Shop of Mr Phillips, Hairdresser


Built by Mr Phillips, Kadina, 1870
One manual, 3 speaking stops, mechanical action

Historical Documentation by David Shield
© OHTA 2012 (last updated August 2012)

In May of 1870 an article appeared in the Wallaroo Times, repeated in the Adelaide Register, extolling the virtues of a locally made chamber organ. Described as a finger organ, "powerful enough for a hall, dining room or moderately-sized church". The whole of the work was attributed to the local hairdresser, Mr Phillips, even to the bone plating of the keys. The organ had three ranks of wooden pipes described as having a "full and sweet tone" and was presumably for sale as the journalist added that it "would be a desirable acquisition to any one fond of music who had a sufficiently large room to place it in."1

Two months later the Governor, Sir James Ferguson, paid a visit to Yorke's peninsular and while at Kadina visited the shop. Written up in both of the Adelaide daily papers, the Governor:

congratulated Mr. Phillips upon his ingenuity, and expressed regret that Lady Edith, who was a good musician, was not there to play the instrument2


after hearing the maker's account of his work, and hearing a tune played, expressed his gratification at having witnessed so interesting a specimen of colonial industry, and having received the fervent thanks of Mr. Phillips took his leave.3

Little is known of the man consistently referred to as Mr Phillips. There are a number of families in the district with the surname Phillip(s) at this time and it is not clear exactly who the organbuilder is. On the Governor's arrival at Wallaroo, a Mr Phillips presented an address to the Governor on behalf of the Friendly Societies of the town. However, he had not signed it.4 In 1872 John Phillip is recognised as a hairdresser in Kadina, and a John Phillips died in 1883. Any connection is purely conjectural and further genealogical research is required.5

Nothing further is known of this "really ingenious piece of local workmanship".6

1 Wallaroo Times 14/5/1870 p2; Register 16/5/1870 p5

2 Advertiser 13/7/1870 p3 Lady Edith had returned by ship to Adelaide, the Governor was to ride back via Port Wakefield.

3 Register 13/7/1870 p3

4 the signatories were Wm Harris A.I.O.O.F., James Julian A.I.O.F., M.U., Rich Llyod A.O.F., Wm Thos McNiece A.I.O.R., S.U. Register 16/7/1870 6s

5 Boothby South Australian Almanac 1872 p95, State Library South Australia microfiche, Deaths district of Daly 1866-1991

6 Register Wed 3/7/1870 p6