Campbell Street Presbyterian Church

1893 Charles Richardson, 2m., 17 sp. st., mechanical and tubular-pneumatic


Historical and Technical Documentation by Kelvin Hastie
© OHTA 2005 (last updated October 2005)

This church is an example of Early English Gothic Revival with lancet windows, being built between 1867 and 1878 and designed by architect James McDonald, who was Mayor of Balmain. It was constructed by William & James Burt.  It consists of a nave, a tower with stone octagonal spire, a vestry with a store-room underneath, and a gallery reached by a tower stair.


The tower emulates St Andrew’s Congregational Church nearby, but on a larger scale.  The church makes a notable contribution to the townscape, with its cast iron fence, gates and imposing façade. [1]


The organ, which stands in a commanding position at the front of the building, was built in 1893 at a cost of £504 and opened in a recital on 28 May of that year. [2]   The cedar case of the organ is especially charming, with a generous rounding of the corners, a substantial overhang, a line of façade pipes that draws the eye upwards and the inclusion of decorated wooden pipes on either side.


The organ is one of the most significant examples of the work of Sydney builder Charles Richardson to survive and its tonal design is typical of the conservative Romantic style he usually adopted.


Although surviving in substantially original condition, several minor changes have been made over the years, including the lowering of the pitch in 1926 (including the fitting of tuning slides) and alterations to the stop action, possibly in 1946 when S.T. Noad cleaned and repaired the organ for £145. [3]   The temporary removal of the swell shutters and tonal interchanges have also taken place, but all are now reversed: the Great Principal 4 spent some time in the Swell as an Open Diapason, while the Hohl Flute was inserted in place of the Gemshorn as a 4-foot stop, the Gemshorn being placed on the Great in place of the Principal.  A later short-lived change was the transposition of the Great Harmonic Flute 4’ to 2 ⅔’ pitch. [4]


Pitchford & Garside commenced a program of repairs in 1978 and more thorough restoration work was undertaken by J.W. Walker & Sons in 1985, partly funded by a state heritage grant of $12,000, and with David Kinsela as consultant.  Further work has since been undertaken by Peter D.G. Jewkes Pty. Ltd. [5]


The casework, including the restencilling of the front pipes which had received a late-1940s coat of aluminium paint, was exquisitely restored in 1985 by church member, Mr Wal Peters, who had been a sign-writer by profession. 

© PdL 2005

MP3 file (5.4MB) of Michael Dudman playing Voluntary No. 1 in D by Boyce (recorded 1982)

Charles Richardson 1893 (2/17 mechanical and tubular-pneumatic)

Open Diapason
Stop’d Diapason
Harmonic Flute

Lieblich Bourdon
Hohl Flute
Voix Celeste

Bass Flute

8 ft
8 ft
8 ft
4 ft
4 ft
2 ft
8 ft

16 ft
8 ft
8 ft
8 ft
4 ft
8 ft
8 ft







Great to Pedal

Swell to Pedal

Swell to Great

Swell Octave


Tremulant (drawstop under key desk)


Mechanical action for keys

Tubular-pneumatic action for stops, pistons and pedals

Compass 56/29

3 composition pedals for Great

3 thumb pistons each for Great and Swell

Hitch-down swell lever


No. of pipes = 902

Pitch (in 1985) a1 = 440 Hz

Wind pressure (in 1980) = 90mm (3⅛”)


Mixture composition:

C - b0 : 19.22

C1 - g3 :             12.15


+ c# 1 - g3 stopped metal pipes in zinc

* (C-B from Hohl Flute)

¶ bottom octave not original




© PdL 2005





Charles Richardson, Sydney, 1893

Campbell Street Presbyterian Church, Balmain

 (drawing by Graeme Rushworth)






[1] The Heritage of Australia: the illustrated register of the national estate.  South Melbourne: Macmillan, 1981, 2/35.


[2] Rushworth, Historic Organs, 125.


[3] John Stiller, “Presbyterian Church Balmain N.S.W.  Documentation of Pipe Organ built by Charles Richardson 1893”.  Organ Historical Trust of Australia, 8 October 1980.


[4] David Kinsela, “The Restoration of the 1893 Richardson Organ in the Campbell Street Presbyterian Church, Balmain”, Sydney Organ Journal, 16/6 (December 1985/January 1986): 29-37.


[5] OHTA, Restorations in Retrospect.  Conference Booklet, 23-27 September 1995, 26-27.