The Toowoomba Preparatory School

Campbell Street, Toowoomba

Whitehouse Bros, Brisbane, 1949
2 manuals, 9 speaking stops, tubular-pneumatic action
Addition 1979 Walter Emerson, Toowoomba
Electrified, enlarged & installed in Assembly Hall 1987 David Cahill, Warwick
Restored & installed in new chapel 1998 W.J. Simon Pierce, Brisbane
2 manuals, 12 speaking stops, electro-pneumatic action

St Alban's Chapel, The Toowoomba Preparatory School
[Photograph by Trevor Bunning (November 2011)]


Historical and Technical Documentation by Geoffrey Cox
© OHTA 2011 (last updated November 2011)

The organ now in St Aidan's Chapel of The Toowoomba Preparatory School (formerly known as the Church of England Boys' School), was installed as a war memorial and first located in the old school chapel in the former residence 'Stoneleigh', which has since been demolished.1

It was re-located to the school's assembly hall in 1987, and then to the new St Alban's Chapel when it was opened in 1998.

Foundation stone of St Alban's Chapel (1997)
and Opening and Dedication Plaque (1998)
[Photographs by Trevor Bunning (November 2011)]


The organ was built in November 1949 by Whitehouse Bros of Brisbane at a cost of £1713. The original tender, dated 2 August 1946, had not included the Oboe 8ft stop or the silky-oak case.2 The blower was placed in a soundproof box in January 1952.3

This was one of the highly standardised pneumatic-action organs built by the firm from the early 1910s onwards, using cone-pallet chests and featuring 'inclined-block type' stop tabs placed in a row above the upper manual. The original specification was one stop larger than that of the organs for the Methodist Church, Morningside (1947) and the Methodist Church, Lutwyche (1949), comprising three stops on the Great, five on the Swell and one on the Pedals. The duplexing of the Swell string stop to the Great Organ was a common feature on these instruments from the early 1930s onwards, and the later instruments such as this one used the same name 'Salicional' for both.

In 1979, Walter Emerson of Toowoomba added a Principal 4ft stop to the Great, and at the same time transposed the original Flute 4ft on the Great to become the Stopped Diapason 8ft.4 In 1985 the organ was removed from the chapel and placed in storage by Walter Emerson, before being electrified and installed in 1987 in the school's Assembly Hall with new casework and additions by David Cahill of Warwick.5

The 1949 Whitehouse organ, enlarged in 1979 and 1987,
with new casework by David Cahill of Warwick
[Photographs by Trevor Bunning (November 2011)]

After serving in the Assembly Hall for around ten years, the instrument was restored and re-voiced in 1998 by W.J. Simon Pierce of Brisbane, and installed in the new St Aidan's Chapel. The original flat pallets (probably a wartime measure) were converted to fit the customary cone pallets at this time, and the casework was restored and altered to fit the new surroundings.6 The instrument now enjoys better acoustics than in its previous locations. The opening recital in the new chapel was given on 23 October 1998 by Christopher Wrench.7

The organ in St Alban's Chapel
[Photograph by Trevor Bunning (November 2011)]

Open Diapason
Stopped Diapason

Violin Diapason
Geigen Principal

Bass Flute

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




[from Swell]
[Flute 4ft before 1979]

[originally 'Principal 4ft']



Swell tremulant
Compass: 61/30
Balanced swell pedal
Attached stop-key console
Electro-pneumatic action (originally tubular pneumatic).8


Stop-keys, following additions in 1979 and 1987
[Photographs by Trevor Bunning (November 2011)]



1 Personal communication to G. Cox from Phillip Gearing, May 2003.

2 Whitehouse Bros Ledger (1940-1954), p. 463.

3 Whitehouse Bros Ledger (1940-1954), p. 688.

4 Personal communication to G. Cox from Walter Emerson, c.1979.

5 Personal communication to G. Cox from Leslie W. Rub, March 1987.

6 The Organ Voice, vol. 25, no. 1 (March 1999), p. 23.

7 Phillip Gearing, 'The Organ of St. Aidan's Chapel at Toowoomba Preparatory School: A New Perspective,' The Organ Voice, vol. 25, no. 1 (March 1999), pp. 6-7.

8 Specification noted by G. Cox, February 1974, incorporating subsequent changes as noted above.

The West Window in St Alban's Chapel
[Photograph by Trevor Bunning (October 2011)]