Wesley Uniting (formerly Methodist) Church
Linton Street, Kangaroo Point
B.B. Whitehouse & Co., Brisbane, 1903
Restored 1953 Whitehouse Bros, Brisbane
Restored with additions 1989 W.J. Simon Pierce, Brisbane
2 manuals, 13 speaking stops, mechanical action
Wesley Uniting Church, Kangaroo Point
[Photograph by Geoffrey Cox (September 2004)]
Historical and Technical Documentation by Geoffrey Cox
© OHTA 1989, 2011, 2013 (last updated May 2013)
Wesley Church at Kangaroo Point was opened in November 1903. The building was designed in Gothic style by the architect, Henry W. Atkinson, and is constructed in red brick with cement dressings. The organ was built by B.B. Whitehouse & Co. of Brisbane, and was used at the opening of the church on 22 November.1 It was donated by Mr Rheuben Nicklin who was himself the organist for many years.2
Interior of Wesley Uniting Church, Kangaroo Point
[Photograph by Howard Baker (October 1989)]
The installation of the organ was announced shortly before the church was opened, with special reference to the use of Queensland timbers in the instrument's construction:
The pipe organ for the new Methodist Church, Kangaroo Point, is now being erected in the building. The instrument, which contains two manuals and pedals, sixteen stops, and four composition pedals, has been built entirely by B. B. Whitehouse and Co., of George-street, Brisbane, and only Queensland wood has been used in its construction. The suitability of Queensland timber for this work has been proved by the way in which the Wharf-street Congregational Church organ (built by the same firm some five years ago) has withstood the climate.3
The specification of the organ published at the time of the opening of the church shows that two stops (Great Principal 4ft and Piccolo 2ft) were "prepared for", and that the Swell Salicional 8ft and Voix Celeste 8ft were not included in the original scheme. The organ was at first blown by hand, although a hydraulic engine was envisaged. Mr George Sampson had been involved in making suggestions that were incorporated into the design. The pipes were described as being of "extra large scale and thickness" in order to provide power in the building. The case was made of kauri pine and cedar, and the front pipes "most artistically decorated in French gray, chocolate, dark green, salmon, and gold-leaf":
The pipe organ in the new Wesley Church, Kangaroo Point, has just been completed by Messrs. B. B. Whitehouse and Co., Brisbane. The members of this firm have had a large experience in organ construction, and have been connected with some of the best known builders in England. The instrument has several recommendations embodied in it which were suggested by Mr. George Sampson, F.R.C.O., and the material used in its construction has been chosen specially to resist the extreme temperatures of Queensland. The organ has two manuals, eighteen stops, and four composition pedals. The blowing is at present done by hand, but the committee intend soon to get a hydraulic engine to furnish the [?] power. The pipes number, at present, 454 [?], but preparations have been made to add another 112 in the near future. The majority of them are made of the best spotted metal of extra large scale and thickness, thus making the organ much more powerful than many instruments of larger dimensions. The complete specification is as follows:- Great organ: Open diapason (metal), 8ft., clarabella (wood), 8ft., dulciana (metal), 8ft., flute (wood), 4ft., principal (metal), 4ft. (prepared for), piccolo (metal), 2ft. (prepared for). Swell organ: Violin diapason (metal), 8ft., lieblich gedact (wood), 8ft., gemshorn (metal), 4ft., oboe (metal), 8ft. Pedal organ: Bourdon (wood), 16ft. Couplers: Great to pedal, swell to pedal, swell to great, and swell super octave; two composition pedals to great, two composition pedals to swell, tremulant attachment to swell organ and swell pedal. The pedals are concave and radiating, College of Organist[s] pattern, with additional improvements suggested by Mr. Geo. Sampson. The action is bushed throughout. The case is of kauri pine and cedar, and the front pipes are most artistically decorated in French gray, chocolate, dark green, salmon, and gold-leaf. The organ reflects great credit on the builders and is a handsome addition to the church. It has been finished under contract time, and was used by Mr. J. E. Greenham (the organist), at the opening of the church yesterday.4
Following the opening of the church, the official opening of the organ itself took place on Monday 14 December, with a recital by George Sampson.5 It was described the next day as follows:
The official opening of the new organ of the Wesley Church, Linton-street, Kangaroo Point, took place last evening when a very enjoyable recital was given. The instrument, built by Mr Whitehouse has already been described in these columns and it is therefore not necessary to refer to the details of its construction. It may be said, however, that the builder has every reason to be satisfied with his work.
The organ is of ample power, and the quality of tone is good. Its capabilities were exhibited at their best by Mr. G. Sampson, F.R.C.O. whose services fortunately were secured for the occasion. Mr. Sampson drew upon his repertoire for many attractive numbers, and his musicianly playing was thoroughly appreciated. Among other numbers he played "Serenata" (Moszkowski), the andante, andante con moto and allegro maestoso movements of Mendelssohn's "No 5 Organ Sonata", "Offertoire on Two Christmas Themes" (Guilmant), "Grande Offertoire for Easter Day" (Batiste) "Postlude in E flat" (Wely), and "March of the Israelites" (Costa). Mr. W. G. Templeton, who was very skilfully and sympathetically accompanied by his brother, sang Jude's "I Stand at the Door," and the Mighty Deep," by the same composer, which suited his voice admirably. Being encored for the second song, he rendered with much acceptation "Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep." Miss Muriel Widdicombe, who possesses a clear and pleasing soprano voice, sang "Jerusalem," from the oratorio of "St Paul." She was accompanied by Mr. Greenham, the organist of the church. The opening and closing prayers were offered by the Rev. Mr. Hudson, minister of the church.6
The organ is very favourably positioned high in the apse of the church, and the horizontal swell shutters open upwards to project the sound into the building. On both this organ and the Whitehouse organ at All Hallows' Convent, Brisbane, the Great and Swell share a common chest.7 In common with other Whitehouse organs of the period, the pipework is by A. Palmer & Son of London and the console fittings by Thomas Harrison of London.8 The showpipes have 'bay-leaf' mouths, as distinct from the 'French' mouths found on the earlier Whitehouse organ at the Congregational Church, Wharf Street.
[Photograph by Simon Pierce (c.1989)]
There is evidence that the Swell box was extended at some stage.9 This was presumably to accommodate the addition of the Salicional and Voix Celeste, which were not included in the original scheme of 1903. The date for these additions was almost certainly before 1922, when the firm's ledger records begin.
The organ was restored by Whitehouse Bros in 1953 at a cost of £400,10 at which time the original double-rise bellows appear to have been reduced to single-rise. The restoration of the organ in 1989 by W.J. Simon Pierce of Brisbane included the return of the bellows to double-rise and the addition of the Great Principal 4ft and Piccolo 2ft on prepared slides according to the original design, using scalings taken from the 1912 Whitehouse organ at St Mary's Catholic Church, Maryborough, Queensland. Slides were added to the pipes, and the pitch of the organ was slightly lowered to A440. The pipes were restencilled in 1989, reportedly in their original colours.11
Console of the 1903 B.B. Whitehouse & Co. organ
[Photograph by Howard Baker (October 1989)]
Swell to Great
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal
[Swell] Octave Coupler
2 combination pedals to Great Organ
2 combination pedals to Swell Organ
Pedalboard: parallel & concave [although 'radiating' according to The Brisbane Courier (1903)]
Trigger swell lever
1 The Brisbane Courier (23 November 1903), p. 3.
2 R. S. C. Dingle, Annals of Achievement: A Review of Queensland Methodism, 1847-1947 (Brisbane: Queensland Book Depot, 1947), p. 223.
3 The Brisbane Courier (10 November 1903), p. 3.
4 The Brisbane Courier (23 November 1903), p. 3.
5 The Brisbane Courier (10 December 1903), p. 4; The Brisbane Courier (12 December 1903), p. 7.
6 The Brisbane Courier (15 December 1903), p. 3.
7 Simon Pierce, 'The Organ at Wesley Uniting Church, Kangaroo Point, Brisbane,' Organ Society of Queensland Newsletter, vol. 17, no. 6 (June 1990), pp. 5-10.
8 Personal communication to G. Cox from W.J. Simon Pierce, October 1989.
9 Simon Pierce, op. cit., p. 5.
10 Whitehouse Bros Ledger (1940-1954), p. 450; Plaque on the organ.
11 Simon Pierce, op. cit.; see also: Organ Society of Queensland Newsletter, vol. 15, no. 4 (February 1988), p. 33; vol. 15, no 5 (April 1988), p. 41; vol. 16, no. 1 (August 1988), p. 35; & vol. 16, no. 5 (April 1989), p. 49.
12 Specification noted by G. Cox, 1972.
[Photograph by Howard Baker (October 1989)]