Uniting (Methodist) Church
Smith Street, Walkerville
B 1921 W.L. Roberts. 2m, 17spst, 7c, el.pn.
Gt: 188.8.131.52.16.8.8. Sw: 184.108.40.206.16.8. Ped: 220.127.116.11.
Photo: Rodney Ford (Oct 2009)
From the 2009 OHTA Conference Book, David Shield writes:
As early as 1841, Wesleyan Methodist services had begun in private homes in the Walkerville area. In 1842, the present site was purchased and a 50-seat church was erected by voluntary labour the following year. Land for the adjoining cemetery was acquired in 1849. Initially singing was unaccompanied but with the advent of a new church in 1855 came a harmonium. The pipe organ did not arrive until 1921 as a memorial to the fallen of World War I.
This church in Walkerville was the third of the Wesleyan Methodist denomination to be organised in the colony. With no musical instrument, the pitch for singing was set by the preacher. As hymn books were scarce and many of the flock were illiterate, lines of the verses were first read and then sung. It is said that on one occasion a preacher started four different tunes during the one hymn.1
The cemetery is of interest. The Trustees of the Wesleyan and Methodist Society purchased the land for the adjoining cemetery on 8 May 1849 for the sum of £12, the first burial being on 10 April 1850. To be expected, the majority of burials were Wesleyan, but there was a policy of allowing access to members of other denominations. The last recorded burial took place in May 1973. Subsequently, the cemetery was closed, with 3,785 recorded burials having taken place.2 Of particular interest are the three German headstones in the south-west corner of the site. They belong to the Witkowski family, Jacob (1885), his wife Beata (1893), and adopted child Pauline (1877). Witkowski imported pipe organs.3
On 25 July 1854, the foundation stone of a new church building was set and “a substantial and commodious edifice of stone with a neatly finished interior” was opened on Sunday 29 April 1855. A major attraction was a harmonium built by Mr Lilywhite, said to be the first made in South Australia.4 A new reed organ was purchased and opened on 10 December 1894. Mr Warren played several selections and Miss Lucy Stevenson sang.5
Moves began in 1909 for the building of yet another, larger, church, and finally on 30 November 1912 the present building, to seat 300, was opened. The architect was the Revd T. Geddes White.6
The cessation of hostilities on the world stage frequently saw the erection of memorials to the fallen. Though memories often fade, the organ at Walkerville is a memorial to the men of the church who had served in the First World War. The central plaque bears the names of 12 men who made the supreme sacrifice. The organ was opened free of dept largely through the untiring efforts of Mr Wilfred Hobba who was organist for 30 years.7 Built by W.L. Roberts, it was opened and dedicated by Brigadier-General S. Price Weir DSO VD on Sunday 27 November 1921 at the 11.00 am service.
On the Tuesday following, a recital was given by Harold Parsons, Mus. Bac. The programme began with Mendelssohn’s Sonata in C Minor, and was followed by Lemare’s Caprice Oriental and Wolstenholme’s Question and Answer, an Offertory on two Xmas Carols by Guilmant, the Choral Preludes Melcombe and Eventide by Parry, Starlight and MDCXX of MacDowell, a prelude of Debussy with the finale being the last movement of the Concerto in B flat of Handel. Songs of Gounod and Liddle given by Miss Hilda Simcock AMUA. and Mr E. Fairhurst Derbyshire complemented the organ solos and the evening was rounded out with the singing of the hymn “God is with us”.8
The instrument was of interest for the provision of Swell Oboes at 16 and 8ft pitch, and a Pedal Contra Dulciana 16, thought to be the first examples of such stops provided on a two-manual organ built in Australia. The casework was elaborate, with two outer circular towers containing three pipes and a slim central tower placed at an upper level on either side of two flats, each of two storeys.
Builder William L. Roberts, Alfred Street, Parkside, Adelaide : 27 November 1921
2 manuals, 16 speaking stops, tubular-pneumatic action
Swell Sub to Great
Swell to Great
Swell Octave to Great
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
3 thumb pistons to Great
3 thumb pistons to Swell
Reversible thumb piston for Swell to Great
Reversible thumb piston for Swell to Pedal (disconnects Great to Pedal)
3 toe pistons to Great (duplicates manual pistons)
3 toe pistons to Swell (duplicates manual pistons)
1 toe piston for Grand Organ
Reversible toe piston for Great to Pedal
Balanced swell pedal
Electric motor and blower (the latter manufactured by Ellis & Clark)
Detached drawstop console
At some point, perhaps in the 1960s, the action was changed to electro-pneumatic allowing the console to be moved away from its central position in front of the pulpit. The reed stops have been removed and alternative ranks substituted. In place of the Oboes there is a Fifteenth and on the Swell an Aeoline. The Pedal Flute is named Bass Flute and in place of the Contra Oboe is a Principal rank. L.S. Waters may well have done this work, but needs verification. The console was further moved in 1990.10
1 South Australian Methodist, 24 March 1944, p.2
2 Cemetery information from website www.walkerville.sa.gov.au
3 Witkowski was responsible for importing at least two pipe organs, one of which is at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Nuriootpa (see entry); the other is at the monastic retreat of the Passionist Fathers at Glen Osmond.
4 South Australian Methodist, op cit; also in Scales, M., John Walker’s Village (1974), p.27 quoting Register 1 May 1855. William Lillywhite was conductor of the North Adelaide Choral Society and instructed singers using the Hullah system, Register 30 April 1855, p. 1.6; ibid., 21 December 1853, p. 3.6
5 Christian Weekly & Methodist Journal, 28 December 1894, p.3
6 South Australian Methodist, 24 March 1944, p.2; T. Geddes White was born in Victoria in 1863 and began his ministry in 1885. He died in 1946 and is buried in West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide: Methodist Church of Australia Ministerial Index, ninth ed. (1961), p.206; see also: South Australian Methodist, 26 July 1946, p.5; ibid., 2 August 1846, p.5
7 Pamphlet: Centenary Celebrations Walkerville Methodist Church 1844-1924, p.9
8 Opening and dedication of the Memorial Organ Sunday November 27th 1921.
10 Changes noted D. Shield 1990
Photo: JRM (Oct 2009)