History of St Columb's Hawthorn

The church building is named after St Columb's Cathedral in Northern Ireland.

St Columb lead Christian missionaries from Ireland to Scotland just over 1400 years ago. This action was one of the most significant events in European Christian history, especially British.

The first 100 years of the history of this church community is described in Jane Carolan's book St. Columb's Hawthorn 1883-1983. This book is currently out of stock but electronic copies can be obtained from our office via office@stc.org.au

St Columb’s Church was designed by George Wharton and built 1882-83 in bluestone with freestone dressings in the Decorated Gothic style.  The building was completed in 1907 by architects H.W. & F.B. Tompkins, but without the intended tower and spire to the south-west.  It remains substantially unaltered and retains many of its original fittings including carved woodwork and stained glass by William Montgomery, Alan Sumner and others.

Our Incumbents

1883 Thomas Henry Armstrong

1894 William Carey Ward

1900 Clifford Harris Nash

1907 Henry Frederick Mercer

1912 Denis Murrell Deasey

1932 John Clive Herring

1937 Leonard Leslie Wenzel

1952 Colin Henry Duncan

1956 William Irving Fleming

1965 John Burbury Moroney

1986 Graeme James Winterton

1991 Neil Sebastian Bach

2000 Steve Craig Webster

2007 Michael Flynn

2021 Mark McDonald

Pipe Organ - The first organ, from 1883 is now installed at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Murwillumbah NSW 

The present organ is a B 1923 Roberts Ltd; reb 1954 George Fincham & Sons.  [the details are: 2m, 24spst, 7c, elpn. Gt: Sw: Ped:]

The first pipe organ was built by William Stone, of St Kilda.  It cost £250 and was opened on 23 November 1884.  This instrument was placed in a chamber on the left hand side of the temporary chancel and had a case with two outer towers and a central flat very similar to the 1879 Stone organ now at The Avenue Church, Blackburn, Victoria.  It was sold in 1923 to St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Murwillumbah, NSW where it still remains, following a rebuild by Whitehouse Bros. in 1954.

The present organ was built by Roberts Ltd, of Melbourne and Adelaide, and opened in 1923.  It is placed in an organ chamber on the south side of the chancel, with an arch facing into the south transept, both filled with unpainted zinc pipes (those facing the transept are dummy).  The blower is placed in an external chamber.

The pipe organ at St Columb’s Church, Hawthorn is significant for the following reasons:

· It retains its original tonal scheme of 1923 with a generous selection of romantic tone colours and Diapason choruses on each manual

· It is the most substantial example of its builder’s work that remains tonally intact 

· It exhibits a generous approach to construction and incorporates imported metal pipework of excellent tonal quality 

· It is an important example of 1920s indigenous organbuilding 

· Most examples of Roberts’ major work have been altered by rebuilding or destroyed 

· The casework is distinctive and unusual, with its pointed towers and rare double-tiered flats 

· No additions to the initial tonal scheme have been made 

· The existence of a very rare double-mouth stopped wooden Doppel Flöte rank placed at the front of the Great windchest for optimum tonal projection.

The firm of Roberts Ltd was founded by William Leopold Roberts.  Born at Bramley, Leeds in 1882, Roberts was apprenticed to the notable English organbuilder J.J. Binns at his Bramley Organ Works.  In 1909 he was engaged by the Adelaide organbuilder J.E. Dodd, starting his own firm around 1915.  His work could soon be found in four Australian states: South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.  The largest new instrument he built was for All Saints’ Anglican Church, East St Kilda (1924).  Using imported metal pipework, his instruments were especially admired for their tonal qualities, A.E.H. Nickson commenting that “Mr. Roberts in my opinion having fully justified the confidence placed in him as the leading Organ Builder in our Southern States”.  His instruments were also of interest for their varied and distinctive case designs.  Roberts retired in 1945 and passed away in Adelaide in August 1971.  Sadly, few of his instruments survive intact and generally have not been respected for their fine tonal qualities.

The instrument was rebuilt in 1954 by George Fincham & Sons Pty Ltd.  At this time the original tubular-pneumatic action was converted to electro-pneumatic and a new detached stopkey console placed on the opposite side of the chancel, replacing the original stopkey console, which was placed within the chancel case.  The tonal scheme remained unaltered.  The instrument is now in need of considerable renovation.

The instrument is classified by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria).