Westminster Presbyterian Church Belconnen

61 Templeton Street, Cook, ACT

Built 1908 Wadsworth Bros, Manchester for the Church of the Good Shepherd,
Tatham Fells, Lancashire, UK
Rebuilt c.1949 Wilkinson & Sons, Kendal (conversion of key actions to tubular-pneumatic)
Installed 1950 Methodist Church, Centre Road, Bentleigh, Victoria C.W. Andrewartha
Key actions electrified and installed 1999 Marist College, Pearce, ACT Steve Laurie
Installed present location 2015
2 manuals, 11 speaking stops, 3 couplers, electro-pneumatic and mechanical action

Westminster Presbyterian Church Belconnen, Cook, ACT: exterior
[photograph by Trevor Bunning (March 2015)]

Historical and Technical Documentation by John Maidment
© OHTA (last updated February 2015)


Westminster Presbyterian Church Belconnen is a modern building located in the Canberra suburb of Cook. It is constructed in brick with steel roofing.

Westminster Presbyterian Church, Cook, ACT: the organ
[photograph by Trevor Bunning (February 2015)]

The organ was built in 1908 by Wadsworth Bros, Manchester for the Church of the Good Shepherd, Tatham Fells, Lancashire (also known as Lowgill). The cost was £255 and the job number 590, which is also recorded on paper labels on some of the Swell pipework.1 2 The church was a fine example of the work of the notable architectural firm of Paley & Austin, with a diminutive central tower; this firm may also have designed the organ case.3

The organ was badly affected by excessive humidity and the mechanical key actions were converted to tubular-pneumatic by the firm of Wilkinson & Sons, Kendal, whose nameplate is now on the console. This work appears to have been carried out in 1949 before its export to Australia.

The Wadsworth organ 1950 in the workshop of C.W. Andrewartha
[photograph from the Uniting Church Archives, Elsternwick]

Photographs in the Uniting Church Archives, at Elsternwick, Melbourne, show that the organ was erected in the Melbourne workshop of C.W. Andrewartha before he erected the instrument in the Bentleigh church. The organ was opened on 15 October 1950 at a service of dedication and recital by Lawrence Warner.4

The original Great Flute 4 (possibly a Wald Flute or Harmonic Flute) was removed by Laurie Pipe Organs and replaced with a spotted metal Principal 4 at an unknown date.5

Following the formation of the Uniting Church the building became redundant and the organ was removed to the Mordialloc factory of S.J. Laurie Pty Ltd. After an extended period in storage the organ was finally sold to Marist College, Pearce, ACT, being rededicated in November 1999. The organ was renovated and the key actions electrified by the Laurie firm, this being Steve Laurie's last project before retirement.

Westminster Presbyterian Church, Cook, ACT: the console – left and right jambs
[photographs by Trevor Bunning (February 2015)]

The original stop labels have been replaced, but the original departmental labels survive. The original metal conveyance to the façade pipes have been replaced in pvc.

The organ was moved to its present location early in 2015 by a team, led by Trevor Bunning.6


Open Diapason
Rohr Gedact

Violin Diapason
Lieblich Gedact
Echo Gamba
Voix Celestes


Swell to Great
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal





Attached drawstop console
Balanced mechanical swell pedal
2 composition pedals to Great
2 composition pedals to Swell
Compass 58/30
Electro-pneumatic key action (1999) – previously tubular-pneumatic
Mechanical stop action7


Primary Sources at the British Organ Archive, Birmingham



Shop Bk

Vol=01  Job=590    new organ: 2m/p



A/C Bk

Vol=03  Page=077    1908 new organ £255; 1910-14 tuning; stopped



A/C Bk

Vol=04  Page=424    1925 clean £50; 1929 tuning



A/C Bk

Vol=05  Page=T 08    tuning




Job=2212    Imperial reed organ £190

Secondary Sources at the British Organ Archive, Birmingham

Walker, F.Denis, notebooks

Walker, F.Denis

Vol=1949  Vol No=23  Page=151    Wadsworth n.d.: 2m/p


1 Details from the British Organ Archive, from the Wadsworth shop book

2 Original location also recorded in an opening recital programme at Bentleigh held in the John Cowan scrapbooks (Australian Catholic University)

3 Geoff Brandwood, The Architecture of Sharpe, Paley and Austin (Swindon, UK: English Heritage, 2012), pp. 137, 237.

4 Programme in the John Cowan scrapbooks

5 Pers.comm. Robert Heatley (date unknown)

6 As advised by Trevor Bunning

7 Details notes from console photographs


The organ in its new location at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Cook
[Photos: Trevor Bunning, February 2015]

Great pipework
[Photos above: Trevor Bunning, February 2015]

Swell slider action
[Photo: Trevor Bunning, February 2015]

Great slider action
[Photo: Trevor Bunning, February 2015]

Wadsworth Swell pipework before removal.
[Photo: Trevor Bunning, February 2015]

View of the Wadsworth Swell with front ranks removed.
Note the swell box rear and sides have been replaced with dowelled panels of complex composite construction.
The two softest ranks (Echo Gamba and Lieblich Gedact) share a common wooden bottom octave.
[Photo: Trevor Bunning, February 2015]

Bentleigh Methodist Church: details of opening of organ, 15 October 1950
(from John Cowan scrapbooks, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne)