St Philip's Anglican Church

Cornwall Street, Annerley (Thompson Estate)

Positive Organ Co. Ltd, London
Installed 1890s at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Mackay
Installed 1901 at the Methodist Church, West End
Installed 1909 in previous church on this site
1 manual, 7 speaking stops, 2 melodic couplers, mechanical & tubular-pneumatic action
Destroyed by fire 1954

The present St Philip's Anglican Church, Annerley
[Photograph by David Vann (June 2012)]


Historical and Technical Documentation by Geoffrey Cox
© OHTA 2012, 2013 (last updated September 2013)

The present St Philip's Church was opened in 1955, replacing an earlier wooden church that was destroyed by fire on 28 November 1954.1 The foundation stone of the present brick church had already been laid around a month earlier, and the old wooden church had been moved to allow the new one to be built.2 The old church, designed by the architect J.H. Burley, was built on what was then known as 'Thompson Estate'. It was opened by Bishop Webber on 18 October 1886.3

The Positive Organ Co. organ in the former
St Philip's Anglican Church, Thompson Estate, in 1912
[Photograph from the Archives of St Philip's Church,
supplied by Br Donald Campbell SSF (2013)]

The organ in the original church was built by the Positive Organ Co. Ltd, London.4 It was purchased initially for Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Mackay, having been selected directly from the manufacturers by Mr George Joseph Perkins of Mackay, reportedly at a cost of £150. Following difficulties in maintaining the instrument in Mackay, it was sold to the West End Methodist Church.5

The date of installation in Mackay can be narrowed to the 1890s,6 and possibly even to the end of that decade, as George Fincham of Melbourne provided an estimate of £220 for a single-manual organ for Holy Trinity Church in January 1898.7 The Positive Organ Co. organ appears not to have lasted long in Mackay. The West End church purchased the instrument through Messrs Whitehouse & Marlor in 1901,8 when a series of organ recitals and entertainments was arranged to raise funds for the purchase of the instrument:


Lovers of music will be interested to learn that an addition to the number of pipe organs in Brisbane has been made by the West End Methodist Church. The choir of that church, which now ranks as one of the largest church choirs of the city, have for some time past felt that the reed organ used by them hitherto was not sufficiently powerful to support such a number of singers. This has how been met to some extent by the church trustees in the purchase by them, through Messrs. Whitehouse and Marlor, of this city, of a pipe organ, which in some respects is a novelty to Brisbane. The organ was built by the Positive Organ Company, Limited, of London, on Casson's patent system. It is by no means a large instrument, being 14ft. high, and about 6ft. square, and blown by hand-power. The action is pneumatic and tracker combined; and although, perhaps, intricate in appearance, is very simple in its working, and withal effective. The pedals are radiating and concave, and of the most improved pattern. The front pipes, and all pipes other than wood, are of spotted metal, and all wood pipes are screwed as well as glued. The ivories are also screwed to the keys on the manual, and every part of the instrument evidences forethought as regards possible climatic effects. There is only one manual to the instrument, but by an ingenious arrangement the effect of two manuals can be obtained from one, so that a solo stop can be used independently of other stops producing the accompaniment. By another ingenious contrivance the pedal pipes can be sounded from the manual, so that a performer unable to use the pedals can, notwithstanding, obtain that full depth of tone, which on the ordinary organ would be impossible. The organ is erected on a platform, with castors, to enable the instrument to be moved to different parts of the building if required. In order to raise funds for the purchase it has been decided to hold a series of fortnightly organ recitals and entertainments, and in this connection attention is directed to our advertisement columns. The first organ recital and concert will be held to-morrow evening in the Methodist Church, Vulture-street, West End. The church organist, Mr. R. J. Archibald, a past pupil of Mr. S. G. Benson, will preside at the organ, and will be assisted by Miss Ethel Parker and Mr. P. J. Hammond as vocalists, and Mr. R. N. Hendry as trombone soloist. ...9

The West End church finally disposed of the organ in 1908-09, replacing it with a larger instrument.10 The organ was dedicated at St Philip's Church in 1909,11 and quarterly attention there by Whitehouse Bros is certainly noted from at least July 1922 onwards.12

1. Open Diapason
2. Salicional
3a. Gedackt Bass
3b. Gedackt Treble
4a. Dulcet Bass
4b. Dulcet Treble

5. Sub Bass

Great to Pedal



[gvd bass from 3a]

[divided at middle C]

[divided at middle C]

[from 3a]


Double Bass 16 [sounds the lowest note of a chord on the Sub Bass, from middle C downwards]
Melodia 8 [sounds the upper note of a chord on the Open Diapason, from middle C upwards]

With the exception of stops 1 and 5 [=3a] as listed, the pipework is entirely enclosed.

Compass: not recorded
Hitchdown swell lever
Action: mechanical (for Salicional & Dulcet) & tubular-pneumatic (for the remainder).13


This instrument makes for interesting comparison with the other instrument (Op. 172) by the Positive Organ Company imported into Queensland, originally at the Catholic Apostolic Church, South Brisbane. No Opus number appears to have been recorded for the St Philip's instrument. It differed from Op. 172 in several respects: in lacking a Voix Celestes stop, in including pedals, and in having a 'Melodia' stop (sounding the upper note of a chord on the Open Diapason from middle c upwards) rather than a 'Melodic Viol'.

The St Philip's instrument was destroyed in the fire that also destroyed the old church in November 1954.


1 The Sydney Morning Herald (29 November 1954), p. 1.

2 Personal communication to G. Cox from Mrs Johnson, the wife of the Rector of St Philip's Church, January 1973.

3 The Brisbane Courier (18 October 1886), p. 5.

4 Collected Organ Specifications of Bernie Brohan (c.1952), and Notebooks of Edward R. Salisbury (Organist at St Philip's, 1928-30).

5 Personal communication from to G. Cox from Edward R. Salisbury, January 1973, based on an unidentified [Brisbane] newspaper clipping, reportedly dated 7 January 1940.

6 John Henry Williams, Anglican Parish of Holy Trinity, Mackay: Centenary 1867-1967 (Mackay: Mercury Printing Service, 1968), pp. 13, 24. According to E.R. Salisbury (personal communication, 1974), the organ was installed at Mackay during the incumbency of The Revd Abel Turner, which was June 1891-October 1900.

7 George Fincham Letter Book 15, pp. 295-96 (18 January 1898); Letter Book 11, p. 378 (19 May 1898) – transcribed by E.N. Matthews in Fincham/Matthews Collection (State Library of Victoria, MS 9423).

8 Minutes of Trustees Meetings, West End Methodist Church (29 August 1901) - supplied by the Methodist Historical Society, Brisbane, courtesy of Rev. Alan Heiner, 20 September 1974.

9 The Brisbane Courier (4 October 1901), p. 6.

10 Minutes of Trustees Meetings, West End Methodist Church (21 February 1908 & 13 August 1908) - supplied by the Methodist Historical Society, Brisbane, courtesy of Rev. Alan Heiner, 20 September 1974.

11 The Brisbane Courier (8 May 1909), p. 16.

12 Whitehouse Bros Ledger (1922-1940), p. 29.

13 Specification and other details from Notebooks of Mr Edward R. Salisbury.