In 1855 the first railway line in NSW, from Sydney to Parramatta, was opened – with stations at Ashfield and Burwood. The population and prosperity coming to the Concord/Burwood district encouraged a public meeting in 1858 to set up a fund-raising committee to build an Anglican church in Concord.
Plans by the well-known architect, Edmund Blacket, were chosen and the foundation stone was laid in October 1859. The new church was consecrated in May 1861. It cost £1,495 and was calculated to seat 185 people. Blacket is famous for his use of the Gothic style of architecture, which was the ecclesiastical fashion of the day. However, St. Luke’s is not a “pure” Blacket church.
The church was completed in three stages. In 1861 it consisted of a rectangular nave, a porch on the Burton Street side and the bellcote you see today. In 1867, when the church was becoming crowded and it was necessary to expand, the people of St. Luke’s chose to allow a parishioner, Mr. William Coles, who had supervised the building of the first stage, to design the additions. In 1869 a north aisle, a north porch, a rectangular chancel and small north vestry were added. In 1882 the second half of the Coles plan was carried out – a south aisle, with a new south porch, an “Organ Chamber”/vestry on the south side and, most importantly, the distinctive extension to the chancel in apsidal (semi-circular and vaulted, as often seen at the inside end of a church) form.
The Apse is a Romanesque architectural feature, not a Gothic feature, so St. Luke’s is a charming amalgamation of two architectural styles. The present larger south porch was added in 1938 and is a memorial to Dame Eadith Walker, who was a major benefactor of the parish.
St. Luke’s has a treasure trove of 19th century ecclesiastical stained glass, beginning with the five windows for the new chancel, donated by Thomas Robertson of “Lansdowne”, Concord, as a thanksgiving for his success in a Supreme Court action for libel. Also notable is the great west window, a reproduction of Holman Hunt’s famous painting, “The Light of the World”, which is a memorial to Rebecca Moreton, wife of Canon Moreton who was Rector from 1882-1897.
In 1884 Miss Eadith Walker, through her father Thomas, donated a Hill organ to St. Luke’s to commemorate her twenty-first birthday. The organ was built by the famous English firm of Hill and Son, as is the organ of Sydney Town Hall. It is now recognised by musical authorities as a rare and valuable instrument. Its restoration was completed in 1988 with major assistance from the Concord Bicentenary Committee.