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Sacred Heart Catholic Basilica, Timaru

A cleaning and overhaul of the 2 manual 25 rank 1912 Hobday organ has commenced in August 2019, focusing on renewal of the fine leathers of its pneumatic action, many of which are still original. Remarkably, the slider soundboards and double-rise reservoir are still in excellent original condition and can still be left for another time.

We are now happy to report that the factory stage of this work has been completed. The organ is awaiting to be re-installed some time in the new year.

SIOC restored the organ in 1986 and it continues to be one of the most satisfying of New Zealand’s heritage instruments to hear and play.

The Basilica designed by Frank Petre is currently closed for major strengthening and refurbishment to bring it up to 67% of the earthquake code. The significance of this work has a new poignancy following the recent announcement that the Christchurch Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament (Petre’s 1905 magnum opus) is to be deconstructed. We anticipate that both the Timaru church and organ will be recommissioned before Easter next year.

Five ranks of the organ’s pipes survive from the 1848 organ built by Gray and Davison for St Patrick’s Church Sydney that was sold to Sacred Heart parish in 1894 and erected in the old wooden church which burnt down in 1907. Arthur Hobday tragically died by his own hand during the installation of the 1912 organ.

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More than a Pipe Dream

This book pays homage to the highly skilled individuals in the South Island Organ Company who have dedicated so much of their lives to designing, building and restoring pipe organs, highly complex musical instruments as they are. It unveils an impressive amount of detail about this unique company's development, achievements and adventures, including secrets of the instruments construction and the art of restoration, all of which is presented in a highly readable manner so that you will never feel overwhelmed by technical jargon.

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  • "Thrilled to have the book arrive today. What a gorgeous production it is and how poignant the earthquake stories and images. Thank you and I will enjoy it in greater detail as the days go by". - Tim McWhannell
  • "The book has arrived....amidst the busy day, I just had to have a quick flip through. I am absolutely gobsmacked!  What a magnificent publication -accolades all round!
    You have exceeded!  I am wordless, and speechless!
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  • To John: "I enjoyed the book...indeed more than a pipe dream, that's for sure. From it I can see you've had a  remarkable and interesting career amongst some great talented craftsmen and artisans and have formed a great company in SIOC which you must be proud of. The tragedy of the losses SIOC suffered with the deaths of your men following the earthquakes is so sad and I am sure is a deep loss to you and Val personally. But what an outstanding first 50 years" - Craig Maclean & family
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