Christ Church Anglican Church

William Anderson; inst 1882 St George's Catholic Church, Carlton; inst 1887 present loc.
1 manual, 8 speaking stops, 1 coupler, mechanical action

From 2003 OHTA Conference handbook:

The nave of Christ Church, designed by James Dobbyn, was opened in 1859 and the massive tower and apse followed in 1864, the latter designed by noted Melbourne architect Leonard Terry and all constructed from local granite in the Early-English Gothic style. The interior includes stained glass windows in the sanctuary by William Montgomery, of Melbourne. The building is classified by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria). In 1955, Louis Williams supervised restoration after storm damage and in 1958 a wooden vestry was added.

The organ was built by William Anderson, of Melbourne. It was installed at St George's Catholic Church, Carlton in 1882 and placed in its present location in 1887, where it survives with little alteration, apart from the overpainting of the façade pipes, which are wooden dummies. It is a rare example of Anderson's work that has not sustained major alteration. The church is seeking to have the instrument carefully restored.

Open Diapason
Stopped Diapason Bass
Stopped Diapason Treble
Great to Pedals




wood bass

Compass: 58/30
Attached drawknob console
3 composition pedals
Mechanical action throughout

Photos: PdL 2003

Photo above: Trevor Bunning (1969)

Colin Holden, Church in a Landscape: A History of the Diocese of Wangaratta. Armadale, Vic.: Circa Books, 2002, pp.15, 19, 272.

Gladys Marie Moore, Louis Reginald Williams (thesis submitted … for degree of Master of Planning and Design, Faculty of Architecture, Building & Planning, University of Melbourne, August 2001)

Victorian Churches, edited by Miles Lewis. Melbourne: National Trust of Australia (Victoria), 1991, p.101


Restoration of the organ at Christ Church Anglican Church, Beechworth




The organ now at Christ Church Anglican Church, Beechworth, was built by the Melbourne organbuilder William Anderson and initially placed in St George’s Catholic Church, Carlton, which is now the chapel of Corpus Christi Seminary.  The Advocate of 8 April 1882 reported:




A fine new pipe organ built by Mr. Anderson of Little Flinders-street, has been purchased for St. George’s Church, Carlton, and is now being erected in the gallery of the church.  The quality of the instrument is highly spoken of.  The organ will be ready for use in a few weeks, when a formal opening of it will take place.


On 24 June 1882, The Advocate reported that the organ was opened Sunday last, Mr C. Sykes [Organist of SS Peter & Paul’s South Melbourne] presided at the organ, with the united choirs of St George’s and St Francis’ Churches.  This organ was replaced in 1886 by a larger two-manual Anderson instrument.


The Ovens and Murray Advertiser of 8 January 1887 reported that representatives of Christ Church, Beechworth were met at Anderson’s factory by Mr Sykes who put the organ to a most complete test … “they thought that the church was getting a great bargain”.  A more complete report appeared in the same newspaper for 17 January 1887:


Mr. Anderson, of Melbourne, and an assistant, have during the past few days been engaged in erecting the new pipe organ in Christ Church, Beechworth and will have the work completed tomorrow (Friday) on which evening the public will have an opportunity of hearing the instrument at a grand recital and concert of sacred music … Mr Sykes will officiate at the organ.


To give an idea of the size and quality of the new organ, we may state that it is a first class instrument of eight stops possessing powerful volume and sweetness and beauty of tone, is eight feet square and fifteen feet in height.  The congregation may well be congratulated on the acquisition of so fine an instrument which is pronounced by musical experts and others who have had an opportunity of hearing it, to be one of the best church organs, for its size, in any part of the colony.


Since the 1887 installation, the instrument has remained largely unaltered apart from a renovation by Laurie Pipe Organs in 1970 at which time the feeders were removed from the double-rise reservoir, pipework and action repaired and the metal conveyances for the Open Diapason open wood bass replaced in PVC tubing.  The quatrefoils in the casework also had been filled with blue paint, the façade pipes daubed in brass paint and electric blowing installed after the early 1930s.


This instrument incorporates many very old components.  The grid of the 59-note slider chest appears to have been made for a GG compass organ.  It has been fitted with later sliders (in beech), table, pallets and upperboards.  The pipework, too, probably dates from before 1850 while the base of the casework, beneath the impost, appears older than the upper parts: interestingly there is no case frame and the panels themselves offer the only support.  The source of this material is unknown.  There is no evidence whether it came from earlier organs in Melbourne.  One of the larger wooden pipes had been internally lined with a Melbourne newspaper dating from 1854.




The restoration has been expertly carried out by Wakeley Pipe Organs Pty Ltd of Bayswater, Victoria.  This had to solve many problems.  In particular the manual pipework was very poorly winded owing to very narrow channels and pallets in the treble (conversely the bass channels were unnecessarily large) together with a pallet box and wind trunk of limited capacity.  The casework and console were badly scuffed and damaged.  The mechanical components were poorly aligned. 

The work has comprised:


  • Restoration of the slider windchest, widening of some of the treble note channels and increasing the capacity of the pallet box by inserting a fillet of timber behind the faceboard.


  • Restoration of the mechanical action components.


  • Releathering of the double-rise reservoir.


  • Manufacture of an additional wooden wind trunk for the manual pallet box.


  • Manufacture of new pipe metal conveyances for the wooden Open Diapason bass.


  • Reconstruction of the console roof (this had been mutilated and then removed when electric light fittings were installed).


  • Rubbing pack of the case timbers and hand polishing.  New upper rear panels were fitted to the case, providing a reflective surface and protection from light and general interference.  Original blowers’ carved inscriptions have been retained.


  • Repainting of the wooden dummy façade pipes in high quality gold paint in place of the brass paint with which these had been overpainted.  There is no evidence of any earlier stencilling.


  • Repair of the wooden pipes.  Many had become badly split and all joints have been reglued and some pipes reinforced with a paper covering.


  • Repair of the metal pipes.  New tuning slides, in place of the rusty originals, have been installed; these have knurled lower edges to facilitate tuning.


  • Careful tonal finishing to recapture the original tone quality and revision of the wind pressure to 25/8 inches.  This had been raised previously to 3 inches to allow for leakage.  The pipework has been retuned to Young’s temperament.


The end result is a truly delightful instrument that performs admirably and has a strong early 19th century character, assisted by the unequal temperament.  The upperwork is gentle and the Twelfth adds a strong amount of tonal colour.  With a greatly reduced amount of carpet in the building it now has considerable charm.  Overall, the work has been carried out with great competence and a high level of intelligence. 

John Maidment  OAM

September 2008

Photos: JRM (Sept 2008)