St James' Cathedral, Townsville

St James' Cathedral is the cathedral church of the Anglican Diocese of North Queensland, Australia, which was created from the Diocese of Sydney in 1879. The cathedral is situated in Townsville, Queensland. Built atop Melton Hill the large red brick structure is a well known landmark of the Townsville central business district.


St James' Church, c 1875

The original Church of St James was built in front of the current cathedral site in 1871 and was the first Anglican church in Townsville. The site on Melton Hill was purchased with the aid of parishioners at a sale of crown lands and work began on the on 24 May 1871. The structure was constructed of weatherboard with a shingle roof. This original structure was enlarged, extending the nave and north and south aisles in 1880 and an organ, donated by a Miss Holland, was added to the church in 1884. The church became the base of the new Diocese of North Queensland in 1879 when Bishop Stanton arrived from England.

Plans for a new and larger cathedral began on 5 August 1883 when members of the church initiated a movement "for raising the necessary funds for the erection of a Cathedral Church." The proposal to build a cathedral was approved by a church synod in 1884 and the Cathedral Building Committee was appointed. The intention initially was to have the cathedral designed by John Horbury Hunt. However, in 1885, Arthur Blacket, son of Edmund Blacket of Sydney was commissioned to design a building to be erected on the church land behind the existing weatherboard structure.

The initial designs called for a cathedral constructed of sandstone with granite columns which would hold 1000 parishioners. The nave would be 37 feet wide, transepts would be 24 feet wide and the total interior length from chancel to bell tower would be 115 feet. Many features of these designs were rejected upon review by the diocese and three revisions were necessary before a final plan was approved.

Early in 1887 the diocese called for tenders for the construction of the cathedral and the initial foundation stone was laid on the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, 27 June 1887. The cost of the cathedral's construction was estimated at £24,000. With the completion of the building's foundations in November 1887, building work stalled and was not restarted until 1891 due to a lack of funding. In order to reduce the cost of the structure the original plans to construct the building of sandstone were revised and the building was constructed of red brick with concrete taking the place of marble and granite.

Due to the lack of funding the decision was made to only construct half of the cathedral, with the other half to be completed at a later date. The apse, chancel, transepts and part of the nave and flanking arcades were built with a temporary roof constructed overhead. On 26 January 1896, Cyclone Sigma struck Townsville. The cathedral was relatively unaffected by this but Cyclone Leonta, which struck Townsville on 9 March 1903, destroyed the temporary roof of the cathedral. The roof was promptly replaced with a more permanent roof at the cost of £2,500.

In 1953 the Anglican diocese took actions to complete the project and Louis Williams of Melbourne was employed to complete the project. Williams completed the extension of the nave and flanking arcades, narthex and bell tower. The final foundation stone was laid in 1960 marking the completion of the cathedral.



  1. "A Ghost in a Rectory". 12 November 1969. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  2. "The Cathedral Parish" (PDF). Diocese of North Queensland. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  3. "Provenance-Creators and Custodians". Archived from the original on 22 December 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2012.

External links

Coordinates: 19°15′20″S 146°49′01″E / 19.2556°S 146.8169°E / -19.2556; 146.8169

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