St. Andrew’s Uniting Church Scone celebrating the centenary of their Estey Pipe Organ

AT Scone’s St. Andrew’s Uniting Church, it stands tall and grand.

One of only four imported from America early last century, it is the only one still in use today in Australia. 

It is the Estey Pipe Organ and Scone’s Ann Martin is currently the only organist to light up the church with its music.

She said it’s only fitting to celebrate the centenary of the unique instrument, given the number of weddings and funerals that have taken place in the church over the last 100 years with the sound of the Estey Pipe Organ creating memories for many local families.

Mrs Martin has put in hours of work into marking the occasion, which she has named “A Pleasant Sunday Afternoon”.

She is inviting the community to come along to a special service on Sunday September 9 featuring various organists, instrumentalists, a soloist and The Scone Singers, of which she is a part of. 

The afternoon will also feature a performance by the Conservatorium Choir and a small display put together by the Scone Historical Society in the hall to look at over afternoon tea.

Whether you are part of the church, have a passion for musical instruments or perhaps an interest in history – everyone is welcome. 

Mrs Martin says the present St. Andrews Uniting Church was opened in 1911 and although the organ was ordered in 1912 it was not dedicated until 1918 as a memorial to members of the Congregation who fought in the war.

A sign on the organ reads “Dedicated To Our Soldiers”. A list of names on the side of the organ is dedicated to those fallen.

Of the four organs imported to Australia, one went to the Crystal Palace Theatre in George Street Sydney in 1908 but was destroyed by fire in 1931.

Another went to the Catholic Church in Manly but it was broken up in 1970.

The third was supplied in 1913 to St. Stephens Presbyterian, now the Uniting Church in Toowoomba Queensland and it too was damaged by fire in 1989 and removed.

Mrs Martin proudly recollects the many years she has played the grand instrument in Scone, having no official training she says she just “picked it up” but has been playing since she was a girl.

She says it appears that all regular organists at the church have been female.

“Miss B.G. Connolly was organist until 1931 and was sometimes assisted by Mrs. A.D. MacCallum and Miss Dorothy Asser,” she said.

“Mrs MacCallum became the regular organist and remained so until her death in 1959.

“Towards the end of her life Mrs MacCallum was assisted by Mrs Joan Mannell who then became organist for many years.

“Her contribution to the life of St.Andrews is well documented, not only her organ playing but with leading a junior choir, teaching dancing as well as piano and of course the annual concerts that were so popular with students and parents alike and they raised much money for the church.”

Millicent Smith sometimes filled in for Mrs Mannell and in 1980 Heila Snyman and Ann Martin also shared playing for services until Heila moved to Wagga Wagga.

“Mrs Margaret Neville also helped out during the time she and her husband Ross were in Ministry here,” Mrs Martin said.

Mrs Martin is now the only organist, ably assisted by Jan Crawford playing the piano for many services.

The centenary service at St Andrew’s Uniting Church, Scone will begin at 2pm on Sunday September 9 followed by afternoon tea in the church hall.

The church is located on the corner of Main and Kingdon Streets.

Entry will be by a donation towards Scripture in the Upper Hunter High Schools.

For further enquiries Contact Ann Martin 65451576.

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