The Organ Society of Western Australia

Home In The Pipeline W A Pipe Organs Links Contact Us

Wesley Uniting Church, Perth

Perth Wesley Church

Perth Wesley Church
Wesley Church Perth 1910

Perth Wesley Church

Perth Wesley Church
The Bishop & Sons organ in the chancel position, 1897
Photo sourced by Boyd Peters

Perth Wesley Church
Previous location of console
Mr Watkins playing the organ, 1919.

Perth Wesley Church

Perth Wesley Church

Perth Wesley Church

Perth Wesley Church

Name of institution Wesley Uniting Church
Type of institution Church
Street Address Corner Hay and William Street
City Perth
State Western Australia
Postcode 6000
Country Australia
Name of building Wesley Uniting Church
Name of room Sanctuary
Dates of the building 1867
Architect's and builder's names Richard Roach Jewell
Special architectural features Wesley Church was designed by Richard Roach Jewell, an architect, circuit steward, clerk of colonial works and church member. Jewell was responsible for the design of a number of other prominent Perth buildings, including the Cloisters (1858), the Pensioner Barracks (1863), and extensions and alterations to Government House (1864) and Perth Town Hall (1870). Jewell designed Wesley Church in the fashionable Gothic revival style, a style which he successfully adapted in his other buildings. Jewell's plan for Wesley Church comprised the nave, chancel and bell tower with a tall and elegant spire, and was accepted with one alteration - the relocation of the bell tower from the north-east side to the south-east side.

Wesley Church is built of load bearing brick in the Victorian academic gothic style and features a landmark spire, steeply pitched roofs, parapeted gables, label (hood) moulds and wall buttressing. The church has a strong verticality of form emphasised by tall lancet windows with plate tracery to the east façade. Angle buttresses divide the nave wall into five bays and the major windows have stucco label moulds above them. The bricks of the building, fired at uncertain temperatures in wood burning kilns, show a range of mellow tones and, laid in Flemish bond, create a chequerboard effect on the walls, which provides a decorative element to the walls of the building. The spire is 35 metres high with a weathercock at its point and is surrounded by four smaller spires at its base which are capped by metal finials. The north-east tower replicates these smaller spires above the gable. The roof structure is made of hand sawn timber and the roof covering was originally shingles but, at some point the Church was re-roofed in clay tiles.

Additions and alterations were made in 1895 to the design of Sir J.J. Talbot Hobbs.
Special fittings
Other location information Wesley Church is the oldest Perth City church in its original form still being used as a place of worship, although the nave at St Mary's Cathedral (demolished 2006/7 in readiness for new construction) would have predated it by four years.
Name of contact
Mailing Address
Other contact information Uniting Church in the City web site
Previous organ(s)
Date of previous organ 1875
Detail of previous organ The first pipe organ to be installed in Western Australia was the 1875 Bishop & Son, London and Ipswich, instrument for Wesley Church, Perth.

Open Diapason 8' 56 pipes
Dulciana TC 8' 44 pipes
Clarabella 8' 56 pipes
Stopp'd Diapason Bass 8' 56 pipes
Principal 4' 56 pipes
Twelfth 2 2/3' Labelled 3' 56 pipes
Fifteenth 2' 56 pipes
Se-quialtra III 168 pipes
Violin Diapason 8' 44 pipes
Leiblich Gedact Bass 8' 56 pipes
Leiblich Gedact Treble 8' 56 pipes
Geigen Principal 4' 56 pipes
Oboe TC 8' 44 pipes
Swell to Great
Bourdon 16' 29 pipes
Swell to Pedals
Great to Pedals
There were three combination pedals.

Almost certainly the count of pipes shown above are incorrect, attributed perhaps to the reporter not being familiar with treble and bass ranks.
The stoplist comes from a March 1875 newspaper clipping, quoting Mr Shenton for providing the description.
The case is described as of Gothic design in stained Kowrie Pine, with the display pipes coloured. The wood pipes are of selected Honduras Mahogany. The console was of polished oak.
Dates when key work has been undertaken There are no records of any changes ever taking place to the organ.
Dates of any moves that have taken place In 1908 the organ was moved next door to Queens Hall, William Street, Perth (later Metro Theatre), to make way for a new organ.

In 1926 the Bishop & Son organ was relocated by W L Roberts Ltd, Adelaide, to Wesley Methodist Church, Claremont (job no 96).

In 1984 Hale School Assembly Hall, Hale Road, Wembley Downs, became the organ's next home. The organ suffered considerable damage in a storm in March 2010 and has been taken down and placed in storage.
Variations from original design of organ There were no apparent changes in the original location.
Information on previous organ This two manual organ served the church for over 30 years in its original location.
Information about comparable instruments to previous organ Another Bishop & Son organ was installed in Western Australia in 1901. This organ was installed in St Patrick's Basilica, Fremantle
Present organ
Type of installation Left chancel elevated chamber
Case description A distinctive three-tower Dodd case, with carved corbels, bands and transom rails. Display pipes are enlivened with discrete coloured banding and guilding.

There is a dummy rank of pipes acting as a display to the main body of the church.
Placement in room Left chancel, above choir stalls
Builder's name J E Dodd
Opus number
Date of completion/installation 1908
Construction materials Dark Western Red Cedar case, Jarrah Console with Oak inlay, Ivory stop heads, Ivory Keys
Number of manuals Three (3)
Key compasses CC - ccc
Number of keys 61
Key material
Pedal compass
Number of pedals 30
Pedalboard type Radiating
Pedalboard material
Type of chests
Type of key action Electro-pneumatic
Type of stop action Electro-pneumatic
Couplers Swell Super
Swell Sub
Swell Unison Off
Choir Super
Choir Sub
Choir Unison Off
Tremulants Swell, Choir
Accessories 40 Stage memory
6 Divisional pistons
10 General pistons
Reversible coupler & pistons
Adjustable bench
Console type Drawstop, detached, movable
Stop label material Ivory
Placement 45 degree jambs
General design
Playing aids Swell/Choir pedal with position indicator
Crescendo pedal
Divisions Great, Swell, Choir, Positive, Pedal
Wind pressures
Stop list
Contra Dulciana 16' A
Open Diapason 8'
Melodic Diapason 8'
Lieblich Gedact 8'
Dulciana 8' A
Clarabel 8'
Principal 4'
Flute 4'
Twelfth 2 2/3'
Fifteenth 2'
Tierce 1 3/5'
Fourniture IV
Trumpet 8'
Lieblich Gedact 16' B
Geigen Diapason 8'
Hohlflote 8'
Viole d'Orchestre 8'
Celeste II 8'
Flute 4'
Octave 4'
Mixture III
Oboe 8'
Horn 8'
Vox Humana 8'
Rohr Flute 8'
Viol d'Ochestra 8'
Unda Maris 8' (TC)
Suabe Flute 4'
Harmonic Piccolo 2'
Sesquialtera II
Orchestral Oboe 8'
Clarionet 8'
Tuba 8'
Harmonic Bass 32' C
Open Diapason 16'
Sub Bass 16' C
Bourdon 16' B
Dulciana 16' A
Principal 8' D
Flute 8' C
Dulciana 8' A
Principal 4' D
Twelfth 5 1/3' D
Trombone 16' E
Trumpet 8' E
Total number of stops 61
Total number of ranks 35
Total number of pipes 3,000
Dates when key work has been undertaken on current organ Originally built as a 2 manual/pedal organ.

New Choir division built in 1927.

Rebuilt 1994 by F J Larner & Co. New console of Jarrah with White Oak inlays. Front pipes restencilled by Graham Devenish. New memory system and crescendo pedal installed.
Dates of any moves that have taken place to current organ
Information on current organ Bob Elms writes:
    An interesting point about Wesley Church's first organ, the Bishop. I remember being told (by E S Craft maybe) that the original organ was in the rear gallery. It was mechanical action of course. However I have no proof of that.

    When Roberts rebuilt and enlarged the present instrument the console was moved from its position in the organ case to a position behind the pulpit which was at that time centrally located in front of the choir, with the console in the centre where the organist could conduct the choir. The console was sunk into the floor and the organist had to descend with a little difficulty to the stool which meant he was sitting at floor level. I said "he" but there were as many ladies as men with Aggie Read, Thelma Bassett and Yvoenne Rees and some other later, Evelyn Thompson the last. I played for a Conference service a few times when my Forrest Park Choir was asked to provide the music. That was in the time of ES Craft. Craft took over from EJ Watkin I believe. I heard Watkin play for one service. Fiery playing with plenty of reed tone!

    The console is now back in the position used by Roberts in 1927 but the choir was then behind it divided on each side and the pulpit was in front of the console hiding it. The console was sunk into the floor whereas now it seems to be in a position of prominence.

    When Evvy
    [Evelyn] Thompson was there the console was moved to the front row of pews in the nave part of the church. It seems it is back in the ES Craft position again but without the choir and pulpit and not sunk to below floor level with the organist virtually sitting on the floor!!..

    Then I was right about the initial position of the console in 1908, occupying the same position en fenetre as the 1903 rebuild in St George's Cathedral. In the Cathedral the console was moved to floor level some time around 1928 and remained there until the Walker rebuild in 1958.
Comparable instruments to current organ The organ at St Mary's Cathedral is often considered a sister instrument to this organ, Both organs were of a similar size and tonal design, built by J E Dodd in 1908.
Current status The organ is well maintained and in good order
Assessment of organ
Other organs by this builder J E Dodd is responsible for the building of many organs in Australia.
Photographs Photograph of church exterior by Dan Arndt
Photographs of organ by Pastór de Lasala, Mark Quarmby, Bruce Duncan and Graham Devenish
Photograph of 1919 organ from State Library of Western Australia
Technical documents Details of the organ from Pipe Organs WA Pty Ltd.
General documents

Wesley Church Organ Centenary
In The Pipeline article

Supporting information
Document control Original entries J R Elms, OAM, Gazetteer of Western Australian Pipe Organs, 1971, 1999,2003 and 2004.
This entry D B Duncan 15 December 2008.
Photograph of 1919 organist from State Library of WA made available via Andrew Gardner 07 December 2010.
Additional information and comments from Bob Elms 08 December 2010.
Additional detail from F J Larner & Co brochure, 2000.
Photograph of the Bishop organ from Boyd Peters, 25 March 2021.
Bishop organ stoplist and newspaper cutting from Boyd Peters, 27 April 2021.