St Mark's Anglican Church

Cnr Balnarring Road & Frankston Flinders Road, Balnarring

Laurie Pipe Organs Pty Ltd, 1975, for Whitley College Chapel, Royal Parade, Parkville
Installed in present location 2017 Stewart Organs
1 manual, 5 speaking stops, 1 coupler, mechanical action

St Mark's Church, Balnarring: exterior view
[photograph by Ken Falconer (January 2018)]

Historical and Technical Documentation by John Maidment
© OHTA, 2017, 2018 (last updated July 2019)

The wooden building of St Mark's Church of England, Balnarring, was constructed in 1914 at the junction of Balnarring Road and the Frankston Flinders Road. Following the First World War, the site was further distinguished by its pine trees, some of them a memorial to local fallen soldiers. In August 2017, Bishop Paul Barker dedicated the extensions to and renovation of the church, its hall and op shop, now integrated into a single complex. The gift of the organ from Whitley College has provided an added blessing, being an instrument well suited to its new environment.1

The organ was built in 1975 by Laurie Pipe Organs Pty Ltd, of Moorabbin, Vic. for the former chapel of Whitley College, Royal Parade, Parkville. The College was founded by William Whitley in 1891 and occupied various sites in Melbourne before moving to Parkville. From 1965, it was affiliated with the University of Melbourne, but has now become an independent Baptist teaching college within the University of Divinity. The small chapel was located on the perimeter of the new building opened in 1965 in Royal Parade, designed by the architects Mockridge, Stahle & Mitchell.2 The circular building, built in grey Besser brick with an internal courtyard, has been sold for redevelopment as student accommodation. The chapel had a remarkably resonant acoustic.


Whitley College: exterior view
[photograph by John Maidment (5 December 2007)]

The organ in its original location at Whitley College
[photograph by John Maidment (5 December 2007)]


The asymmetrical casework of the organ was designed by Steve Laurie and includes folding doors painted with an abstract design. It is a rare example of a new mechanical action organ built by the firm, which unsuccessfully quoted on building a number of others, such as the chapel of Merton Hall, South Yarra, Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University, Corpus Christi College, Clayton and St Paul's Church, Henty.3

View of the organ with the doors closed
[photograph by John Maidment (5 December 2007)]

The inaugural recitals on the instrument at Parkville were given by Douglas Lawrence on 27 and 28 June 1975,4 and the organ was used for several concerts during the 1970s for the Melbourne International Festival of Organ and Harpsichord. With the closure of Whitley College chapel, the organ was declared redundant and moved in 2017 to St Mark's Church, Balnarring, by Ken Falconer of Stewart Organs.

St Mark's Church, Balnarring: organ and church interior
[photograph by Ken Falconer (January 2018)]

The organ is notable for its excellence of construction, and its bright and characterful sound. The bass pipes of the Pedal Bourdon have been constructed in a common unit, with shared side walls and the levers for the stop action are exposed on the left-hand side of the case. The organ may be played with the doors closed with expression provided through the single roof shutter. The manual ranks are divided between B and C.

St Diapason
Mixture 19.22




divided wood
[Manual to Pedal coupler]


Compass: 56/30
Mechanical key and stop action
Balanced swell pedal5

The organ was classified by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) in 2008 as a significant example of a pipe organ of the period:

St Mark's Church, Balnarring: organ
[photograph by Ken Falconer (January 2018)]

St Mark's Church, Balnarring: console
[photograph by Ken Falconer (January 2018)]

St Mark's Church, Balnarring: stop jamb
[photograph by John Maidment (5 December 2007)]

St Mark's Church, Balnarring: Pedal Bourdon pipes
[photograph by John Maidment (5 December 2007)]

Whitley College Chapel: stop action levers at left hand side of case
[photograph by John Maidment (5 December 2007)]

1 Information kindly supplied by John Barren, February 2018; see also Mary Karney, St Mark's Anglican Church, Balnarring: a history.  Balnarring: the Church, 2018.

2 Philip Goad & George Tibbits, Architecture on Campus: a Guide to the University of Melbourne and its Colleges (Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 2003), p. 74.

3 Drawings for some of these are housed at the University of Melbourne Archives.

4 Bob Jefferson, Steve Laurie, Organ Builder: His Life and Works (author, 1998), pp. 188-89.

5 Details noted by John Maidment, December 2007.