St John's Anglican Church

Downey Street, Alexandra

Built circa 1870 Gray & Davison, London, for Chappell & Company
Earlier locations unknown (private residence, Melbourne?)
Installed circa 1938 St Roch’s Catholic Church, Glen Iris
Installed 1978 residence of Ann Blore, Ascot Vale and later Surrey Hills
Restored 1990 S.J. Laurie and installed at present location
1 manual, 3 speaking stops, mechanical action, pedal pulldowns

St John’s Anglican Church, Alexandra: drawing by Louis R. Williams
[The Age (11 August 1938, p.17)]

Historical and Technical Documentation by John Maidment
© OHTA, 2010 (last updated August 2021)

St John’s Anglican Church, Alexandra was designed by prominent church architect Louis R. Williams and built in reinforced concrete. The building was dedicated and opened on 14 August 1938.1

The organ was built by Gray & Davison, London2, circa 1870 and marketed as a standard drawing room model by the English firm of musical retailers Chappell & Company. The instrument has an attractive case with carved cresting, filigree fretwork panels and two three-pipe towers.

Its original location is unknown, presumably a private residence somewhere in Melbourne. It was installed in St Roch's Catholic Church, Burke Road, Glen Iris around 19383, when the church was opened, possibly by C.W. Andrewartha. The Open Diapason was extended at this time to CC through the addition of 12 pipes operated by tubular-pneumatic action, mounted on the side wall of the organ loft.4 It remained there until 1978 when it was removed to the residence of Ann Blore, first at Ascot Vale and then at Surrey Hills. At this time the facade pipes, previously painted silver, were elegantly diapered in sage green and gold by Marc Nobel, this being his first exercise in this art. The damaged mahogany fretwork panels were expertly restored by Alastair McAllister.

The instrument received a thorough restoration by S. J. Laurie in 1990 involving extensive work on the action, wind system and pipework, together with the insertion of a tenor C metal Piccolo 2ft on a slide originally used for a Dulciana, but later a Viole and more recently a 2-2/3 made from the former string stop.5 The organ was installed in Alexandra late in 1990.

St John’s Anglican Church, Alexandra: organ at the residence of Ann Blore
[photograph by John Maidment (circa 1985)]

St John’s Anglican Church, Alexandra: organ placed in left transept
[photograph by John Maidment (circa 1990)]

The organ was installed in Alexandra late in 1990.

Open Diapason
Stopd Diapason


stopped bass; open treble
TC metal (replacing Dulciana 8 TC)

mechanical action
compass: manuals 56 notes; pedal pulldowns 25 notes

1 Alexandra & Yea Standard, 12 August 1938, p.2

2 A photograph exists in an album of photographs taken in the Gray & Davison London factory, showing an almost identical organ

3 St Roch’s Church, designed by Patrick J. O’Connor in Spanish Mission style, was blessed and opened on 6 February 1938 – Advocate, 3 February 1938, p.3

4 Noted by John Maidment February 1966

5 Notes by John Maidment