St Paul's Anglican Church

Arthur Street, Roma

Whitehouse Bros, Brisbane, 1929
2 manuals, 11 speaking stops, tubular-pneumatic action
Removed from chancel to west end c.1958 & electrified c.1970 Walter Emerson, Toowoomba
2 manuals, 11 speaking stops, electro-pneumatic action

St Paul's Anglican Church, Roma
[Photograph by Howard Baker (1990s)]

Historical and Technical Documentation by Geoffrey Cox
© OHTA 2011, 2013 (last updated May 2013))

Roma was named after Lady Diamantina Roma Bowen, the wife of Queensland's first governor, and it was the first gazetted settlement after the colony separated from New South Wales in 1859. The foundation stone of the St Paul's Church dates was laid in 1913,1 and the building was opened in 1915, replacing an earlier building dating from 1876.2 The building is of cathedral proportions, designed by the Sydney-born architect, Walter Carey Voller, who had been articled in Brisbane to F.D.G. Stanley.3

The organ was built in 1928-29 by Whitehouse Bros of Brisbane at a cost of £1288, the order having been placed by September 1927. It was installed at St Paul's in February 1929.4 The casing is of silky oak, made locally by Mr Gordon Anderson of A.B. Anderson & Sons. The instrument was dedicated by Archdeacon Glover at the morning service on Easter Day, 1929, and the organist, Mr Lionel Johnston, was reported to have performed 'in a very capable and effective manner' on this occasion.5

This instrument was one of the standard pneumatic-action Whitehouse instruments of the period from c.1910 onwards. The specification in this instance was identical to that of the organ for the Neil Street Methodist Church, Toowoomba, which had been completed in June 1928. The presence of a Horn Diapason 8ft on the Swell of both these instruments was unusual, the designations 'Violin Diapason' or 'Open Diapason' being more common.

Console of the 1929 Whitehouse Bros organ
at St Paul's Anglican Church, Roma
[Photograph by Howard Baker (1990s)]

Open Diapason
Stop Diapason
Harmonic Flute

Horn Diapason
Lieblich Gedact
Echo Gamba

Bass Flute

Swell to Great
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal
Swell Octave to Great
Swell Sub to Great
Swell Octave
Swell Sub-Octave





Swell tremulant
Detached (reverse) stop-key console
Compass: 61/30
Balanced swell pedal
2 thumb pistons (blind) & cancel to Great Organ
2 thumb pistons (blind) & cancel to Swell Organ
Tubular-pneumatic action.6

Minor repairs and tuning were carried out by Whitehouse Bros up to at least February 1958, at which time they overhauled the instrument at a cost of £650.7 It was presumably shortly after this that Walter Emerson of Toowoomba moved the organ from the chancel of the church to the west end, as he recalled this took place around 1958.8 The action was converted to electro-pneumatic by Emerson in the early 1970s.9

The 1929 Whitehouse Bros organ at St Paul's Anglican Church, Roma,
after removal to the west end of the church
[Photograph by Howard Baker (1990s)]


The organ was thoroughly cleaned and repaired in 1997 by W.J. Simon Pierce. At this time, the bellows were re-leathered, off-note puffers replaced and the water-damaged Swell soundboard was repaired.10 Further soundboard puffers were replaced in 2001.11


1 The Brisbane Courier (6 March 1913), p. 6.

2 The Brisbane Courier (16 November 1915), p. 7; Glenda Murrell, Anglican Records and Archive Centre Guide to Records (DioceseofBrisbaneWeb, 2001) - cited January 2004.

3 E.J.A. Weller (ed), Buildings of Queensland (Brisbane: Jacaranda Press, 1959), part II, p. xiv; Donald Watson & Judith McKay, Queensland Architects of the 19th Century: A Biographical Dictionary (Brisbane: Queensland Museum, 1994), pp. 200-01.

4 The Brisbane Courier (3 September 1927), p. 8; Western Star and Roma Advertiser (26 January 1929), p. 2; Western Star and Roma Advertiser (16 February 1929), p. 2; Whitehouse Bros Ledger (1922-1940), p. 340.

5 Unidentified newspaper clipping (dated by hand, May 1929) in the notebooks of Mr E.R. Salisbury.

6 Collected Organ Specifications of Bernie Brohan (c.1952) & personal communication to G. Cox from Walter Emerson, c.1974.

7 Whitehouse Bros Ledger (1922-1940), p. 340; Whitehouse Bros Ledger (1940-1954), p. 293; Whitehouse Bros List.

8 Personal communication to G. Cox from Walter Emerson, February 1973.

9 Personal communication to G. Cox from Leslie W. Rub, July 2003.

10 W.J. Simon Pierce Newsletter (Winter 1997).

11 OHTA News, vol. 25, no. 4 (October 2001), p. 14; The Organ Voice, vol. 28, no. 1 (March 2002), p. 30; The Sydney Organ Journal, vol. 33, no. 3 (Winter 2002), p. 23.