St. Albans Chapel Centenary

When the war broke out in 1914, the Empire looked to her public schools for men who could set an example of obedience to the call of duty, and the Empire did not look in vain. Over 81% of old boys of The Southport School and listed, while there were others whose names have not been secured.

From The Southport School itself, 300 responded to the call and of those, 17% made the great sacrifice. Many honours were gained by Old Southportonians’, and amongst those whose records are well-known, that of Major Quinn (Quinn’s Post – Gallipoli), will always be prominent. In 1916, the school decided that was a duty and privilege to build a memorial chapel in honour of these men. The chapel is to be a Memorial not only for those who have fallen, but to all who have answered the call of King and country, and it was felt that no better method could be found of keeping before future generations, the glory of self-sacrifice in the memory of those who had willingly gone forth to serve their country.

Considered to be the spiritual heart of the School, within the entrance to St Alban’s Chapel, is the Narthex, an honour board that lists the names of all past students who served in The Great War, with those killed in action listed in the centre panel while the outer panels show the names of all who served. Over time the stained glass windows were dedicated to various people, including former students killed in action and some who returned safely, as well as staff and loved ones.

An urgent appeal was established, engaging all friends of the school for liberal assistance. Donations were at that time directed to the Treasurer of the Memorial Chapel Fund at the school for the project valued at 8000 pounds.

The Chapel was the first building to be built on the hill site and in the Neo-Gothic style characteristics by Messrs Atkinson and Conrad (Architects) of the newer buildings at the School. It was consecrated in 11.00am November 13th, 1921 by His Grace, the (second) Archbishop-Elect of Brisbane, Dr Gerald Sharp, with the Chapel filled to overflowing with the Founder and Headmaster Canon H Dixon outlining the history of the memorial. Sgt M Delpratt, who was taken prisoner on Gallipoli, read the role of old Southportonians who gave their lives. The Roll of Honour of those who enlisted was read by Master JR Warner, the senior prefect of the school and the tradition of turning each page of the Roll of Honour continues to this day by the School Captain.

A unique feature is that the pews face inward, in collegiate style. Banners hang from the ceiling, representing each of the School’s Houses, including the Prep School.

Above the Narthex is the Chapel organ. The first organ is St Alban’s was a small tracker (mechanical) action instrument which was considered by some, quite inadequate for a chapel full of schoolboys singing at full volume. It was a 2 manual instrument. The second and current organ, was built specifically for the Chapel in 1924-25 by Whitehouse Brothers of Brisbane. The pipes came from an English company, Palmers of London, who are still operating. The instrument was opened and dedicated 22nd February, 1925, with the Pedal Open Diapason 16ft (a large Open Wood) added in November 1925. While the cost price at the time was almost 1600 pounds, the replacement of a similar organ is estimated in excess of $1 million. In reference to writing in The Southportonian around that time, the organ was not quite as large as its designed (HJ King) had planned, and this was largely for financial reasons

An Appeal was held to raise funds and indications are that donations were received and the organ paid for by parents and friends of the school. The full cost was guaranteed by Mr JW Lahey, a major benefactor of the school. Mr Lahey was also the donor of the school clock.

In 1976-78 there were proposals to remedy many problems by rebuilding and enlarging the organ to its original potential, but these were not carried out for school budgetary reasons.

Sources:
Brisbane Courier (page 9) Wednesday 29th September, 1920
The Daily Mail (page 4) Monday 4th October, 1920
Brisbane Courier (page 9) Wednesday 14th October, 1921
The Telegraph (page 2) Tuesday 15th November, 1921
The Queenslander (page 40) Saturday 10th December, 1921
The Organ of St Alban Chapel – TSS (R Moore)
The Southport School Archives

 

 

 

 

 


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