Congregational Church, Malvern, Vic: the exterior
[from a postcard]
Historical and Technical Documentation by John Maidment
© OHTA, 2012 (last updated August 2012)
The Congregational Church, Malvern was opened in 1887, this being reported at some length in the Melbourne newspaper The Argus:
NEW CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, MALVERN.
The services in connection with the opening of the new church built for the use of the members of the Congregational Union at Malvern and vicinity were held yesterday, when the Rev. F.H. Browne, chairman of the union, preached the inaugural sermon. The text was taken from the 122nd psalm, 1st verse – "I was glad when they said unto me Let us go into the house of the Lord." There was a large number of persons assembled.
The church occupies a central position in the Glenferrie-road. The foundation stone was laid on the 10th October, 1886, by Mrs. J.A. Devenish, one of the early settlers in the district, and a most liberal contributor to the funds of the church. Only half of the projected building has been finished. It is of brick on stone foundations and is in the Gothic style of architecture. When completed it will be 80ft long by 43ft. wide, and will seat over 500 people. The height from floor to ceiling is 30ft, and from the ground to the cross 60ft. A roomy vestibule with arches supported by ornamental iron pillars occupies 45ft. of the front space. The portion completed has an appearance of great strength and durability, and when the whole structure, with the commanding tower shown on the plan, has been finished it will be a very handsome church and an ornament to the district. Kauri pine has been employed for the ceiling, which is divided into panels by heavy mouldings and beautifully finished. Lighting, ventilation, and seat accommodation are all that can be desired. The cost of the edifice when completed will be £2,000, nearly the whole of which has already been subscribed. Messrs. Billing and Son of Collins-street, are the architects, Mr. J.H. Harrison of Malvern, the contractor and builder, and Mr. J.C. Evans, the clerk of works. As showing the rapid progress of that portion of Melbourne suburbs, it is noteworthy that this is the fourth substantially-built church which has been opened during the last year within a radius of three miles from the Malvern town hall.1
The 1915-16 J.E. Dodd organ at the Congregational Church, Malvern
[photograph by Robert Tobin (1967)]
The pipe organ by Adelaide organbuilder J.E. Dodd was built in 1915 and opened in February 1916, the first example of his work in Victoria. It is understood that Melbourne organist A.E.H. Nickson had stopped in Adelaide en route to the United Kingdom and was very impressed by the tonal and mechanical quality of Dodd's work and thereafter was one of his supporters, acting as an advisor to the Malvern church.
Dodd used imported metal pipework but would have made the windchests and wooden pipework himself. It was placed prominently in an elevated apse chamber in a building with excellent acoustics and sounded very well. The tubular-pneumatic action was converted to electro-pneumatic around 1960 by S.I. Sakacs, a local resident. The organ was dismantled and sold to Caulfield Grammar School in 1967 where it was rebuilt and enlarged by Laurie Pipe Organs Pty Ltd. Here it sounded very fine indeed, especially when played by the director of music Norman Kaye, who made several broadcasts on the ABC radio programme 'Organists of Australia'. In 2000, the memorial hall where the organ was located was destroyed by fire and the organ was entirely consumed. It was not replaced.
The opening of the organ in February 1916 was reported:
Organ Recital at Malvern
Last night a recital was given by Mr. A.E.H. Nixon on the new organ recently placed in the Malvern Congregational Church. T he capabilities of the new instrument were fully demonstrated by Mr. Nixon who contributed selections from Handel, Bach and Guilmant. The instrument was built by Mr. J.E. Dodd, of Adelaide.2
The Malvern church was demolished in the late 1960s and being sited in the centre of Malvern's shopping area, a Coles New World supermarket was erected in its place.
Swell to Great
Viole de Gambe
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Tubular-pneumatic key and stop action
Balanced mechanical swell pedal
3 thumb pistons to Great
3 thumb pistons to Swell
Detached stopkey console3
1 The Argus 21 March 1887, p. 6
2 The Argus 23 February 1916, p.10
3 Specification noted by John Maidment 1967