Designed by John Mansfield and completed in 1957, the War Memorial Chapel is a focal point of Barker College’s spiritual learning and worshipping life. The idea for a school chapel was first mooted by the then Headmaster, William Carter, in 1924. The first service to be held in the chapel was for Headmaster, W S Leslie, who sadly died just before it was completed.
THE HISTORY OF THE BARKER COLLEGE CHAPEL ORGAN
1960 – 2007
Compiled by Dr Greg Cunningham, September, 2007
Barker College Chapel Organist, 1997 –
(with additional information supplied by Peter Jewkes and Peter Kneeshaw AM)
The Barker Old Boys gave the two-manual pipe organ of fifteen ranks. The Sydney firm of S.T. Noad and Son installed the instrument in 1961 with the pipes located in a chamber adjoining the south choir stalls. The console is located in an alcove next to the north choir stalls.
Before 2007, there were 1252 pipes in the organ. This includes the extended and borrowed ranks, the non-existent top octaves of the Tierce and Octavin (which double back electrically), the tenor “C” Celeste, and even the two extra non-functioning pipes at the top of the Pedal Open unit – a legacy of an earlier 32-note pedalboard.
The advisor for the organ at Barker was Colin Sapsford, who was the Organist at Christ Church St Laurence at the time. Roger Pogson was in charge of the organ project for S. T. Noad. Sapsford based the scaling of the flue pipes and wind pressures on the famous Hill organ of CCSL. Pogson reports that the Pitman chests gave trouble from the beginning. (The College did not insist on Barker Lever action). Sapsford was also the consultant for the organ at St Stephen’s Church at Normanhurst. Pogson left S.T. Noad after completion of the Barker organ and built the organ at Normanhurst on his own.
Most of the pipework was imported from FJ Rogers of Leeds. Noad and his team manufactured some of the wooden pipes. The original reed on the Swell was an Oboe, but it was replaced soon after by the Horn, which may have been second hand.
Noad maintained the organ until he retired. It is suggested that Arthur Jones maintained the organ circa 1969 until 1978 when Brown and Arkley assumed maintenance of the instrument.
The console was overhauled in 1980. The new solid state switching gave some alarming problems. Occasionally the organ would play every single note down from the top note of whatever chord an organist was playing, to the bottom of the keys. This made for some interesting effects while using full organ. Sometimes it only lasted for less than a second, and other times it would only stop when the player released the chord. Brown and Arkley fitted the keys, Swell Pedal, and a capture system. Tonally and mechanically, nothing in the chamber was altered.
In July 1990, Peter D G Jewkes Pty Ltd first inspected and reported on the organ at the request of Caroline Trotter, Director of Music at Barker College at that time. Between then until 1994 various schemes for its improvement were essayed. Jewkes’s report on the organ revealed that the original quasi-Pitman action by Noad was a constant source of ciphers and dumb notes and incredibly susceptible to climate changes. The layout of the Great soundboard meant that much of the pipework was completely inaccessible for tuning, and it was impossible to set a proper temperament on them.
In 1994 the organ was refurbished. The internal action of the Pitman chests (for all the straight manual stops) was renewed. The layout of the Great chests was modified so that the basses were at each end rather than in the middle so that they could be tuned more easily. A new console was also provided. It retained the 1980 keys and swell pedal, for the sake of economy (and they seemed in reasonable condition at the time).
As mentioned, the original console had more couplers, as the octaves and suboctaves did not read through. There was a Swell Larigot 11/3, which Peter Jewkes transposed to the present Tierce, which was felt would be more use for solo and chorus colouring, especially in the absence of an Oboe. A Larigot can still be contrived by using the Nazard, Octave and Unison Off couplers.
In 2004 the console was again upgraded with new keyboards, piston configuration, capture system and a new stainless steel swell pedal.
SPECIFICATION OF THE Pre-2007 BARKER COLLEGE CHAPEL ORGAN
S T Noad and Son, 1961
Restoration and new console by Peter D G Jewkes, Pty. Ltd., 1994
Two manual console in the chapel choir (2/31 all electric)
Great (61 notes)
Swell (61 notes) – expressive
Voix céleste TC
Swell to Great
Pedal (30 notes)
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Great and Pedal pistons combined
Divisional pistons (16 levels):
6 on Swell; 6 on Great (duplicated by 6 toe levers)
General pistons (96 levels)
6 general pistons with stepped capture system; > and < pistons; 1 > toe lever
Set and Cancel pistons
To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the School Chapel in 2007, the organ was enlarged and refurbished. Peter D G Jewkes Pty. Ltd undertook the contract, with Peter Kneeshaw AM, as the organ consultant. In December 2006, the organ was taken down to allow structural renovations which included enlarging the opening of the organ chamber to permit better tonal egress and the removal of the asbestos ceiling. The Great and Swell divisions were brought forward in the chamber. Two new Pedal stops were installed in the space provided by the relocation of these divisions. The extremely small scale Pedal Bourdon 16′ (borrowed from the Great manual) was replaced with a large-scale stop, extended to 8′ pitch. The Pedal Double Trumpet (also borrowed from the Great) was replaced by a full-length spotted metal Trombone 16′, again extended to 8′, with the Double Trumpet 16’ now both available on the Great and as a second reed on the Pedal.
The original wood and cloth grille that covered the opening of the chamber was replaced by a new working pipe façade, which was designed and constructed by the Jewkes firm, in conjunction with the College architect. The lower grille section was designed and manufactured by the Barker College Maintenance Division. The new casework contains the larger pipes of a new Open Diapason No. 2 for the Great division, along with a new bottom octave for the Open Diapason No. 1. A Clarion 4’ was also added to the Great.
A new notes’ switching system was imported from Solid State Organ Systems (UK) and a larger blower from Aug Laukhuff in Germany was added. Further enhancements include a transposer, MIDI and playback facilities.
Past Chapel organists include Alan Tregaskis, Enid Anderson, Richard Watts, John Scott and Laurie Wigney. The present College organist is Dr Greg Cunningham. Mr Peter Kneeshaw, AM (who teaches organ at Barker) and Mr James Allington, Director of Music, assist in playing for services.