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St Brigid's Roman Catholic Church, Northbridge

St Brigid's Church
Photo: Kerry Raymond

The bell tower

View of the choir gallery and organ from the front of the church

Organ with small display to church and wider presentation to choir

The 1964 console

St Brigid's
The setter system

Name of institution St. Brigid's Catholic Church
Type of institution Church
Street Address Corner Aberdeen and Fitzgerald Street
City Northbridge / West Perth
State Western Australia
Country Australia
Name of building St. Brigid's Catholic Church
Name of room Church sanctuary
Dates of the building 1905
Architect’s and builder’s names
Special architectural features The church is built in Federation Gothic style with walls of red brick. The church is about 60 feet wide and 115 feet long and the height to the ceiling is 40 feet. There are three aisles giving access to seating for 700-800 people. There is a large rose window over the main entrance on Fitzgerald Street with another entrance on Aberdeen Street. On the corner nearest Fitzgerald and Aberdeen Streets, the stairs to the choir are extended up to a tower containing a belfry. The church bell was imported from England. The windows on the side are mullioned and traceried with the surrounds being made of freestone. The roof is made of Green Welsh slate. The furniture in the church was custom-made from solid polished jarrah timber.

The convent has an oratory and features a hammer-beamed trussed roof. The windosw are painted dado and leadlight panel bay windows with gold-painted arches.  The school is a two-storey building in the Federation Arts and Craft style.

[Heritage Council of Western Australia: Register of Heritage Places: St Brigid's Group, Perth]
Special fittings

Other location information

On 16 July 1888, Sisters Berchmans Deane and John Evangelist Stewart of the Sisters of Mercy commenced the operation of a school in a cottage on John Street. The school (called St Brigid's) quickly attracted many pupils and, in six months, plans were underway for a larger school. On 1 Feb 1889 (the feast of St Brigid), Bishop Gibney laid the foundation stone for a large school building. Student numbers continued to grow, necessitating the construction of a convent chapel with accommodation for larger numbers of the Sisters of Mercy required to run the school. As the number of Sisters increased, the convent building was progressively extended. The convent building was completed in 1896.[The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879-1954)]

In 25 May 1896, the convent became an independent community of the Sisters of Mercy (previously it had been affiliated with the Convent of the Immaculate Conception in Victoria Square). This allowed the convent to accept novices and postulants.

In 1901, the parish of St Brigid's was established and Monsignor Bourke was appointed as parish priest. The nuns provided access to the school buildings for church services, but this was very inconvenient to constantly re-arrange everything, so a committee was formed in April 1901 to raise funds for the building a church and a presbytery.

In 1902, the presbytery was built facing Aberdeen Street. In February 1904, the plans had been drawn up for the church itself and the foundation stone was laid in May 1904. The church was built on the corner of Fitzgerald Street and Aberdeen Street and was officially opened on Sunday 5 February 1905.

By 1974, the area, once residential, had become more of a commercial and industrial area. As a result, there were very few students. It was decided that the Sisters would sell the convent to the Western Australian State Government to be used by organisations such as the Department of Corrections and for Technical and Further Education (TAFE).

In 1991, the church precinct was classified by the National Trust of Australia. The State Government offered the Sisters the opportunity to buy back the convent and a community grant was used to restore the buildings. The Sisters returned to St Brigid's in 1998 and the precinct was heritage listed in 2004.

In 2011, the St Brigid’s Convent is used as the Congregation administration offices of the Sisters of Mercy in West Perth. The historical records of the Sisters are kept in the cottage where the school began.
Name of contact
Mailing Address
Telephone 08 9227 7956
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 Choir gallery with reduced display facing the nave
Case description Typical Dodd organ case in dark timber with corbelled display pipes in a central tower surrounded by two very small flats.  The organ is laid out with the Swell against the side wall of the church, the Great immediately in front and the Pedal at the back of the organ (to the left side as you view it from the gallery).
Placement in room Rear of the building
Builder's name J.E. Dodd, Adelaide.
Opus number
Date of completion/installation 1905 / 06
Construction materials
Number of manuals Two (2)
Key compasses CCC - ccc
Number of keys 61 (56 note ranks)
Key material Ivory covered naturals and ebony sharps
Pedal compass CCC - F
Number of pedals 30
Pedalboard type Concave and radiating
Pedalboard material
Type of chests
Type of key action Electro-pneumatic
Type of stop action Electro-pneumatic
Swell sub octave
Swell super octave
Swell to Great
Swell to Great sub
Swell to Great super
Great super octave
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal
Tremulants Swell
Accessories Three pistons under Swell keyboard, three under Great, repeated as toe studs, all general pistons and indiviudually settable.
Toe stud (reversable) Great to Pedal coupler.
Console type Modernised console with stop tabs
Stop label material
Placement Detached and located across choir gallery
General design
Playing aids Balanced Swell pedal, swing down setter panels for pistons.
Divisions    Great, Swell, Pedal
Wind pressures
Stop list
Open Diapason 8'
Claribel 8'
Dulciana 8'
Principal 4'
Hohl Flute 8'
Voli d'Orchestre 8'
Flauto Traverso 4'
Oboe 8'
Bourdon 16'
Echo 16'
Viola 8'
Fifteenth 4'
Total number of stops 12 stops
Total number of ranks 12 ranks (56 pipes to manual divisions)
Total number of pipes 646 pipes
Dates when key work has been undertaken on current organ Rebuilt 1964 by J.E. Dodd & Sons Gunstar Organ Works, Adelaide.
Dates of any moves that have taken place to current organ
Information on current organ
Comparable instruments to current organ J E Dodd built many organs of a similar nature for churches throughout Australia.
Current status In very good condition.
Assessment of organ
Other organs by this builder St. Matthew's Anglican Church, Guildford
Ross Memorial Church, West Perth
St. Thomas' Catholic Church, Claremont
Photographs Photograph of the church by Kerry Raymond
Photographs of the church tower and interior by Bruce Duncan
Technical documents 
General documents
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 01 January 2009.
Additional information from Wickipedia 22 February 2011.
Additional photographs and details by Bruce Duncan 23 February 2011.