Strait Gate Lutheran Church
Light Pass Road, Light Pass
B 1925 J.E. Dodd. 1 manual, 7 speaking stops, 1 coupler, tracker
Man (all divided): 188.8.131.52.4.2. Ped:16.
Altns c.1977 J.E. Dodd & Sons Gunstar Organ Works.
Man : (all divided) 184.108.40.206.2 II-III. Ped:16.
From Historic Organs of the Barossa Valley, Volume 2:
North of Nuriootpa, the North Para River wends a meandering course across the flats. A German settlement of colonists from Klemzig sprang up at Light's Pass and Immanual Lutheran Church was built. In 1860 seven families in the District called teacher Gustav Julius Rechner to be their pastor and one year later their church, barely 100 metres from Immanuel, was dedicated and named Zur Engen Pforte. The tower was built in 1887. The Church expanded and, like St Petri, Nuriootpa, a modern structure replaced the original building. The organ is said to be the last single manual organ made by J.E. Dodd and is one of only three extant. Correspondance suggests the congregation had been influenced by the Lemke at nearby Immanuel, as Dodd was asked as to the feasibility of constructing foot treadles to supply the wind, a notion that was rejected.
The specification is: (6 stops, all divided)
Manual to Pedals
Around 1977 the Bourdon was removed from the Great and replaced with a Mixture by J.E. Dodd & Sons Gunstar Organ Works.
From the 2009 OHTA Conference Book, David Shield writes:
The congregation at Strait Gate dates from 1860 when several families left the adjacent Immanuel Church and set about forming a congregation of their own. They called the schoolteacher from Immanuel, Gustav Julius Rechner, to be their Pastor and he remained till1900. Their first building was dedicated the following year and “an old pipe organ was used for the time being”.1 In 1871, a large bell was bought and placed on a platform near the church before being relocated to the tower built in 1877. In 1960, a new church replaced the old. The bell tower was retained.
Having outgrown their previous church, the congregation determined to build a new one. Sir Eric Von Schramek submitted his design “with trepidation”. Of all his designs, he saw this as his most contemporary church. In his own words, he relates “a traditional design would have met with criticism and discussion whilst my radical contemporary design was accepted without dissent.” Von Schrameck retained the old church tower and added a new structure. A blank brick front wall without windows and with just a relatively narrow entrance door bears the Gospel verse “Enter ye in at the Strait Gate”. The triangular shape of the building represented the Holy Trinity with the slanted sides drawing the worshipper’s focus to the sanctuary area. All windows faced the sanctuary and the ceiling also sloped towards the altar of local Angaston marble. The reredos was to be a coloured window showing the stormy sky at Golgotha with a simple black cross over the altar.2
The bell tower houses a single bronze bell cast by Fr. Gruhl at the Kleinwelka foundry, Germany, in 1872. It weighs 456 kg and the mouth diameter is 915mm, ringing out the tone of G#. In addition, it has the decorative band in high relief and cherub heads on the crown, typical of bells from that foundry.3
In April 1924, J.F. Jacob of Light Pass made enquiries of J.E. Dodd with respect to the purchase of a single-manual organ. Reading between the lines, it would seem he modelled his request partly on the Lemke organ at Immanuel. It was to be foot blown, a notion Dodd completely rejected, though he allowed for both hand and foot pumping. “I do not advise the foot blowing as it is always unsatisfactory to every one including builder - But the price includes both.” From Dodd’s reply the organ needed to fit into a space with 12 feet of height, though Dodd would have preferred 16 feet. Dodd drafted three separate replies for five, six, and seven rank instruments ranging in price from £325 to £490. He also suggested that unless the church intended adding a second manual in future that the stops should all be divided. In Dodd’s view, a one-manual organ was very little good unless this was the case.4
Holy Trinity, Adelaide had also made enquiries of Dodd concerning a new organ. Knowing this, he prompted Strait Gate to consider the potentially redundant Rendall organ as suitable for their needs. There was supposedly a demand for second hand organs, “as new ones cannot be built as fast as the Churches would like as no one else knows about this instrument for sale, gives you the first chance”. The congregation did not follow Dodd’s prompting and proceeded to purchase a new organ.5
The current specification suggests the church chose Dodd’s five stop option, the organ being acquired in 1925. Whether the Bourdon was included or added later is not known. Prior to 1937, the bellows were hand pumped with members rostered for the purpose. The blower, now under the northern staircase, arrived with the coming of electricity. With the advent of the new church in 1961, Sid Gunn and Bill Binding, original installers of Gunstar Organ works, reassembled the organ in the gallery of the new church in 1961. A Mixture was added in 1978 from a member’s donation.6 The organ has 231 pipes, with 15 stops, divided between treble and bass. Of historic interest, it features in the 1960s film Pipes of Para.
J.E. Dodd & Sons 1925
1 manual, 7 speaking stops, mechanical action
MANUAL (all stops divided)
(on original Bourdon slide)
Coupler to Pedals
2 composition pedals
Balanced swell pedal
Location: west gallery
1 Church pamphlet: Strait Gate Lutheran Church Light Pass SA (c 1994). Nothing further is known of this organ.
2 Von Schramek, E., Reminiscences: Erik von Schramek and his Churches (2007), pp.72-73. The window is the work of Polish artist Stan Ostoja-Kotkowski (1922-1994); Church brochure: Welcome to the Strait Gate Lutheran Church Light Pass (c.2005)
3 Bagot, H., ‘Bells of the Barossa’, Journal of Friends of Lutheran Archives, no 10 (October 2000), p.16. Note brochure c.2005 op.cit. says the pitch is A. Bells from Kleinwelka may also be found at Keynton (1874) with a two-bell peal at Dutton (1890)
4 Dodd to J.F. Jacob 16 April 1923, DLB 1922-25, pp.241, 242, 243-244
5 Ibid. 18 April 1923, pp.251-252. Dodd probably assumed he would win a contract with Holy Trinity but had no authority to give any information to Strait Gate. His action was premature as his competitor W.L. Roberts supplied Trinity’s needs.
6 Church information sheet: The Strait Gate Organ (n.d.)
Photos: Trevor Bunning (March 2009)