heavy wind
H heavy wind
H: ext W heavy wind


B: ext H?
B: ext H? [Peter Dowde believes it is now Hopkins]
H:Dolcan
D: 1911
D: 1911
W
TC F: 1948
V: ext H? [Peter Dowde believes this to be the Hopkins Open Diapason 8' transposed as it was allegedly TC]
B: transposed?
H
former Mixture 22.26.29 reconstituted 2007 Simon Pierce in memory of Archdeacon Len Sutton [13]
added 2007 Simon Pierce in memory of William Pierce [13]


H heavy wind
H heavy wind
H heavy wind




B Double Diapason: ext W
B Dulciana: ext W
H: ext W







W
12.15
W







W: repositioned L 1974


H
H
F
H
B Double Diapason: ext W
B Dulciana: ext W
H
F: ext W?
B
F: ext W?

L 1974 ext from W
W ext from H


9 couplers

adjustable thumb & toe pistons 

el. pn. swell pedals 

electro-pneumatic action  

(B)   Brindley 1861                                                                                         

(D)   Dodd 1911                                                                                         

(F)   George Fincham & Sons                                                                       

(H)   Hopkins                                                                       

(W)   J.W. Walker & Sons

(L)   Laurie Pipe Organs

 [1]    Dorothea I. Henslowe, Our Heritage of Anglican Churches in Tasmania (Moonah, Tasmania:  Mercury Walch, c. 1979), p.40-41.

 

 [2]    Information from unpublished manuscript, John Maidment, Gothic Visionary:  Alexander North 1858-1945.

 

 [3]    Examiner 26 August 1862, p.5.

 

 [4]    Examiner 21 November 1861, p.5 & 22 April 1862, p.3.

 

 [5]    The organ of St John’s Church, Launceston.  Launceston, 1961.

 

 [6]    Letter from G.F. Hopkins to the editor, Musical Opinion, 22 September 1921.

 

 [7]    Notes J. Maidment.

 

 [8]    The organ of St John’s Church . . .

 

 [9]    Ibid.

 

[10]    Pers. Comm. S. Laurie to J. Maidment 1974.

 

[11]    Examiner 9 August 1862, p.3.

 

[12]    Spec. noted J. Maidment 1967-1979:  the organ awaits complete documentation to confirm the attributions made here.

 

[13]    OHTA News January 2008, report by Simon Pierce p.10.

 

[14]   Historic Churches of Australia  by TT Reed and R Beck,  Published by Griffin Press 1978

 

 

 

Historic photo of the nave before the organ case was added. 



Photo: Trevor Bunning (Feb. 1970)