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Hill, Norman & Beard Factory, Clifton Hill

In order to handle a large number of orders for church organs, plus the prestigious new organ for Melbourne Town Hall, Wm. Hill & Son and Norman & Beard Ltd., the long-established British firm of organ-builders, set up an Australian subsidiary (Hill, Norman & Beard {Australia} Pty. Ltd.), whose head office and works were located at 6-10 Page Street, Clifton Hill in August, 1927. [Rushworth, Graeme, Historic Organs of New South Wales., p. 208]

About a year later, the first imported Christie organs started to arrive from England. It was intended that in time, these organs would contain a high Australian content, but the market had all but dried up before this could be achieved. The first Christie built in Australia (but which was said to contain some imported parts) [Gliddon, Robert, "Epping Baptist Church", TOSA News, TOSA (NSW), Sydney, June, 1986, p. 14] was set up in the works as a demonstration instrument:

The organ was a two-manual, seven rank instrument of some-what unusual design. Its ranks were: Tuba, Violin Diapason, Violin CÚleste, Tibia, Clarinet, Vox Humana and Echo Violin, plus Vibraphone (the first on a Christie in Australia), Xylophone, Orchestra Bells, Chimes and traps (no silent picture effects).

The organ was sold in 1932 to the Duke of York Theatre in the Sydney suburb of Eastwood, and is now in the Baptist Church, Epping, where it has been rebuilt as a two-manual, ten rank theatre organ (1985).

A further small Christie organ, of two manuals and five ranks, was built in 1937 at Clifton Hill for the Astra Theatre, Parramatta, NSW, but this is not known to have been publicly heard at the factory before being installed in the theatre, although it would no doubt have been erected and tested there.

On 12 May, 1965, TOSA (Vic) members visited the factory, and among the items they saw there was the new console for the organ of the Lyceum Theatre, Sydney, which organ was then being rebuilt after the fire in the theatre. [Vox, May, 1965, p. 2]

Hill, Norman & Beard's Australian operations ceased in December, 1974, and the factory was closed, its contents being sold. [Rushworth, Graeme, Historic Organs of New South Wales., p. 209]

 

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