Chinese Christian Church

(formerly Methodist, and subsequently Uniting Church)
Ryans Road, St Lucia

Noel Ferguson, Cairns, 1951, for his residence in Cairns
2 manuals, 4 ranks extended, electric action
Installed in the present location 1970 with additions, H.W. Jarrott, Brisbane
2 manuals, 5 ranks extended, electric action




The Chinese Christian Church Brisbane
[Photograph by David Vann (May 2012)]

 

Historical and Technical Documentation by Geoffrey Cox
© OHTA 2012, 2013 (last updated May 2013)


The former Ryans Road Methodist Church in St Lucia was sold by the Uniting Church in 1991, and is now owned by the Chinese Christian Church Brisbane Incorporated.1

The organ was built over a ten-year period by Noel M. Ferguson, an optometrist, for his residence in Cairns. When completed in 1951, it was described as follows:

CAIRNS, Sunday. — Working in his spare time a Cairns man has built a full-size organ in 10 years. It is believed to be the only genuine pipe organ in a private home in Queensland, and is worth about £6000.

Builder is Noel Ferguson, 42, an optometrist. Imported materials, including 134 metal pipes, have cost him nearly £1500.

Mr. Ferguson had made and tuned 142 wooden pipes, which vary in height from 8ft. to l-1/2in. They are made of kauri pine and cedar. They are built in on a verandah wall, behind a double row of shutters to mute the sound and adapt it to the size of the house. A small electric magnet is fitted under each pipe, while in the console at the other end of the room there are more than 3000 specially-made contacts of brass wire on silver.

The organ, which has 17 stops to alter the quality of tone, is built on the same lines as the Brisbane City Hall organ.

Tall, easy-going, Mr. Ferguson had only six months' organ tuition at the age of 16 from Mr. Archie Day. In the last 12 years he has been organist at the Cairns Central Methodist Church. His wife is an accomplished pianiste, and Mr. Ferguson has adapted several pieces of music to organ-piano duets.

All the organ building was done in a workshop under their house. Organ building is regarded as an expert combination of carpentry, turning, plumbing, and electrical work.

FOOTNOTE: But Mr. Ferguson calls in a carpenter when the steps of the house need repairing. 'That kind of work is too rough,' he said. 2



Cairns optometrist Mr. Noel Ferguson at his home-built organ
[The Courier-Mail (26 November 1951), p. 3]

The organ was scaled deliberately as a residence organ, and the reed rank was originally an Oboe which Ferguson re-voiced as a small-scale Trumpet. A description of the organ shortly after it was completed says that the pipework was entirely enclosed, and that there were two separate swell pedals.3 The instrument was later removed to Ferguson's new residence in Nundah, Brisbane, and then installed in 1970 at this location by H.W. Jarrott of Brisbane.

Before 1970 the organ comprised 4 ranks, extended over two manuals and pedals. Jarrott added an independent Clarinette 8ft stop on the Great and two others on the Pedal by borrowing from existing ranks, but leaving the original scheme essentially unchanged.14

 





The 1951 Noel Ferguson organ
in the Chinese Christian Church Brisbane, St Lucia
[Photographs by David Vann (May 2012)]

 

GREAT
Open Diapason
Stop Diapason
Salicional
Principal
Flute
Trumpet
Clarinette

SWELL
Open Diapason
Stop Diapason
Echo Gamba
Gambette
Trumpet
Clarion

PEDAL
Harmonic Bass
Bourdon
Principal
Bass Flute
Viol
Trombone

8
8
8
4
4
8
8


8
8
8
4
8
4


32
16
8
8
8
8

A
B
C
A
B
D



A
B
C
C
D
D


B
B
A
B
C
D







[1970]










[1970]

[1970]



Tremulant
No couplers
Compass: not recorded
Balanced swell pedal
Direct electric action
3 thumb pistons to Great
3 thumb pistons to Swell
2 toe pistons to Pedal.5









Console details of the 1951 Noel Ferguson organ
[Photographs by David Vann (May 2012)]

_________________________________________________________________

1 Personal communication to David Vann from Gary Adsett (Manager, Property Services, Uniting Church), May 2012.

2 The Courier-Mail (26 November 1951), p. 3. A related account appeared in The Cairns Post (5 December 1951), p. 5.

3 Collected Organ Specifications of Bernie Brohan (c.1952).

4 Personal communication to G. Cox from H.W. Jarrott, 1974.

5 Specification supplied by H.W. Jarrott, 1974. Details of pistons from the Collected Organ Specifications of Bernie Brohan (c.1952).