SS Peter & Paul's Catholic Church

Riding Road, Bulimba

James Duckworth, Manchester, c.1883, for Wesley Methodist Church, Maryborough
Installed 1884 B.B. Whitehouse, for the Queensland Music Warehouse Co., Brisbane
Restored c.1960 Charles Dirksen Organ Co., Brisbane
2 manuals, 12 speaking stops, mechanical action
Rebuilt and installed in present location 1983 H.W. Jarrott, Brisbane
2 manuals, 13 speaking stops, electric action

SS Peter & Paul's Catholic Church, Bulimba
[Photograph by Howard Baker (October 1989)]

Historical and Technical Documentation by Geoffrey Cox
© OHTA 1989, 2011, 2017 (last updated April 2017)

The foundation stone of the present SS Peter & Paul's Church, an imposing building in neo-classical style, was laid by Archbishop James Duhig on 9 May 1926. It replaced an earlier timber building of Gothic design, which had been built in 1896 to the design of the architect, W.J. Caldwell.1 The present building was designed originally by the Toowoomba architect Harry J. Marks. The church was substantially reordered in 2015, some fifty years after the Second Vatican Council, with altar, ambo and font all placed centrally to capture a new understanding of the liturgy. The Norman font, some 800 or 900 years old, came from the village of Knightwick in Worcestershire, England.2

The organ, which is placed over the west door, did not arrive until 1983, when it was installed in conjunction with the golden jubilee celebrations of the parish. It was built originally for Wesley Methodist Church, Maryborough, which had opened in December 1883,3 the cost of the furniture and organ being given at the time as £660.4 The instrument had not arrived in Maryborough, however, in time for the opening of the church on Sunday 16 December:

The new pipe organ had not arrived, but Mr Challands generously gave the use of his excellent American organ, on which Mr Hutchinson performed with undoubted skill.5

An inscription inside the swell box records that the organ was installed in Maryborough in 1884 by B.B. Whitehouse for 'Queensland Musical Warehouses.'6 B.B. Whitehouse worked for The Queensland Music Warehouse Company from around this time until the middle of 1888,7 and it was for this firm also that he installed the organ in St Paul's Anglican Church, Maryborough, in March 1884.

Wesley Methodist Church, Maryborough, c.1932
[Photograph: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland]

The organ in its original location at Wesley Methodist Church, Maryborough
[Photograph by Geoffrey Cox (July 1974)]

The builder's nameplate on the organ had disappeared by 1974 when the details below were recorded. According to Mr Charles Dirksen, however, who restored the Maryborough organ around 1960, the name of the builder was "Ja[me]s. Duckworth of Manchester".8 Charles Dirksen, a Dutchman, worked as an organbuilder in Brisbane between 1956 and 1963.

The only apparent alterations to the organ, when inspected in the mid 1970s, were a new bottom octave on the Swell Oboe 8ft and a new balanced swell pedal on the far right of the console, presumably in the position of a former trigger swell lever. There was a disused hydraulic engine at the church, now reported to have been preserved by Maryborough engineer, Peter Olds.9

The specification was as follows, although none of the original stop-knobs bore any pitch indication:

Open Diapason
Stop Diapason

Double Diapason
Open Diapason


Swell to Great
Swell to Pedals
Great to Pedals




[metal with wooden stoppers from mid.C]
[gvd bass]

[gvd bass]

[bassoon bass – apparently not original]

Balanced swell pedal on far right (not original)
Horizontal swell shutters
3 composition pedals to Great Organ
Compass: 56/30
Mechanical action.10



The organ re-located in the gallery of the present church
[Photograph by Geoffrey Cox (January 2006)]

The organ had been purchased for the present church by early 1980, and negotiations for installing it at Bulimba were carried out initially with Whitehouse Bros of Brisbane. The proposed location in the west gallery did not allow for retention of the mechanical action, and representations were made at the time, both to the parish and to the organ builders, to reconsider the situation.

Case and pipework, apparently preserved in their original configuration
[Photograph by Howard Baker (October 1989)]


Whitehouse Bros ceased operation in 1982, and the organ was eventually rebuilt with electric action and installed in its present location in 1983 by H.W. Jarrott of Brisbane. The lower casework and console were removed, although the pipework, upper casework and chests appear to have been preserved in their original configuration. A second-hand detached console, originally by Charles Dirksen, was supplied and installed at floor level.11 This most likely came from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Chermside, which Jarrott had broken up around 1980. An additional pedal stop (Bass Flute 8ft) was added by extension from the Bourdon, four additional couplers were added, and the original winding system was replaced.12


The second-hand Dirksen console, supplied by H.W. Jarrott in 1983
[Photograph by Howard Baker (October 1989)]

This instrument had remained intact until 1981, and was extremely impressive when played by the present author in Maryborough in July 1974. While the organ undoubtedly serves its new parish well and could not have been installed in the gallery there in its original form, the removal of the mechanical action and original winding has noticeably changed its character. It is fortunate, at least, that the upper casework, chests and general configuration of the instrument have otherwise been preserved.


1 Foundation stone noted by G. Cox, January 2005; The Brisbane Courier (6 July 1896), p. 4.

2 Church of Saints Peter and Paul, Parish of Bulimba: A Short Guide (Parish of Saints Peter and Paul, 2015), cited April 2017 at

3 "Diary of Events" for 16 December 1883 in Pugh's Queensland Almanac . . . for 1885.

4 R.S.C. Dingle, Annals of Achievement: A Review of Queensland Methodism, 1847-1947 (Brisbane: Queensland Book Depot, 1947), p. 271.

5 The Maryborough Chronicle (17 December 1883), p. 3.

6 Personal communication to G. Cox from H.W. Jarrott, c.1974.

7 The name of the firm was expanded by June 1884 to become 'The Queensland Piano, Organ and Music Warehouse Company'. See: Geoffrey Cox, 'B.B. Whitehouse and the First Organ Built in Queensland,' OHTA News, vol. 35, no. 1 (January 2011), pp. 19-24.

8 Personal communication to G. Cox from Charles Dirksen (Heythuysen, Holland), 28 October 1975.

9 The Organ Voice, vol. 27, no. 3 (September 2001), p. 11.

10 Specification noted in Maryborough by G. Cox, July 1974.

11 Tony Tasker, 'The Organ at St Peter and Paul's, Bulimba,' Organ Society of Queensland Newsletter, vol. 18, no. 4 (February 1991), pp. 6-10.

12 Specification noted at Bulimba by G. Cox, 1985 and 1989.