from John Maidment
Restoration of the Great, Swell and Pedal slider windchests has now been completed. The work has been carried out by Wakeley Pipe Organs Pty Ltd, Bayswater, Victoria. The manual windchests have had new marine ply tables fitted in place of the badly cracked, poorly repaired and unsalvageable originals. Marine ply facings have also been fitted to the bottoms of the manual upperboards. Badly damaged sliders have been replaced in laminated mahogany. New pallets boxes and faceboards have been constructed in pencil cedar while new brass pulldown strips and phosphor bronze pulldowns have been fitted. Pallets have been converted back to the original split operation in the bass.
The work has involved the filling of thousands of vertical and horizontal bleed holes from the chests inserted to obviate the appalling ‘runnings’ that affected their operation.
Tonal changes made in 1970 also involved the serious alteration of some of the upperboards to accommodate tonal changes, particularly in the Choir Organ and these are in the process of being reversed.
It is hoped that the final set of windchests – for the Choir Organ – will be complete in May 2009.
The above work will ensure that the pipework receives a full supply of wind and speaks as Hill & Son intended. The windchests will also offer an optimum level of stability which was never possible in the instrument’s original location.
The restoration of the manual chests has been assisted by a generous grant from The Ian Potter Foundation.
While around 85% of the Hill & Son pipework survives, several ranks have been discarded while others were transposed or cut down in 1970. The following work has been completed by Tim N B Gilley, craftsman organ pipe maker, Bayswater, Victoria:
• Reconstruction of the Great Organ Open Diapason no 2 8ft from middle f# upwards
• Reconstruction of the Great Twelfth 3ft – new pipes throughout
• Restoration of the Choir Cone Gamba 8ft and conversion back to original speaking length (the treble pipes from middle F# upwards are still missing but have been located elsewhere)
• Restoration of the Choir Gemshorn 4ft and conversion back to original speaking length with new treble pipes from middle f# upwards
• Restoration of the Swell Pierced Gamba 8ft and conversion back to original speaking length
Reconstruction of the missing Choir Dulciana and Voix Céleste 8ft, both from Tenor C, is to follow shortly. The scales of these stops will be based upon those from a contemporary Hill & Son organ that was placed in St Barnabas’ Anglican Church, Broadway, NSW before its destruction by fire. The OHTA documentations of the Broadway and Goulburn Hill & Son organs carried out by by John Stiller many years ago have provided a valuable reference point when determining the scales of the missing Tanunda Hill & Son pipework.
Reconstruction of the pipework has been assisted by a generous grant from the Annie Danks Trust.
A second-hand Hill & Son Flautina 2ft has been donated to the project by Peter D.G. Jewkes Pty Ltd, Sydney. Discovered in an organ in Sydney, these had come from an 1884 Hill & Son organ (job number 1892) built for St Mary’s Church, Kingsworthy, UK. It is hoped that this can be used to replace the missing Choir Flageolet 2ft. A Hill & Son Pedal Violoncello from 1891 is also on offer from a dismantled organ in Sydney. This could be used to replace the original which was destroyed in 1970. Funds for the acquisition of the latter stop would have to be raised.
Work taking place in the Barossa Regional Gallery
George Stephens, the South Australian organ builder responsible for the overall organ restoration, has recently completed the following work:
• Installation of parts of the mechanical action for the Pedal Organ
• Placement of the reconstructed Barker lever action
• Construction and installation of the main reservoir wind regulation mechanism
• Construction and installation of new internal support structures for the back of the cantilevered Swell Bourdon rank top boards and the Swell passage boards.
Work in the near future will include installation of the Great Chests. This will then allow installation of the restored swell box on top of the previously installed Swell Chests and installation of the central pediment and returns of the casework.
Construction and installation of glass viewing walls around the sections of the organ beneath the stage floor has also been completed. This unique facility allows everyday visual access from within the basement room to many parts of the organ not normally seen, especially the Barker Lever machine and much of the organs action.
Fund raising continues to secure finance for the organ’s completion as soon as possible. Donations are still most welcome. Major aspects of the project yet to be completed include the assembly of the key and stop actions, manufacture and installation of wind trunks, installation of pipework, regulation of actions and pipework and completion of the case and façade pipe decoration.
Installation of the restored Swell Organ slider chests at the top of the organ
Great Organ slider chests stripped for restoration
Great Organ slider chests showing filled exterior holes and restored split pallets
Underside of Great Organ slider windchests showing canvas placed across the note channels
Restoration of Great Organ slider chests complete February 2009
Restored pallet box, pallets, pulldown wires February 2009
Restored mahogany upperboards February 2009
Choir Organ windchests stripped and with template affixed for drilling holes in the new marine ply table
Construction of the glass screens
Framework for the glass screens
View from above the stage roof into the interior of the organ
Cut down Choir Organ Gemshorn 4ft from 1970 – before lengthening
Choir Organ Gemshorn 4ft restored to full length
Swell Organ Pierced Gamba 8ft restored to full length – this had been converted to a Twelfth in 1970
Zinc bass of Choir Organ Cone Gamba 8ft restored to full length – this had been converted to a Quint 5-1/3 in 1970
Swell Pierced Gamba, Choir Cone Gamba, Choir Gemshorn – restored pipework
New Great Organ Twelfth 3ft – the original Hill pipes had been removed in 1885 and converted to a Harmonic Piccolo
New trebles from Middle F# of the Great Organ Open Diapason no 2 8ft – the originals had been discarded in 1970
Photos: JRM (Feb 2009)
In the past six months since the Sydney Conference, the Tanunda Hill & Son organ restoration has progressed at a good pace. The work performed during this time includes:
- All pedal pipe work has had the crude hacked tuning slots repaired ready for new discrete slots to be installed
- Pipe extensions on the wooden ranks from the 1939 pitch change have been removed
- Wooden trunking has been constructed to provide wind to the Barker lever machine which was then successfully activated for the first time with cheers resulting! Adjustments to the machine can now commence.
- New metal conveyancing to all case pipes has been completed by Tim Gilley (about 85 metres total) with George constructing the wooden conveyancing.
- The stop action to the swell division is currently being worked on, including the construction of roller boards to transfer the action from the stop trundles at the key bench level to the wide swell chests approximately 3 metres above. All steel work is being performed by Irwin Beitz. Supply of all steel has been sponsored by the Ahrens Engineering Group of Shea-Oak Log.
- Hundreds of fiddly wire ends for the remaining tracker key action have been manufactured by Aub Kaesler (retired watchmaker).
- Key bench and keyboards have been securely supported by discretely constructed steel supports inside the organ to rectify sagging from over the years.
- All manual pipe rack boards have been repaired or remade as required
- All of the organ's manual pipes have been rounded out and racked by George Stephens with minor dents removed and bends straightened. All pipes are now carefully stored for final voicing down the track.
- Some of the new manual slides are being re-made by Ian Wakeley. He will be back to the Barossa to complete his work on the chests.
We do still need to work at our last level of fund raising to realise the finished instrument. To assist, we have recently secured a $4,000 grant from Barons of Barossa and in September we had a successful benefit concert by the Burnside Symphony Orchestra in Tanunda which, coupled with takings at the trading table, raised over $1,500.
The sustained momentum of the project from everyone involved over many years now is very humbling and is indeed nothing short of a miracle! We are trying to bring the project to a speedy conclusion as quickly as possible though so that we can all rest for a bit. George Stephens is planning to complete his work by next Easter.
I reinforce that the project is not a project of Steve or David, or the Barossa. It is proudly an OHTA project, with hundreds of people participating from all over Australia and beyond. The finished instrument is going to be all the more sweet as a result. Keep up the good work everyone!
Images showing the recently completed conveyancing constructed by Tim Gilley, connecting the Great Double, #1 & #2 Open Diapason bottom notes to their respective façade pipes. Also shown are the new rack boards constructed by George Stephens, to repatriate the Great Double Open Diapason and the Open Diapason #1 to their rightful position after being displaced a foreign Mounted Cornet in 1970. The Open Diapason #2 is now also able to return home to the Great chest after its exile to the pedal department.