When Mr Broadhurst founded St Peter’s in 1936, he purchased a magnificent pipe organ for the chapel. Mr Broadhurst loved music, and twice-daily chapel services were an integral part of the School. The chapel organ was built by Lawton and Osborne of Onehunga and Aberdeen. Considered the “finest organ in the province (outside Auckland itself) it features 32 stops in total on the Swell, Great, Choir and Pedal organ including a full range of couplers. Today it is still one of only two three-manual pipe organs in the Waikato. Right through until the 1970s the chapel not only hosted worship services, but also regular concerts and recitals.
First Upgrade –
In the 1970’s it was decided to install an electronic solid-state system along the lines of a transistor radio. The action of the original organ – the mechanics of pressing a key at the console and having a pipe play on the other side of the building – was tubular pneumatic. As the organ aged, the action became more and more sluggish. The Old Boys’ Association at the time voted to preserve the organ and began fundraising. The overhaul of the organ was completed in the 1980s by George Croft & Sons.
Current Restoration Needs –
Now that the organ is 85 years old, it is time to overhaul the instrument again – to clean it, replace the electrical transmission system and resize the console. The biggest expense is to remove the brittle, out-dated solid-state system and replace it with a digital capture system to ensure its’ reliability and take it to the St Peter’s centennial celebration. The cost of these works is $180,000, and will take 6 months to complete. The work will be undertaken by the South Island Organ Company, the leading restorer of organs in New Zealand.
At present, the Organ Restoration Fund has a balance of $60K. Another $120,000 is required to complete the restoration project. The aim is to secure the funding within a year.
The pipe organ at St Peter’s remains an important part of the School’s chapel services. It has huge historical significance and it is important to preserve this fine instrument. However, it is not just St Peter’s students and alumni that will benefit from the project. Community groups are eager to use the St Peter’s chapel, but are unable to use the organ until it is fixed. St Peter’s is also one of the few schools in New Zealand able to offer organ lessons to students – very important if a new generation of organists is to be trained. Both St Peter’s and the wider community will benefit from this campaign.