In 1927, Professor A.D. Ross, Chairman of the Music Advisory Board, first proposed that a pipe organ should form an integral part of Winthrop Hall.
It was originally intended that the organ would be installed on the completion of the building. However due to the financial strain placed on the University during the Depression and World War II, they were forced to delay its installation until 1965, years after the completion of Winthrop Hall.
During this period, the Henry Holiday Cartoon stood on stage in its intended location.
In 1959, the McGillivray Bequest provided funding to be used at the discretion of the University. It was decided that half of it would be used for the purchase of Winthrop Hall’s organ.
The organ is situated behind the orchestra staging on a specially constructed, shallow curved platform running across the whole width of Winthrop Hall. It took J.W. Walker and Sons Ltd of Ruislip, England one year to build at a cost of £30,000 using eight miles of wire, and more than 60 craftsmen in its construction.
The organ has a three-panel console made of Honduras mahogany, maple interior fittings, ivory keys and a fully castored platform that can be moved freely about the stage. The four manual model organ with 47 speaking stops features 2712 pipes and is played using three keyboards and a pedalboard.
Its pipes range in size from the Tierce (high note) at 3/8th of an inch to the Double Open Diapason (lowest note) which is 32 feet long.
To create a complete repertoire of sound, the pipes are also made in different shapes. They are rectangular, cylindrical or conical in shape. The majority of the pipes are made of an alloy devised by Walker and Sons. However, they have used softwood for some pedal basses, hard oak and mahogany for the flute and hard rolled zinc for the front pipes and some of the basses.
A ceremony to mark its installation and the fulfilment of the original Winthrop Hall design was held on 18 January 1965.
The University of Western Australia. (1965). The Organ. Perth: Alpha Print.
UniNews. (1993). A hall of note. UniNews, 12(12): 1-2.