St Matthews Church

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The Organ

St Matthews

The organ at St Matthews Church was built in 1911 by J. E. Dodd, Adelaide.

St Matthew’s pipe organ celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2011.  The anniversary was commemorated with an organ recital to a capacity audience who filled every seat and spilled into the aisles.

This was reminiscent of the inaugural recital on July 5 1911 given by AJ Leckie, organist at St George’s Cathedral, Perth. The West Australian of July 8 1911 reported:
“The congregation more than filled the ordinary seating of the church and additional chairs had to be placed down the aisle”.
The report finished with details of the cost of the organ: Total cost 495 pounds, 75 pounds from the sale of the old organ, 390 pounds in hand, 18 pounds from the recital collection, leaving about 12 pounds to raise.

The organ was built by J.E. Dodd of Adelaide, replacing an earlier R.C. Clifton organ installed in 1884 which was moved to St Aidan’s Church, Claremont, where it is still located.

Originally the organ was pumped manually and old vestry records show that a Mr Phipps was appointed organ blower at a salary of 10 pounds a year. When he asked for a pay rise to 12 pounds a year, the vestry agreed on condition that he also rang the bell before all services.  Later the organ had a hydraulic pump, using water pressure.  This pump still resides below the floor level of the organ chamber.  An electric blower was installed in 1927 and in 1951 the organ was converted from pneumatic to electro- pneumatic action. 

In 1994 a new mechanical action for the organ was constructed, although this was never completed. At this time, the original Great Claribel was replaced by a Lieblich Gedact of Dodd manufacture. The original Dulciana was cut down to provide a Fifteenth.

A generous legacy from the estate of ex choir member Donald Frederick Darcy Longson in 2002 was given to the church for the purposes of restoration and maintenance of the pipe organ.

In 2004 the organ was totally overhauled and, in 2010, the super and sub octave couplers were returned to service that had not been heard for more than 50 years, giving the organ a very full tonal array and hearty sound.  The organ now uses a state-of-the-art transmission system and is highly regarded.

In 2016 a totally enclosed casework was installed in the organ to prevent ingress of dirt and moisture. At the same time a new Pedal Bass Flute 8' was made to provide much more felxibility for that division. The manual pistons, which had been inoperable because the mechanism was destroyed many years ago, were reinstated using electric action. A setter board allows the organist to chose the stops for each piston. The final piece of restoration for the organ was the installation of three toe pedals. It was not possible to determine the original function of these pedals because they and their mechanism had been removed. So the first (left side) of these pedals operates a registration pre-selected by mini-stop buttons installed above the actual console stop tabs. The second toe pedal operates a reconstructed tremulant. The third (right side) toe pedal is a tuti and brings in the full organ. Each of these pedals locks in with a timber fall and is released by toeing the fall back and allowing the pedal to disengage.

8'  Open Diapason
8'  Lieblich Gedact
4'  Principal
4'  Suabe Flute
2'  Fifteenth
Swell to Great
8'  Geigen Diapason
8'  Hohl Flute
8'  Viole d'Orchestre
4'  Flauto Traverso
8'  Oboe
Swell Superoctave
Swell Suboctave
16'  Bourdon
8' Bass Flute
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal

You can find more detail of the organ at the Organ Society of Western Australia web site