St James’ Cathedral is the home of the only pipe organ in Townsville.
The original organ, built by Brindley & Foster of Sheffield England, was a gift to the Diocese of North Queensland from Miss M.E. Holland, an English friend of Bishop George Henry Stanton, the first Bishop of North Queensland. It was originally installed in St James’ Church in 1884. This was a two manual (2 keyboards) and pedal instrument of ten stops and it was installed by Mr. T. C. Christmas of Brisbane.
In 1892, it was moved to the present Cathedral where it was originally installed in the north choir ambulatory and the two arches fronting the chancel.
In 1903 the organ was enlarged to an extra 13 stops by the original builders and the instrument then occupied the North Transept.
In 1906 the mechanical organ was coupled to a pneumatic organ and enlarged to an extra 13 stops by the original builder. It occupied 2 bays of he North Transept.
In 1956-57 Mr. Noel Ferguson, an optometrist from Cairns, rebuilt it with twenty-two speaking stops.
In 1958, the organ was moved to organ gallery.
At this time the action was changed from mechanical to electro-pneumatic
The organ was reconstructed by Brown and Arkley for the Centenary of St James’ in 1992 and in its present form represents the vision and dreams of the late Frank Carroll, who was Director of Music in the Cathedral (1966-94).
Woodwork used in the earlier rebuilding was never sealed against the weather, and this caused many unbidden sounds (called ‘ciphers’) that sprang forth unexpectedly. The metal pipework needed a complete overhaul as well as cleaning, revoicing and regulating. Quite a few pipes had suffered from vandalism and ‘souveniring’ and needed to be replaced, and the large wooden pipes on the East Wall (the huge 16 foot bourdon) were water damaged during cyclone Althea in 1971.
This major project, which cost in excess of $300,000, saw the instrument enlarged to four manuals and 53 stops and an extended gallery built above the North Transept (Lady Chapel) to accommodate it. The organ was then the largest pipe organ in Queensland, outside metropolitan Brisbane.
It was dedicated by the Bishop of North Queensland on the 4th October 1992 as part of the Cathedral’s Centenary Celebrations.
In 2002, there was further adjustment to the voicing and wind pressures.
36 Cleveland Terrace, Townsville
PO Box 108
Townsville, Qld, 4810
Telephone: 0423 833 451
Or contact the Dean,
The Very Reverend
Dr Kenneth Lay
0422 148 952 or firstname.lastname@example.org.