St Cyprian's Anglican Church
Melbourne Street, North Adelaide

B 1882 W.G. Rendall for Holy Trinity Anglican Church, North Terrace Adelaide;
inst present loc 1927 W.L. Roberts.
1m, 8spst, 2c, tr &
Man: Ped: 16.

Photos: PdL (2009)

From the 2009 OHTA Conference Book
, David Shield writes:


Lower North Adelaide in 1852 was not regarded very highly.  The first nucleus of settlement on the north bank of the River Torrens had centred on Kermode Street to the west.  The population to the east, in Irish or German Town, was regarded as “poor ignorant miscellaneous and fluctuating”, while the area was noted for rags, filth and vermin.1  From the parish of Christ Church, formed in 1849, a Sunday School was established in Lower North Adelaide with the appointment of lay readers by 27 April 1851.  In 1872, the present site of St Cyprian’s was purchased and 10 years later the foundation stone laid.  Called the Mission School Church it was inaugurated on 11 February 1883 by Bishop Kennion.


A brief paragraph in 1927 noted the Dean of Adelaide, in memory of the late Revd Charles H. Gent, had dedicated a fine organ at St Cyprian’s.2  Installed by W.L. Roberts,3 it was built by Walter George Rendall though the exact date of its construction is still slightly uncertain.  By implication from press reports of Rendall’s work at the time, it had been determined that the organ must have been built in 1881-82.  However, renovations in 2000 revealed a builder’s plate beneath the memorial plate of 1927 bearing the date 1880.  This would seem to confirm it to be one of Rendall’s earliest works.4


It apparently did not work well.  In 1887, Fincham & Hobday quoted £45/10/- for repairs to remake the soundboards and action, bush the keys, put the coupler and pedal action in order, make sound the bellows and enlarge the trunk, enlarge the conveyances to the front pipes, new buttons, cloths, trackers and wires where necessary.5


After documenting the organ in 1980, Stiller came to the conclusion that it was difficult to determine the extent to which the organ was original.6  A critical article of 1897 had indicated the instrument was:


…by no means built in accordance with the measurements and suggestions of the Royal College of Organists, contains one manual and a bourdon pedal.  On the manual are six stops, but the pedal is limited to the lowest twelve notes, albeit the pedals themselves (which are quite a curiosity) extend over two octaves.7


It would seem at this point at least the pedal board was of 12 notes and the front pipes were speaking pipes.  By 1980, the stencilled pipes had been painted over and were non-speaking; there was also a full pedal board of 30 notes, clearly added.  Stiller also noted the diversity of stopper shapes and suggested Rendall may have built the instrument from second-hand pipes.


In 1949, there was a move to enlarge the organ and £100 was sought to achieve this end.  This coincided with the retirement of the organist Mr H.L. Hill.  As a result, the wooden Viole 8ft rank was added in 1950.  This rank is said to have come from the Adastra Cinema four-rank Wurlitzer theatre organ at Port Pirie.8


George Stephens renovated the organ in 1985.9  In 2000, the organ case and organ seat were stripped, repaired, and revarnished.  The organ pipes were redecorated using the original colours and stencilled pattern.  The action of the organ was thoroughly overhauled.10


W.G. Rendall 1881-82

1 manual, 8 speaking stops, manual action mechanical,

pedal action tubular-pneumatic







Open Diapason




Stopped diapason










Octave coupler








Manual to Pedal






Compass:  56/30


Attached drawknob console


Balanced swell pedal


Located in chamber to south of chancel



Photo: PdL (2009)

Photos: JRM (Oct 2009)




1  Church Booklet:  St Cyprian’s North Adelaide Centenary Adelaide (1983), p.4


2  Register, 28 February 1927, p. 11.6.  The date of 1889 given in the Church Booklet op.cit.  p.8 would appear to be an error based on information provided to Enid Matthews by W.L. Roberts: Matthews, E.N., Colonial Organs and Organ Builders (1969), p.193 - note 6 letter Mr Roberts to author 5 September 1965.


3  W.L. Roberts papers, order no 139b, job 103 (February 1927): cost £315


4  Further research is needed to ascertain its acquisition by Holy Trinity.  However, through 1881 into 1882 Rendall was working on the Brougham Place instrument.  Arthur Hobday clearly thought Rendall was disheartened and would not last long in the profession:  Fincham & Hobday letters 12/37 (30 December 1881); ibid., 12/41 24 (January 1882):  Hobday to Fincham (transcription (incomplete) by Ronald G. Newton 1994).  Information re builders plate supplied Ralph Holden 9 May 2009.  See section under Marananga re Rendall.


5  Naylor B., Organ Building in S

outh Australia (unpublished thesis M Mus University of Adelaide, 1973), p.255, is quoting from Dodd Letter Books 1888-1898 pp.18, 19 and 20.  Unfortunately these books are unavailable and therefore have not been transcribed.


6  Stiller J., Documentation St Cyprian’s Anglican Church North Adelaide Organ 7 January 1980, p.1


7  Music (May 1897), p.10.


8  Naylor, B., op.cit. pp.684-85 quoting Adelaide Church Guardian (October 1949) and article on early Adelaide theatre organs by Baden Pike The Vox (April May 1964), pp.4-


5.  However, this organ does not appear in the Wurlitzer opus list at the following website: and it is possible the name of the building was the Astra Theatre.  Howard Laurie Hill OAM learnt from John Dunn at St Peter’s Cathedral.  Aged 19 when appointed to St Cyprian’s, he retired in 1949: St Cyprian’s North Adelaide Centenary Adelaide (983), pp.9, 13


9  ‘Organ Music Through The Centuries’, OMS Newsletter, vol 19 no 3 (March 1986), p.8


10  Information supplied Ralph Holden 9 May 2009

Photo: JRM

Photos: Rodney Ford (Oct 2009)