Pipe Organs of Malaysia
ALL SAINTS CHURCH
J. A. Riddell
The 120-year-old All Saints Church in Taiping today remains largely unchanged from the early days of its existence. Designed by Australian architect D Lefroy and built on a site donated by W.V. Drummond, a planter from Shanghai, the wooden church structure is made of meranti panels with hardwood frames, and a quaint louvered tower with four tubular bells. Perhaps the most striking feature of the church is the stained glass window installed in 1911. Amazingly, the work of art remains intact, “surviving” the war.
The present pipe organ in this church is a 1938 Riddell but what is not publicly known is that this is All Saints Church’s fourth pipe organ.
The first pipe organ was by an unknown American organ builder, possibly second-hand, which was installed in September 1902 at the cost of $603. In less than a decade the organ had become unplayable (possibly because it was not tropicalised) and Rev. Canon Barton Parkes decided to purchase another second-hand pipe organ (organ builder unknown) which used to be in the Masonic Hall in Singapore. This second pipe organ was assembled and commissioned in the last quarter of 1911.
By 1925, the second pipe organ was on its last legs and a decision was made to purchase a third pipe organ. This organ was first played on Sunday, 25 April 1926 by Dr. Read. However, in less than a decade, this pipe organ also needed replacement but this time it was decided to get a Riddell pipe organ which would be able to withstand the humidity and dampness of Taiping.
Mr James A. Riddell and his assistants spent 7 months or approximately 10,000 man hours to construct a tropicalised pipe organ with 300 tin and tropical wood pipes. Tin was used instead of iron or steel in order to avoid rusting. The display pipes were milled in England. The organ was completed in Kuala Lumpur and then transported to and assembled in All Saints Church in August 1938.
This organ is a near twin to the 1939 Riddell pipe organ which was installed in St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Kuala Lumpur the following year. The only difference being that the St Andrew’s organ had an additional display pipe. This organ was badly damaged during WW2 but repaired and restored by Mr. Riddell after the war.
Specification of the organ is:
Organ photographs and specification from Leonard Selva.
Additional information from Andrew Hwang, Kuala Lumpur, 20 March 2012, with reference to:
(1) Straits Times of 4 September 1902 on page 5
(2) Straits Times of 21 August 1911 on page 6
(3) Straits Times of 28 August 1913 on page 8
(4) Straits Times of 30 April 1926 on page 8
(5) Straits Times of 7 August 1938 on page 2
(6) Straits Times of 23 November 1947 on page 7
(7) Minutes of Board of Managers, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Kuala Lumpur 1938.
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