The pipe organ at St James' Anglican Church, Glen Iris, was originally built in Melbourne by George Fincham (1828-1910) in 1878 for St Matthew's Anglican Church, Prahran, as a two-manual 'mechanical-action' instrument with pedal board. It had 18 stops, 3 couplers and a total of about 1100 pipes. St James purchased it from St Matthews in 1933 and after considerable refurbishment to the timber soundboards, it was rebuilt and installed in the old St James Church building by W.L. Roberts in 1934.
The current St James church building was completed in 1959 and the pipe organ was moved and rebuilt there by R.W.Elliston. During this 'rebuild', the 'mechanical' action was replaced by an 'electro-pneumatic' action, the two 56 note keyboards were extended to the current 61 note format and the pedal board was extended from 30 to 32 notes.
In 1972, the organ underwent a major overhall and was totally rebuilt by Laurie Pipe Organs. Sadly, due to a fire in the church on March 20th 1983, the organ suffered considerable heat and water damage, but was able to be totally restored and reinstated again by Laurie Pipe Organs later in 1983. Fortunately, the original 'Fincham' pipe work was not permanently damaged and remains to this day. In fact, the St James' pipe organ is one of the very few 'George Fincham' organs of this era with most of its original 1878's pipe work still intact. It currently has 2 manuals, 31 stops, 5 couplers and a total of about 1500 pipes - somewhat more than its original specifications of 1878.
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