St Mary the Virgin Anglican Church
Market St, Burra

B 1905 J.E. Dodd; enl 1965 & res 1971 J.E. Dodd Sons Gunstar Organ Works.
2m, 11spst, 4c, tr. Gt: Sw: Ped: 16.

From the 2009 OHTA Conference Book, David Shield writes:


The township of Burra is an amalgamation of several smaller settlements clustered around the copper mines of the district.  Most prominent of the towns was Kooringa; followed by Redruth, Alma Aberdeen and Llwchwr.1  All denominations were represented, reflecting the background of the miners and settlers alike.  The first Church of England was opened for Divine Worship in 1848.  The current building dates from 1879.  The organ came in 1905.


A shepherd named Thomas Pickett had found copper in the Burra Burra Creek in 1845.  This led to a number of settlements in the district.  The township of Burra was only proclaimed on 19 September 1940 and resulted from the amalgamation of several mining towns.  During the 19th century it was better known as Kooringa, a mining town of the SA Mining Association laid out in 1846.2  Situated near the copper mine, cottages were constructed for miners and their families.  Because the company didn’t grant freehold titles until the 1870s, other townships, Redruth Aberdeen and Graham, after J.B. Graham a major shareholder of the Burra Mine, developed adjacent to the northern boundary of the company’s property.  The Australian Copper Company laid out the village of Llwchwr in 1855, with Welsh street names  to house their Welsh smeltermen.3


The original church of St Mary’s was located at the junction of Ware and Church Streets in 1849.  The South Australian Mining Company donated the current church site.  The present St Mary’s Anglican Church was completed in 1879 (two years after the mine’s closure) at a cost of £4,000.  It was built by the local firm of Sara & Dunstan to the design by G.F. McLagan, who came to live in Kooringa from Melbourne.  The Gothic-style church now contains many memorials to Burra’s long-established families and [many] stained glass memorial windows, two of which are from the original St Mary’s Church.4


At he opening of the church, an early connection was made with St Peter’s Cathedral.  At the ceremony for the laying of the foundation stone on 3 July 1879, Arthur Boult, organist of the Cathedral, and his choristers travelled to Burra to participate.  This connection was to reappear in the 1960s.


The organ was dedicated on 22 December 1905 and cost £350.  As he had done elsewhere, Dodd arranged for the recitalist on the occasion: his choice was Dr E. Harold Davies.


The organ has played a prominent part in the services of the church.  The dedication of several memorial windows has drawn large numbers, 400 being present on one occasion in March 1922.  Church services were broadcast from St Mary’s on at least two occasions.  Records note services broadcast on 5 November 1939 over 5CL and 5CK and again 13 years later on 21 September 1952 over 5AN and 5CK.  With the additions of 1964, J.V. Peters gave a recital to celebrate and demonstrate the organ.  The church was packed on a sweltering night in November 1966 for the presentation of The Messiah with Peters at the organ and severe thunderstorms disrupted the advent carols a fortnight later, with P. Shillabeer at the organ.  Peters returned in April the following year to play for the Choral Eucharist welcoming the Lord Bishop of Willochra, the Rt Revd T.E. Jones.5


J.E. Dodd 1905

enlarged 1964 & restored 1971 J.E. Dodd & Sons Gunstar Organ Works

2 manuals, 11 speaking stops, mechanical action
















added 1964



1971: previously Dulciana 8

Swell to Great Sub



Swell to Great









Hohl Flute



Viol d’Orchestre



Flauto Traverso





added 1964




Tremulant (by trigger pedal)












Great to Pedal



Swell to Pedal




compass: 56/30

attached drawstop console

balanced swell pedal

two combination pedals




1  See Manning, G.H., Place Names of South Australia (1990):  Kooringa - p.172, Burra - p.58, Llwchwr - p.183, Graham - p.133, Alma - p.9


2  Register, 28 November 1846, p. 4.3


3  Manning, op cit.


4  This history is taken directly from the summary record for St Mary’s Anglican Church (Burra, SA): State Library of South Australia SRG 94/W21, online catalogue.  See also: Devenport, J., St. Mary's Church, Burra - the first 150 years (Burra, SA: The Anglican Parish of Burra, 1997)


5  Reed, R.R (comp.), St Mary’s Burra Vestry Record Glimpses Centenary Supplement (1979)



Tomasz Nowak playing a recital



Photos: Trevor Bunning (Oct 2009)