St Andrew's Presbyterian Church

Wollumbin Street, Murwillumbah

William Stone, Melbourne, 1884, for St Columb's Anglican Church, Hawthorn, Victoria
Installed in present church 1924 W.L. Roberts, Melbourne
2 manuals, 8 speaking stops, mechanical action
Rebuilt and installed in organ loft 1955 Whitehouse Bros, Brisbane
2 manuals, 9 speaking stops, tubular-pneumatic action
Electrified 1984 H.W. Jarrott, Brisbane
2 manuals, 9 speaking stops, electro-pneumatic action

St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Murwillumbah
[Photograph by Trevor Bunning (November 2011)]

Historical and Technical Documentation by Geoffrey Cox
© OHTA 2011, 2014 (last updated October 2014)

The foundation stone of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Murwillumbah, was laid on 2 August 1911 by Mrs Jas. Buchanan, who, with her husband, had donated the site. The successful tenderer for the building was Mr. S. Lewis, and the new church was opened on 13 March 1912 by the Moderator of the Presbytery, the Rev. F. H. Bardwell.1

The foundation stone of St Andrew's Church
[Photograph by Geoffrey Cox (September 2014)]

The organ in this church was built by William Stone of Melbourne in 1884 for St Columb's Anglican Church, Hawthorn, Victoria, at a cost of £250. It was opened there on 14 September 1884. When W.L. Roberts supplied a new organ for St Columb's in 1923, the William Stone organ was sold to the present church and installed by Roberts.2 It was opened and dedicated in Murwillumbah on Sunday 22 June 1924:


In St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church Murwillumbah, a pipe organ has been dedicated "to the glory of God, and in memory of the young men who went forth from the congregation to serve in the great war of 1914-1918." The cost of the organ was £750. The collections at the Sunday morning service, amounted to £91/7/, and this amount was not only sufficient to enable the organ to be installed free of debt, but it left a sum in hand to pay for the painting and structural alteration to the church. The sermon was preached by the Rev. M. Graham Hart and the organ was undraped by Mrs. W. Wardrop. On behalf of the ladies of the congregation, Mrs. Wardrop presented Mr. Hart with a preacher's gown. The dedication of the organ marked the fourteenth anniversary of Mr. Hart's ministry in Murwillumbah.3

Photograph thought to have been taken at the organ's dedication in 1924
[Photograph supplied by Dr Thomas Campbell]

William Stone was born in England around 1830, and began in business in Tasmania before moving to Victoria in 1872. He opened his business in St Kilda around 1875 and by 1882 was employing his two sons. He ceased organ-building at the turn of the century.4

The casework of the organ now in Murwillumbah was very similar to that of the 1879 organ now at The Avenue Church, Blackburn, Vic., which has identical groupings of pipes - the two side towers and their corbelled supports and the central flat placed on a V-shape toeboard. However, the woodwork over the central flat is different at Murwillumbah, and it is possible that the ogee canopy now at Murwillumbah could have been recycled (or at least copied) from an earlier organ.5

Regular tuning at Murwillumbah is recorded in the ledgers of Whitehouse Bros, Brisbane, between 1936 and 1953.6

The organ rebuilt in a newly constructed loft
[Photograph by Geoffrey Cox (September 2014)]

After a catastrophic flood in February 1954, and to avoid damage from future floods, the organ was rebuilt in a newly constructed loft.7 The records of Whitehouse Bros describe it as having been 'rebuilt and modernised' in April 1955 at a cost of £2,437.11.0.8 In details later supplied by Kevin Whitehouse, it appears that the original organ was all but destroyed in the flood, although the pipes were saved. The manual compass was increased from 54 to 61 notes at this time, two couplers and one new stop (Gt. Stopped Diapason 8ft) were added, and the organ was rebuilt with tubular-pneumatic action.9 The organ was reopened on 18 June 1955 at 7.30pm.10

The action was electrified in 1984 by H.W. Jarrott of Brisbane. A new detached console was designed, the shell being built by a church member but fitted out by Jarrott. Additional couplers were provided at this time.11 The organ was re-opened at a Service of Thanksgiving on 30 September 1984.12


[Photograph by Dr Thomas Campbell (April 2006)]

The new detached organ console of 1984
[Photograph by Geoffrey Cox (September 2014)]

Bert Jarrott's nameplate, 1984
[Photograph by Rodney Ford (September 2014)]

Some re-voicing and re-scaling was undertaken around 2005 by W.J. Simon Pierce of Brisbane.13


Open Diapason
Stop Diapason

Rohr Flute
Oboe [Ten.C]


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




[on Swell before 1955]

[described as 'Clarabella' in 1980]
[gvd bass]
[on Great before 1955]


Action: Mechanical (1884); tubular-pneumatic (1955); electro-pneumatic (1984)
Compass: 61/30 (54 notes before1955)
2 pistons to each manual.14

Interior of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Murwillumbah
[Photograph by Dr Thomas Campbell (April 2006)]


1 St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Murwillumbah, N.S.W. Centenary Souvenir 1884-1984 (Murwillumbah: privately printed, 1984).

2 Personal communication to Enid Matthews from W.L. Roberts, 26 September 1965, cited in E.N. Matthews, Colonial Organs and Organbuilders (Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 1969), pp. 137, 187; The Brisbane Courier (23 May 1925), p. 17.

3 The Sydney Morning Herald (25 June 1924), p. 14; see also: The Brisbane Courier (Tues, 24 June 1924), p. 11.

4 Matthews, op. cit., pp. 26, 85.

5 Observations by John Maidment, November 2013.

6 Whitehouse Bros Ledger (1922-40), p. 631; Whitehouse Bros Ledger (1940-54), p. 244-45.

7 Date and details supplied by Dr Thomas Campbell, Murwillumbah, September 2013.

8 Whitehouse Bros List 2 (compiled c.1960), as described in OHTA News, vol. 35, no. 4 (October 2011), pp. 27-29.

9 Personal communication to J. Maidment (via David Vann) from Kevin Whitehouse, October 1980, apparently based on correspondence dating from 1954.

10 St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Murwillumbah, N.S.W. Centenary Souvenir 1884-1984, op. cit.

11 Personal communications to G. Cox from H.W. Jarrott and Simon Pierce, November 2011.

12 St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Murwillumbah, N.S.W. Centenary Souvenir 1884-1984, op. cit.

13 Personal communication to G. Cox from Simon Pierce, November 2011.

14 Specification from photographs supplied by Dr Thomas Campbell, October 2013, and from earlier details.