St Augustine of Hippo Catholic Church

Hill & Son 1886, 3m., 21 sp. st., mechanical

© Pd L 2005

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


The earlier sandstone church to the south of the present church was designed by A.W.N. Pugin in Early English Gothic style and built in 1848-51 with extensions in 1860; it is now used as the hall.


The present church was opened in 1907.  It was built in brick with cement dressings in an Arts and Crafts idiom to the design of E.A. Bates.  It is prominently sited with a lofty square tower and distinctive bellcast roof, visible across the harbour.  The spacious church interior includes a nave and lofty aisles and provides a superb acoustical environment for the magnificent Hill organ located in the high west gallery. [1]


Originally built in 1886 as job no. 1952 for the YMCA Hall in Pitt Street, Sydney, it was moved some 20 years later to St Carthage’s Catholic Cathedral, Lismore, in northern NSW.  It was transferred to St Augustine’s in 1912 when St Carthage’s purchased a much larger organ by J.E. Dodd of Adelaide. [2]


Following a period of neglect, during which the pipework for the Great Wald Flute 4, Fifteenth 2 and the Choir Clarionet 8 disappeared, a restoration under the consultancy of David Kinsela was carried out in 1966.  The contract was undertaken by J.W. Walker & Sons Ltd, in conjunction with their Australian agent, Arthur Jones.  At this time, tuning slides were fitted to the metal fluework and the missing Great ranks were replaced by a Block Flute 2 and Fifteenth 2.  On the Choir a second-hand reed (an Orchestral Oboe 8) replaced the missing Clarionet 8, while a Super Octave 2 was added on a clamp. The Flauto Traverso 8 was transposed to 4’ and a new top octave supplied, while the original double-rise bellows was replaced by two smaller single-rise reservoirs, supplying wind at two pressures to the organ. 


In 1996 Pitchford & Garside carried out some repairs at the instigation of the church organist, Mr David Hinder.  The work also included the removal of the 1966 Block Flute 2 in order to restore a Wald Flute 4 to the organ and the non-original reed on the Choir was replaced by a Clarionet.



Live recordings can be downloaded as an mp3 file by clicking on the links below.

Vesper Voluntary in D by E Elgar (5.6MB) played by Mark Quarmby

"Commemoration March" by Scotson Clark (8MB) played by Mark Quarmby

Herr Christ, der ein'ge Gottes Sohn, BWV 601 by J S Bach (2.2MB) played by Michael Dudman (recorded 1982)

Hill & Son 1886 (3/21 mechanical)

Open Diapason
Hohl Flute
Wald Flute

Open Diapason
Stopped Diapason
Tremulant (by hitch-down)

Lieblich Gedact 
Flauto Traverso
Super Octave

Open Diapason 

8 Ft.
8 Ft.
4 Ft.
4 Ft.
3 Ft.
2 Ft.
3 Rks

8 Ft.
8 Ft.
8 Ft.
4 Ft.
8 Ft.
8 Ft.

8 Ft.
8 Ft.
4 Ft.
4 Ft.
2 Feet
8 Ft.

16 Ft.
16 Ft.






Swell to Great

Swell to Choir

Choir to Great Sub Oct

Great to Pedal

Swell to Pedal

Choir to Pedal


Mechanical action throughout


Compass 56/30



3 composition pedals to Great

2 composition pedals to Swell

1 spare slot for extra composition pedal


Hitch-down swell lever



No. of pipes = 1,212


Pitch  a1 = 443 Hz at 180 C



Wind pressures (in 1979)  72 mm (2 13/16”) for Great, Pedal Bourdon 16 and Pedal Open Diapason 16 (F# - f1);  61 mm (2 ⅜”) for Swell, Choir and C-F of Pedal Open Diapason 16



Mixture composition:

C - f#0 :    17.19.22

g0 - a#1 :  15.19.22

b1 - g3 :    8.12.15





+ Installed 1996 Pitchford & Garside to replace non-original Block Flute 2 of 1966

* Installed 1966 J.W. Walker & Sons to replace missing Hill pipework

¶ Added before 1966

§ Transposed 1966 from 8’ pitch with new top octave.  Bottom octave now operated by tubular-pneumatic action

^ Added on a clamp, 1966.  Stop dome in copperplate, possibly retrieved from the rebuilt 1883 Hill & Son organ at St Luke’s Concord

# Installed 1996 Pitchford & Garside to replace non-original Clarionet (actually a second-hand Orchestral Oboe 8) of 1966 [3]



© Pd L 2005

MQ (Dec 2009)


[1] The Heritage of Australia : the illustrated register of the national estate.  South Melbourne: Macmillan, 1981, 2/50.


[2] OHTA, “Restorations in Retrospect”, 23, and Rushworth, Historic Organs, 275-76.


[3] Technical information from John Stiller,  “St Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church Balmain N.S.W. – Detailed Documentation of Pipe Organ built by Hill & Son 1886”.  Organ Historical Trust of Australia, 10 November 1978 and 29 May 1979.