Uniting Church

cnr William and Duckett Streets, Beaudesert

Whitehouse Bros, Brisbane, 1922, for Presbyterian Church, Fortitude Valley
2 manuals, 8 speaking stops, tubular-pneumatic action
Electrified 1973 H.W. Jarrott, Brisbane
Installed in present location 1991-92 W.H. McKelvie, Beaudesert
2 manuals, 8 speaking stops, electro-pneumatic action

Uniting Church, Beaudesert
[Photograph by Howard Baker (1990s)]


Historical and Technical Documentation by Geoffrey Cox
© OHTA 2011, 2017 (last updated August 2017)

'Beau Desert' was the name of an early property established in this area directly inland from Queensland's Gold Coast, on the opposite side of Mount Tamborine. It was named after Henry Bayley's station 'Beau Desert' near Mudgee in New South Wales, the name ultimately deriving from 'Beau Desir' monastery in England. The area was first settled in 1842, and is noted for its pastoral and agricultural produce. The present Uniting Church building was opened and consecrated in February 1992.1

The organ in this church was built in 1922 by Whitehouse Bros, Brisbane, for the Presbyterian Church, Warner Street, Fortitude Valley, at a cost of £880.2 Described as the 'Soldiers' Memorial Organ', it was opened at Fortitude Valley on 13 December 1922 with a recital by Mr George Sampson:

Valley Presbyterian Soldiers' Memorial Organ

The soldiers' memorial organ erected in the Valley Presbyterian Church will be offically opened this evening when Mr. George Sampson, F.R.C.O., will give a recital on it. The recital will commence at 8 o'clock and a large attendance is anticipated, as it is understood that Mr Sampson has arranged his numbers from the popular point of view and with a desire to demonstrate the capabilities of the new organ.3

On 23 February in the following year, a music festival involving vocal soloists, instrumentalists and choir, was presented to celebrate the installation of the new organ:

A music festival to celebrate the installation of the new organ as a memorial to fallen soldiers was held in the Valley Presbyterian Church last night. There was a large attendance. The organ was dedicated by Mr. G. Sampson towards the end of last year, but this was the first occasion on which it had been used for accompanying choral items. The musical programme consisted of 16 items, and included choral, vocal, and instrumental numbers. Songs were contributed with acceptance by Miss McKinney ("I Know That My Redeemer Liveth"), Miss Bothwell ("He Was Despised"), Rev. A. Lewis ("Then Shall the Righteous Shine") and ("I Seek for Thee in Every Flower"), Mr. J. M. MacMinn ("Shipmates o' Mine"), Mr. T. MacMinn ("The Deathless Army"), and Mr. G. Eaton. Miss MacMinn and the Rev. A. Lewis rendered the duet, "Love Divine" (Steiner [sic.]). Mrs. H. Jones contributed two violin solos, and Miss Christmas, A.T.C.L., played on the organ "An-der-Wiege" (Lange) and "Andantino" (Lemare). The members of the choir, under the direction of Mr. Thos. Mae Minn, sang the choruses, "And the Glory" (Handel), "Hallelujah" (Handel), "The Heavens Are Telling" (Haydn), and "Gloria" (Mozart). Miss Christmas, A.T.C.L., made an efficient organist.4


The Fortitude Valley Presbyterian Church
[Photograph from E.J.A. Weller (ed.), Buildings of Queensland
(Brisbane: Jacaranda Press, 1959), p. 4]

The Fortitude Valley Presbyterian Church in Warner Street had been opened in 1885, built to the striking Romanesque design of the Irish-born architect, Richard Gailey.5 It was notable at the time as a church with a gallery.6 The church was closed around 1989, and the building has since been used for commercial purposes.

This organ was built to the standard design of the Whitehouse firm at the time, using tubular-pneumatic action. The specification is identical with that of the instrument completed around six months earlier in 1922 for Christ Church Anglican Church, Milton, although the Milton organ had provision for additions on the Swell. The arrangement of the façade pipes on the two instruments is also very similar, the only difference being that the side flats (each of three pipes) are positioned slightly lower at Milton, presumably to fit within the arch there.

The 1922 Whitehouse organ at the Presbyterian Church, Fortitude Valley
[Photograph supplied by Deslie Garnett,
per Steven Nisbet and David Vann)]

The action was electrified at Fortitude Valley in 1973 by H.W. Jarrott of Brisbane, who added three new couplers at the same time.7 Jarrott supplied new keyboards and console fittings, and replaced the original hitch-down swell lever with a balanced swell pedal.

The console at Fortitude Valley,
modified by Jarrott in 1973
[Photographs by David Vann (early 1980s)]

The console at Beaudesert,
modified by Jarrott in 1973 at Fortitude Valley
[Photograph by Howard Baker (1990s)]

The instrument was removed from the Fortitude Valley Church in 1989 and installed in its present location in 1991-92 by Bill McKelvie, who lived at that time in Beaudesert. The acquisition of the organ coincided with the design of the new church building at Beaudesert, and an organ chamber was provided for the purpose.8 Whereas the console had been detached at Fortitude Valley, it was attached to the organ when installed at Beaudesert.


The organ at Beaudesert, with the console attached
[Photograph by Howard Baker (1990s)]



Open Diapason

Open Diapason
Lieblich Gedact


Swell to Great
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal
Swell Super
Swell Sub
Swell Sub to Great
Swell Super to Great
Great Octave




[gvd bass]

[gvd bass]


Tremulant (general)
Compass: 58/30
2 combination pistons to Swell
2 combination pistons to Great

Pedalboard: radiating concave
Attached drawstop console [originally detached]
Electro-pneumatic action [formerly tubular pneumatic]
Balanced swell pedal [originally hitchdown-lever].9

Repairs to the organ, including silencing of the blower and improving access for tuning, were carried out in August 2014 by Bert Jarrott and Doug Milne.10

Organist June Farmers with Bert Jarrott and Doug Milne
after the completion of repair work
(The Beaudesert Times, 27 August 2014)



1 'Profile - W.H.(Bill) McKelvie', The Organ Voice, vol. 32, no. 2 (June 2005), pp. 24-25.

2 The date is given as 1923 in Richard Bardon, The Centenary History of The Presbyterian Church of Queensland (Brisbane: W.R. Smith & Paterson, 1949), p. 218. The Whitehouse Bros List gives 1922, and the Whitehouse Bros Ledger (1922-1940), p. 122 shows payments from July 1922, with final payment in February 1923.

3 The Brisbane Courier (13 December 1922), p. 12.

4 The Brisbane Courier (24 February 1923), p. 4.

5 Donald Watson & Judith McKay, Queensland Architects of the 19th Century: A Biographical Dictionary (Brisbane: Queensland Museum, 1994), pp. 72-80.

6 Bardon, op. cit., p. 218.

7 Date supplied by Miss Nora Baird (organist at Fortitude Valley), c.1974.

8 Organ Society of Queensland News, vol. 1, no 2 (November 1993), pp. 1-2; The Organ Voice, vol. 21, no. 4 (Winter 1994), pp. 87-89.

9 Specification noted by G. Cox, August 1974; original specification from Notebooks of E.R. Salisbury and Collected Specifications of Bernie Brohan (c.1952); minor modifications noted from The Organ Voice, vol. 21, no. 4 (Winter 1994), pp. 87-89.

10 Tanya Marschke, 'Organ Repairs Hit All the Right Notes,' The Beaudesert Times (27 August 2014).