University Organ Committee - Administrative History

Following a memorandum from the Chancellor, Sir William Manning, dated 12 November 1878, the Senate approved his recommendation to form the Organ Committee. The members were the Chancellor, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Gurney, Mr Cecil Stephen, and Mr John Kinloch. At some later stage, Sir Patrick Jennings, a prominent contributor, and Alexander Oliver, a distinguished graduate of the University, were apparently co-opted. The first meeting of the Committee was on Thursday 31 December, 1878.

In a letter included in the records, F.L.S. Merewether outlines the ways in which he began to solicit subscriptions some years before, as Chancellor. Merewether (1811-1899), was a foundation Fellow of Senate, Chancellor, 1862-1865, and sometime auditor of NSW. He states that only Wentworth, Professor John Smith and himself were prepared to subscribe, of all the Fellows of Senate. By September 1878, a total of 265 pounds had been subscribed, and this had also accumulated interest of 197 pounds & 10 shillings, a total of 462 pounds & 10 shillings.

Following the circulation of specifications, 2 tenders were apparently sent via F.L.S. Merewether, who then resided in England. E. T. Blackett was instructed to consider the structural alterations to the interior of the Great Hall, and the tender of Forster and Andrews was accepted in February 1880. The organ arrived on the ‘Balmore’ in October 1881. By that date, the organ had cost 1641 pounds, 11 shillings & 4 pence.

By 1882, the Committee had virtually completed its task.