Clarence William Andrewartha

(from OHTA News, volume 44, no 3 (September 2019))

Clarence William Andrewartha was trained as a cabinet maker.  His family owned a furniture making company with premises in Church Street, North Richmond, Victoria.  He was born at Armadale, Victoria in 1891 and married Caroline Alice Hudson in 1917.  He lived at 33 Ercildoune Street, Caulfield West, where he had built and installed a small pipe organ.  He died in December 1950 and was survived by his wife, a daughter and two sons.

He worked on at least 19 pipe organs, some new, some rebuilt and others that were relocated.  It is also understood that he assisted other people building organs such as Raymond Fehmel and Keith Lavers, both living nearby in Caulfield.  His work was carefully executed, but sadly hardly any examples of it survive in unaltered state.  All of his instruments were built with tubular-pneumatic action and two were extension organs built using this form of action.  His metal pipework, of excellent quality, was made by William Potter or his son Sam Potter, who lived in Balwyn – he had worked for Finchams in the 1930s.  Andrewartha made all of his wooden pipework.

Undated    Residence of C.W. Andrewartha, Ercildoune Street, Caulfield.  2 manuals.  Built into the corner of a room.  
           Broken up after his death and parts sold to St Peter’s Anglican Church, Leongatha and later dispersed.
1931       St Alban’s Anglican Church, North Melbourne.  1 manual.  Relocation of organ from St James’ Church. 
           Dandenong with minor additions.  Moved to Beechworth Town Hall 2018.
1932       Fitzroy North.  Residence of Charles Stickland.  3 manuals.  Moved to Congregational Church, 
           Warrnambool 1940 and rebuilt and moved to St Gabriel’s Catholic Church, Reservoir 1976 George Stephens and John Parker.
1933       Caulfield. Residence of Raymond Fehmel, Sylverley Grove.  2 manuals.  Assisted in the construction of the organ.  
           Later moved to Aberfeldie and now in storage in Surrey Hills.
1933       St Margaret’s Anglican Church, Caulfield.  2 manuals.  Rebuilt by George Stephens and moved 
           to St Chad’s Anglican Church, Chelsea 1988.
1934       Wyclif Congregational Church, Surrey Hills.  2 manuals.  Rebuild of organ built by Mr Dudley, 
           Armadale for Charles Stickland.  Broken up 1970s by Geoffrey Revell and some parts used at 
           St George’s Anglican Church, Mont Albert (now destroyed).
1935       Methodist Church, Kooyong Road, Caulfield.  2 manuals.  Broken up 1981 by W. Glasson.  Casework remains in church.
1937       St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Surrey Hills.  3 manuals.  Rebuilt 1983-4 Australian Pipe Organs.
1938       Baptist Church, Kew.  2 manuals.  Rebuilt by Geo. Fincham & Sons with new case and console.
1938       Baptist Church, Elsternwick.  1 manual.  Relocation of 1874 Douglas Renton organ from Baptist Church, Kew.  
           Relocated to St John’s Anglican Church, Flinders.
1939       Presbyterian Church, Armadale.  2 manuals.  Rebuilding of Samuel Lewis organ.  
           Rebuilt Laurie Pipe Organs and moved to St Michael’s Catholic Cathedral, Wagga Wagga, NSW.
1939       Christ Church Anglican Church, Ormond.  Installation of 1864 George Fincham organ from Congregational Church, East Melbourne.
           Rebuilt and enlarged by John Larner and Geo. Fincham & Sons.
c.1939-    Clarinet added to organ at St Thomas’s Anglican Church, Essendon, pipework by William Potter
1940       Baptist Church, Camberwell.  2 manuals.  Rebuilding of earlier [Taylor?] organ and relocation in new church building.  
           Rebuilt by Geo.Fincham & Sons.
1942       Methodist Church, Brunswick.  2 manuals.  Rebuilding and enlargement of earlier single-manual Fincham organ.  
           Organ survives unaltered in an abandoned building.
1944       Baptist Church, Brighton.  2 manuals.  Possibly using some older materials.  Rebuilt by S.J. Laurie.  
           Enlarged and relocated to Yarra Valley Grammar School 2019.
1947       Residence of G.F. Stephens, Ferntree Gully.  2 manuals.  Completion of organ.  
           Broken up after owner’s death by Geo. Fincham & Sons.
1950       Methodist Church, Bentleigh.  2 manuals.  Relocation of Wadsworth organ from Tatham Fells, UK.  
           Relocated to Westminster Presbyterian Church, Belconnen, A.C.T.
1951       St David’s Presbyterian Church, Glen Huntly.  2 manuals.  Completed by F. Gavins and C. Lomas after Andrewartha’s death.  
           Rebuilt by S.J. Laurie and later relocated to St Anthony’s Catholic Church, Alphington.
1956       Methodist Church, Colac.  2 manuals.  Began the rebuilding of Gray & Davison organ.  
           Completed by Charles Lomas.  Rebuilt by Geo.Fincham & Sons.

It is interesting to speculate how these instruments were commissioned. The presence of four Baptist Church organs hints at links here. His prices were probably rather lower than those of professional firms such as Fincham, HN&B or Taylor. He was also well supported by amateur organbuilders and organists such as Ray Fehmel and Charles Stickland. At least half of his work was carried out for clients within a relatively short distance of his Caulfield home, so he enjoyed a local reputation.

Myles Browne, who worked for Hill, Norman & Beard, has made some interesting observations on Andrewartha’s pneumatic actions:

He produced his own design of pressure pneumatic action at the delivery end of the action train. The principle was the same for unit work (pallet for every pipe) and straight conventional soundboard underactions – the only difference being the size and shape of the wind-admitting pneumatic motor. The primary action is the item most interesting and, to my knowledge, not used by anyone else in Australia. It is thought that this action was invented by Andrewartha himself, this information coming from Charles Lomas, a Melbourne piano technician and tuner who ultimately finished Andrewartha’s last contract – the Methodist Church, Colac.

John Maidment