The Story of the Pipe Organ

On Saturday 12 February 2022 Dural and District Historical Society and visitors gathered in Galston Uniting Church for its regular meeting with guest presenters from Galston Uniting, Ken Leeson (organist) and Trevor Knight (historian).

Ken outlined the background history of the Forster and Andrews firm of pipe organ builders, emphasising the beneficial impact the exhibitions of 1851 and 1862 upon their business.

Prince Albert played a significant part in establishing the first exhibition. The reputation of Forster and Andrews was built on attention to detail and quality. Every organ was made and assembled in their workshop, then tuned and tested to their satisfaction, before carefully packing every part and shipping it to its destination.

This organ was manufactured in 1887, and gifted to the Bourke Street Congregational Church Darlinghurst by three sisters, EC, ML and CF Baxter at a total cost of £796. It was dedicated for use in 1888. The sisters were groundbreaking educators of young women many of whom excelled academically and were among the first women to graduate from Sydney University.

Trevor shared the story of how the organ came to find a home here at Galston. Originally, there was no thought of a pipe organ. However, Ian Brown our organist was a pipe organ builder and had a vision for a pipe organ.

He knew of just the one which could be included with modification to the proposed church structure. Following much negotiation and a successful application to the Heritage Council of NSW, a team of twenty-two church member volunteers spent over 3000 hours restoring the instrument. The team was motivated, trained and supervised by Ian Brown under the oversight of Christopher Dearnley of the Heritage Council.

The organ was rededicated in this church in 1993, including the prayer of the Baxter sisters: We pray that the organ will ever be used for the purpose for which it has primarily been given, namely to glorify God by assisting the congregation to sing his praises.

Ken then shared with the audience a description of the working of the organ and proceeded to demonstrate is capabilities by playing several suitable pieces of music.