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Forrest Park Methodist Church, Mount Lawley

Mount Lawley Forrest Park Methodist
Interior of Forest Park Methodist Church 1934
The organ was situated behind the grille above the pulpit

Mount Lawley Forrest Park Methodist
Some of the stained glass windows which were taken out on closure of the church.
The windows are now in Mt Lawley Uniting Church

Mount Lawley Forrest Park Methodist

Mount Lawley Forrest Park Methodist

Mount Lawley Forrest Park Methodist

Mount Lawley Forrest Park Methodist

Name of institution Forrest Park Methodist Church
Type of institution Church
Street Address 37 Walcott Street
City Mount Lawley
State Western Australia
Country Australia
Name of building Forrest Park Methodist Church
Name of room
Dates of the building
Architect’s and builder’s names
Special architectural features
Special fittings
Other location information Church closed and the building is now a fine food restaurant
Name of contact
Mailing Address
Other contact information
Previous organ(s)
Date of previous organ None
Detail of previous organ
Dates when key work has been undertaken
Dates of any moves that have taken place
Variations from original design of organ
Information on previous organ
Information about comparable instruments to previous organ
Present organ
Type of installation Organ chamber
Case description Grill facing in to the sanctuary of the Church and a simple false dummy display facing into the church - these pipes were made of galvanised iron down pipes with a simple stencilled pattern.
Placement in room South-West front corner of the church
Builder's name Gunstar Organ Works, Adelaide
Opus number
Date of completion/installation 1940
Contract signed 10th July 1939
Construction materials
Number of manuals Two (2)
Key compasses
Number of keys
Key material
Pedal compass
Number of pedals
Pedalboard type
Pedalboard material
Type of chests
Type of key action Electro-pneumatic
Type of stop action Electro-pneumatic
Couplers Swell to Great, Great Octave,Great Sub
Console type
Stop label material
General design
Playing aids
Wind pressures 4.25 inches
Stop list This stoplist is made up from the recollection of Bob Elms and may not be correctly named and may be incomplete.  The organ was changed considerably in the transition to the new premises at Maylands and many of the old specifcations were no longer decipherable:

Open Diapason 8'
Claribel 8'
Lieblich Gedeckt 8'
Salicional 8' (Swell)
Diapason 4'
Lieblich Gedeckt 4' (Swell)
Fifteenth 2'
Lieblich Gedeckt 16'
Salicional 8'
Gedeckt 8'
Salicional 4'
Gedeckt 4'
Salicional 2'
Labial Oboe
Later Trumpet
8' TC
16' (Swell)
Subbass 16'

Total number of speaking stops 16
Total number of ranks Five (5) extended ranks
Total number of pipes
Dates when key work has been undertaken on current organ
Dates of any moves that have taken place to current organ Rebuilt in 1960 by Paul F Hufner with a Cornopean installed from Davey Street Congregational Church, Hobart, for use as a Trumpet until it was later replaced with a new Trumpet rank.
Removed, rebuilt, enlarged and installed at Maylands Uniting Church in 1985 by Paul F. Hufner.
Information on current organ This was the only organ built in Western Australia by Gunstar Organ Works, Adelaide.  Gunstars were formed in 1935 and their first new organ was the Christadelphian Church in Adelaide, the contract states it was to be completed by 16th March 1936.   It appears Dodd amalgamated with Gunstar Organ Works in June 1944 and the company then became J.E. Dodd & Sons Gunstar Organ Works, Adelaide.
Paul Hufner signed a maintenance agreement with Gunstar in February 1940 and maintained the organ until the 1990's, over 50 years.
The action was electro-pneumatic in stop and key action with the primary action puffers which completed the electric circuit to the pipe magnets. The stop action also worked with switches activated by pneumatic puffers (Wurlitzer style). There were 5 ranks of pipes, extended.
The Pedal Subbass 16' gave a fairly solid sound, and there was also a Pedal Bourdon 16' borrowed from the Swell.  The Subbass did everything required of it but the swell stop which was  of quite small scale  was inaudible from the body of the church and hence the bottom 12 notes were taken out to allow for the addition of the bottom 12 notes for the trumpet.
Comparable instruments to current organ
Current status
Assessment of organ
Other organs by this builder

Photographs of the church from Picassos
Historical photo of church interior sources by Andrew Gardner
Photo of windows by Bruce Duncan

Technical documents 
General documents
Supporting information Bob Elms writes:
In 1941 I was a student of ES Craft at Wesley Church at the time and went to a service to hear the organ played by Bill Arnott the
organist.  It had been installed in 1940 and ES Craft played the opening recital. It all sounded very orchestral in tone to me, only a small 2' as upperwork  and that on the swell, and the ersatz  reed on the swell a stringy Labial Oboe, a larger version of the Salicional which only went to tenor C.. Olwyn Mason became organist after Bill Arnott died suddenly. In 1954 she married Dr. John Francis who lives in Albany now [2010], retired of course, and I took over from her as organist. As the elderly choir master wanted to retire they appointed me as organist/choirmaster, a post I held for 16 years.

I was not completely happy with the organ as far as sound was concerned.  I thought the organ needed a bit more top; it depended on a great super coupler to provide that and it was not very successful.  I proposed that the Open diapason/Octave diapason rank be extended to 2'.  This was done with the addition being gifted to the church by the Anderson family.  John Larner's mother was an Anderson and a lady in the choir Hetty Cooves, his aunt, was also, and so the job was done. Paul Hufner did the job.

Then a second hand Wm HIll trumpet of about 1890 became available through Paul Hufner. It came from Davey Street Congregational Church, a church in Tasmania whose organ Paul
had rebuilt. Paul suggested we try it in the footholes of the Labial Oboe to see how it went. The result was dramatic and the church
bought a new Trumpet rank from Rogers in the UK. It still only went to tenor C however. In the swell box was a  16 foot bourdon of very small scale which actually was inaudible from the nave of the church. It was a downward extension to the Lieblich gedecht. Paul suggested we buy the twelve 8 foot pipes for the bass of the trumpet and substitute them for the bottom octave of the swell bourdon. That would only need some wiring. This was done and the reed rank was complete.

Gunns only had the one job  in this state before they amalgamated with JE Dodd under the name JE Dodd and Sons Gunstar Organ Works. Incidentally the 12 swell bourdon pipes were gifted to Morley Methodist Church to supply a pedal 16' for the organ Larner built there. The Bourdon now is in the organ at private residence Kingsley Jones, Kardinya.

The Gunns, Steve and Gordon I met a few times. Their main man was Lyall von Einem who carried out much of their work in WA. He carried off my assistant organist, Joan Plank, in matrimony and took her back to SA.  Frank Dawson became my assistant after that and carried on as organist/choirmaster after I left for Albany in 1971.  I was organist/choirmaster at Forrest Park for 16 years. There were for some years two choirs, a large and strong choir in the morning, and one of only slightly lesser size and skill for the evening. How times have changed.

The Forrrest Park organ itself was in a purpose built chamber (Wurlitzer style) about 12 feet above the floor of the minister's vestry (to left of the choir and console). There was no screen across the opening - just a large fabric curtain obviously designed to stop the setting sun shining through the rear stained glass windows and the organ chamber openings onto the pipe work.
Unfortunately it also cut back the sound and the high frequencies to a noticeable degree and on Sunday mornings I climbed the ladder and pulled the curtain back to let more sound out. I did discuss with Paul Hufner the possibility of replacing the curtain with an extruded aluminium screen but the western sun posed a problem and we did not do anything about it. Access to the loft was by a steep ladder from the floor of the minister's vestry. The blower was in a cellar underneath the choir and some distance from the console. The blower's intake was just above a lush green lawn, which did nothing for the organ's tuning on a hot summer's morning.

The console was centrally situated in front of the choir, with the
organist's back to the congregation. and facing the choir much as in
Trinity bbut elevated so that the organist was well in view theatre
organ style... The console  was on rollers. If more  space was required for the choir (e.g. Sunday School Anniversaries) a rail was removed and the organ console wheeled out  as far as  the communion rail. It was not moved very often but even I could roll it out without assistance.There was a long cable  under the floor of the choir.

The 2' extension to the Open Diapason would have been around 1957 to 1960. I have no record of the actual date but I got it done as soon as I could. The 1862 Wm Hill Trumpet on the swell was definitely tried out in 1961 and then replaced almost immediately by the new rank mentioned earlier.

The 1862 rank came from Davey Street Congregational Church Hobart, now closed, that organ being moved to the Hutchens School Sandy Bay where it is still in use.  Paul had the Hill Trumpet refurbished and used in the Great organ of St John's Lutheran Church, Aberdeen Street, Perth.  Not many of his organs had trumpets.

That is how the Gunstar organ at Mt Lawley was when I left in 1971. The organists were Frank Dawson, a Dutchman named Hank Vonk and for a time Ron Dickson a distant cousin of mine. Not the Dr Ron Dickinson from the Christian Science Church.
Document control Original entries J R Elms, OAM, Gazetteer of Western Australian Pipe Organs, 1971, 1999,2003 and 2004.
This entry D B Duncan 26 January 2009.
Additional information from Bob Elms 14 February 2009.
Additional information from George Stephens, Bob Elms and Patrick Elms 20 July 2010.
Updated with new photographs 13 August 2018.