St. Andrew's Church - Toowoomba

1908 TO 2001


Brief Summary of Newtown Suburb History

The area was first surveyed in 1851. A total of 130 acres was offered for sale in February 1858. The area was purchased by George Thorn. A westward wave of development came shortly after Toowoomba was proclaimed a municipality in December 1860.

Newtown Estate was first developed in 1866. By 1871 West Street was a very popular residential area. Another release of land occurred at Newtown on 24 September 1877 with 52 allotments for sale with frontage to Russell, Wallace, Clairmont and Holberton Streets. The lots brought as high as 45 pounds each.

Many large and attractive buildings were completed in Newtown in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. These included: Weetwood, Spreydon, Tor, Ascot House, Kerrielaw, Elphin House and the striking Gladstone House.

When Gowrie Shire was abolished in 1913, the territory was divided between the Shire of Jondaryan and the town of Newtown. The town only survived until 1917, largely because of a large debt from the previous Shire. Previous authors of various articles have continually maintained that Newtown was a working class suburb. However, it is my view that there was considerable wealth in Newtown which was reflected in the many very substantial and expensive buildings erected there. Newtown continued to expand rapidly with the result that in 1924, Newtown State School was opened. This was despite the fact that Newtown already boasted several private schools.

Land purchase & opening of Sunday School

St Stephen’s Church, the senior Presbyterian Church in Toowoomba, had been concerned about the surrounding districts for some time in the 1900’s. The church needed an assistant to labour in those districts. In 1907 they purchased land at West Street for 128 pounds for Sunday School purposes. Included in that amount was 100 pounds from the legacy of John Graham. St Stephen’s then moved an unused church from Drayton to the West Street site for the Sunday School. This work was undertaken by Mr F. H. Chamberlin. The church had been erected at Drayton in 1892 at a cost of 150 pounds.

On October 7th 1908 a Sunday School was opened by Rev. Peter Robertson, Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church. A large gathering attended the opening. The Sunday School opened with a roll of 100 children together with several teachers. The first superintendent was Mr George Smith. He was followed by Mr J. Gardiner.

In 1910 a Mr D. J. McOmish (also spelt, McOrmish) was appointed assistant to Rev. J. Lundie (St Stephen’s). He looked after St Andrews and held regular services at West Street, Gowrie Road, Cawdor and Willowburn Asylum.

Committee of Management Appointed
In April 1910 the following were appointed to the Committee: John Cossart (Jnr), Albert Ellis, David Young, Wm Cramond, John Kennedy, R. Scott and W. J. Payne.

Womens Guild
A meeting was held in the West Street Church to found a Women’s Guild. Those present included Mrs McOmish, Mrs Palmer, Mrs McNaught, Mrs Cossart, Mrs Kennedy, Mrs Smith, Mrs Denyer, Mrs McLean and Mrs Partridge. Mr McOmish chaired the meeting.

The following committee was appointed: President - Mrs Palmer, Vice President - Mrs McOmish, Secretary - Mrs Denyer, Treasurer - Mrs McNaught. It was decided that the Guild would meet fortnightly and that the first meeting would be held in the West Street church on Saturday June 18th, 1910. Ten members were enrolled. They included:

  • Mrs Comish (paid 1/6 quarterly fee),
  • Mrs Palmer (1/6), Mrs McLean (1/6),
  • Mrs McNaught (1/6),
  • Mrs Cossart (1/6),
  • Mrs Smith (1/6),
  • Mrs Partridge (3/-),
  • Mrs Bews (1/6),
  • Mrs Denyer (1/6)
  • Mrs Cramond. (Honorary member)

It was decided that a second hand sewing machine be bought for use of the Guild. Work started immediately preparing goods for sale at St Stephen’s Fair. Proceeds from the stall a the Fair totalled 9 pounds six shillings. This was a very creditable result considering that the Guild had only been working for 4 months.

Church Enlarged
In August 1910 the church was enlarged. T his work consisted of building an extension, new seats and the installation of gates.

Church Growth
Because of the rapid growth of the Church, in 1910 a petition was prepared asking Presbytery to raise the Charge to that of a Sanctioned Charge with a right to call a Minister of their own. In the meantime it appears that Mr McOrmish and the minister at St St Stephen’s did not see eye to eye on a number of matters, including the question of insufficient salary being paid to Mr McOrmish. He then left the appointment!.

On December 18th 1912 St Andrew’s became a full charge with Rev. D.A.Brown as minister. A regular Session was formed and inducted on 14 May 1913. Also Permission was also granted to call the church, St Andrew’s, Toowoomba.

The first elders were G. Kemp (Session Clerk), W. Young, Geo. Smith, Henry Maltman, Alexander Scott, Alexander Wilson, Frederick Gardiner and John Gaydon. Rev. Brown remained at St Andrews until 1915 when a home missionary J. Robinson was appointed. He remained in this position for five years.

People of Note in St Andrew’s Early Days

Albert Ellis
Mr. Ellis was a Mayor of the short lived Newtown Shire Council . He arrived from England as a boy and entered the coach and blacksmithing business under Mr Thomas Trevethan. He was a Toowoomba Town Councillor for a short period. Mr Ellis was a foundation member of St Andrew’s Church as well as being Session Clerk. He was a keen Temperance worker. He was married with 2 sons and 3 daughters. He died on 24 June 1945.

John Reiss
A butcher who was a faithful member of St Andrew’s from World War I. He and his parents were devout members of St Paul’s Lutheran Church until the pastor was interned. He lost a son in 1917 in France - the son had to alter his name to Charles Reace for fear of persecution. John Reiss died in Toowoomba on 11 October 1942. The funeral service was conducted by Rev. Martin.

His grandson John must have had connections with St Andrew’s as well. He recalls, “One of the things I missed most in Toowoomba was the weatherboard church of St Andrew’s in West Street. I appreciated the fine new brick building, the diamond front window seen from the inside, and on a couple of occasions in the 1970’s I was permitted to play the organ, vividly remembered since 1928 when I was three years old. During my visit in January 1985, I found that the old building with its gothic windows had gone. What a joy to see a picture of the old St Andrew’s in your papers”.
(Letter to author 13 February 1985. John was married to Helen Harland at Canterbury Victoria . Her father was the last of Dr John Flynn’s camel padres.)

Miss Edna McNAUGHT
Born in Toowoomba in the early 1900’s, Miss McNaught taught at St Andrew’s Sunday School for over 60 years. She also sang in the church choir. As well she was secretary of the Red Cross and St Andrew’s Hospital Auxiliary. She died on 24 May 1981. She was described at her funeral by Rev. Geo. Stewart as ‘a simple, sincere, honest soul with a heart of gold’.

Miss Jean Bruce
Miss Bruce was born in Toowoomba about 1898. Her father was a monumental mason in Russell Street and a brother, Walter Bruce, was Toowoomba ‘Chronicle’ manager in the 1950’s. Miss Bruce was a foundation member of St Andrew’s Hospital Sewing Guild as well as an early member of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. By occupation she was a dressmaker who loved making clothes for her nieces and nephews. She attended North State School before attending Miss Fletcher’s private, one teacher, school in Christmas Street. She died in December 1991 and was survived by one sister, Mrs Heatly Black.

Miss Bruce cuts the cake at the (Guild) PWA’s 75th Anniversary.

5. Mr & Mrs P. Dewar, Mr & Mrs W. Boyd, Mrs Sparkes, Miss Laura Ellis, Miss Ruby Scott, Mrs Greenbury, Mrs Geitz and Mr & Mrs A. Black
These people were all very early members of St Andrews congregation.

Mrs Heatly Black (nee Bruce- 1923), Mrs Rogers (nee Thorburn- 1923) and Mrs Jean Althaus (nee Dumigan 1928) at the 1985 Church Anniversary.


The above ladies were 3 of the 10 folk who were guests at the Anniversary as they were all members of St Andrew’s before 1935. Others were Miss Ruby Scott (1914), Miss Jean Bruce (1914), Miss Lil Rowatt (1926), Mrs Mildred Wilkie (1926), Mr Russell Gray (1928), Mrs Jean Dunn (nee Saunders- 1920), Mrs Marjorie Reinke (nee Hagan).

6. Mr Jim Hagan
Mr Hagan moved to Toowoomba whilst very young. He was a builder by trade and was first Mayor of the Newtown Shire Council. There are still members of the Hagan family attending St David’s Presbyterian Church


Ald. J. Hagan

Alexander Cathro
Mr Cathro had been a constable in Dundee as well as a champion athlete before coming to Queensland in 1911. He joined a wholesale fruiterer opposite the Town Hall in Ruthven Street and later owned his own business near Cathro Park which is named after him. He was Deputy Mayor for a period and also still competed in athletic championships. He was actively involved in St Andrew’s Church.


Alexander Cathro

Mrs Cole’s 90th Birthday
Mrs Cole celebrated her birthday in April 1946 . A long and faithful member of the Church.

John Maag
Died September 1956

Ken MacFarlane
He migrated to Australia from Scotland in 1913 and came to Toowoomba at an unknown date. He became a Director of the local Building Society as well as chieftain of the Caledonian Society for 27 years. He was described as ‘ a devout member of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and was known as ‘the grand old Scot’.

The Honour Board, which was formerly located at St Andrew’s, included many men who served their country. A number of these men died whilst on duty. They included W. Bury, G. H. Maag, J. McLeod, C. J. & J. C. Reis, T. Sanders and C. Wonderley. Ald J. Hagan had 2 sons in the Forces. They were Wilfred Hugh and Stanley Hagan. Both enrolled on 11 February 1918 having been in the Cadets in Toowoomba. After training in Australia, Wilfred Hagan was on board a ship when the Armistice was declared. He served overseas before returning to Australia in September 1919. Wilfred returned to the Railways where he had worked before joining the Army.

Wilfred John Hagan

Stanley Hagan served in the Light Horse.
(Above information re Hagan family from Mrs J. Hagan of Dalby)


The church was strongly rebuked by the former curator of the Milne Bay Museum when it expressed no interest in keeping the Board when the Church moved to a new site in 20

New Minister appointed


There was a gap in ministries until Rev. A. M. Martin was appointed in 1921. Under Mr Martin’s kind and able leadership the church progressed and enlarged steadily for a period of 26 years. Rev. Martin joined the Home Mission staff in Queensland in about 1910 and served loyally at Cooroy, Nambour, Crows Nest, North Rockhampton and Norman Park. He studied at Emmanuel College and was ordained in 1921. He was then called to St Andrew’s in West Toowoomba where he remained until ill-health forced his retirement on 30 April 1946.

Mr Martin had not only been the minister to the people of St Andrew’s but also helped the ‘dead beats’ and the derelicts who sought his assistance. He had regularly visited the Toowoomba General Hospital and had seen many Presbyterians as well as others who were not of the same religion. He had always worked for the glory of God. Scots Church had found Rev. Martin a good friend as well since its establishment. He also visited both Toowoomba North State School and Fairholme College to provide religious instruction.

St Andrew’s bought a Manse in 1931. The Manse had always been a home for home missionaries who visited the area. Mrs Martin had made people welcome and both the Guild and Sunday School spoke with much appreciation of her service. For many years Rev. Martin was Clerk of the Toowoomba Presbytery. He was a benevolent advisor and friend to many. A highlight of his ministry was reached in 1936 when he became Moderator of the Church in Queensland. His genial personality, kindly spirit, his ready sympathy and his constant devotion to duty endeared him to all who knew him. He had a profound yet simple faith. At his farewell, he said of his wife: “I want to pay a tribute to my wife. I would not have achieved as much as I have achieved without the help of Mrs Martin”. Rev. Martin died in 1952 and his wife died in 1972. They had one surviving daughter.


The Martins lost a child who is buried in the Drayton and Toowoomba cemetery. Circumstances of the death are not known.

From the letters below, it is clear how much the church appreciated the Guild’s gift of a Communion table.

In 1935 a branch Church, Scots Church (originally known as the Blackdown Church) was opened further South along West street from St Andrew’s. The name Blackdown originated from Blackdown House, on the corner of West and Stephen Streets, which was built for Baynes Bros, butchers , of Brisbane. It was later sold to W.Taylor fand then again, in 1920, to storekeeper John Anderson (father of M.J.R. Anderson M.L.A.). There is some suggestion that the original name of the house was ‘Springlawn’.


Prior to the opening of the building in 1935, there were several members of the congregation who were associated with the church. They were: Greg Buchanan, who attended a Sunday School started by his mother in a house in First Ave, Bishop Park along with the children of Mr & Mrs L. Atkinson. In 1934 Mrs Anderson, owner of Blackdown House allowed this school to operate in the ballroom. Mrs Elsie Jones was a pupil. Those who attended services held in the ballroom included Mrs Daisy Robertson, Mr & Mrs Atkinson and Mrs Sybil Middleton. Mrs Jessie Beck was remembered for her stirling work in raising funds to build the new church. The original front fence on the property was dedicated to her. The inscription reads:


The Blackdown Kirk was founded as part of St Andrew’s on December 1 1935. The Church was opened by the Premier of Queensland, W. Forgan Smith. He was accompanied by his wife. They were welcomed by the minster of St Andrew’s, Rev. A. M. Martin, Moderator Elect of the Presbyterian Church of Queensland. The Church was controlled, not only by St Andrew’s but also by a local Committee. The Committee comprised W. Warren, W. Davidson, J.Rogers, John Anderson (treasurer), W. Beck (chairman), Rev. A. M. Martin, J. Buchanan (Secretary).

The Premier said it was only 12 months since 2 or 3 people had gathered together in the locality and formed the nucleus of the present congregation. The first service was held in a private hall owned by Mrs John Anderson, and was attended by six people. The private hall was part of Blackdown House, a landmark property in the area. Mrs Anderson also gave the land for the Church.

The first meeting was held at Mrs Phillip’s home and a Guild was formed with 5 or 6 ladies. At the time of opening the membership was 20. Fifty children attended the Sunday School with 8 teachers when the church was opened. At the time the Premier opened the church there were 50 attending each service. The new building was designed by architect M. C. Williamson and built by Low, Pugh and Arthur at a cost of 600 pounds. A congregation of 150 would fill the church.

Attending the opening were the Toowoomba Mayor Ald. J. D Annand, Mr J. Kane MLA, Mr E. J. Llewellyn and Mr George Cossart of St Stephen’s. The pulpit was given in memory of Norman Albert Arthur by the family. Also the following items were donated:
• Pulpit Bible - teachers and scholars of Blackdown Sunday School
• The Communion Table - Mr & Mrs T. Watson
• Communion set and Communion Chair - in memory of the late Henry Charles Mercer- donated by Mr & Mrs G. Rigby( Mrs Rigby’s uncle). Mr Mercer was once a partner in the firm of Rigby & Co.
• Carpets - donated by the ladies of Blackdown Church
• Pulpit chair - donated by Mr D. A. Mercer and Son ( a joiner by trade).
• Fence was erected and grounds cleaned by committee members and other helpers.
• Kindergarten chair was donated by friends and made by Mr Andrews.
• Collection plate was made by Mr John Montgomery of the Lockyer from a tree on his farm.
• Gates were donated by friends.


The first weddings at the new Blackdown Church were that of Nancy Farquharson to Robert Anderson, performed by Rev. A. M. Martin and of Beryl Carstens to Bill Robertson. In 1939 the name of the church was changed from Blackdown to Scots Presbyterian Church.


The first meeting of the Scots Kirk Session was held on 5 October 1941. Elders present were J. I. Buchanan, J. Rogers, W. Warren, and Rev. A. M. Martin. Mr L. Wills, although not present, was elected Session Clerk.

John & Jan Saunders (nee Robertson) were members of Scots during the1950’ s. Of recent years they have attended St David’s Church in Mary Street. Jan was baptised at Blackdown House before Scots was built. Mr Bill Kennedy recalls the church struggling in the 1950’s. Scots was still attached to St Andrew’s and was obliged to contribute one fifth of the minister’s stipend to St Andrews. The number of communicants at Scots was only 32 against 230 at St Andrew’s. Pressure was put on Scots to provide half of the minister’s stipend. Scots did not agree with this and appointed Home Missionaries, the first being Mr W. Bruce on 4 August 1953.

Presbytery agreed to the separation of Scots from St Andrew’s from 1 Aug 1953. Scots became a Home Mission Station in Harristown. Mr Bruce remained until Mr Hopkinson was appointed in March 1957 and Mr Morgan followed him in February 1958.

A manse was purchased for Mr Hopkinson on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Memory Streets in 1957. However there was a need for a manse closer to the church so on 19 August 1969 the manse was sold. Land was purchased at 7 Lockhart Court for $2,300 on the recently opened Blackdown Estate. A new manse was built on what were the stables of the original Blackdown House at a cost of $9,860.


Under Mr Hopkinson, Scots progressed and an approach was made to Rev. Fairlie Forrest of St Stephens to give information on how Scots could become a sanctioned charge. A Presbytery meeting approved that Scots become a sanctioned Charge with one minister strongly objecting! The Rev. Robert Crook, whilst ill in hospital, accepted the call to become Scots first minister in Feb. 1957. From material supplied from other sources he accepted the call in late 1958 and took up duties in February, 1959. Rev. R. Ramsay was appointed in December 1965; Rev. Bill Van de Meene Feb. 1971 and the Rev. Ned Denman in July 1974.

During the time Rev. Ramsay was minister, it was decided that Scots should have a new Church. The idea of the Church was first mooted at the annual congregational meeting held in March 1966. At first it was planned to extend the old Church but it was decided that a new Church was needed to cater for the increased congregation. In October 1967 the old Church was shifted to the rear of the land. The Scots War Memorial Church was officially opened on 2 August 1968 by the Moderator of Presbytery, the Rev. N.E.Key . The cost of the building was about $19,000.

During the Rev. Ramsay’s ministry, the church had jumped from 120 communicants to 210. In addition, from July 1968 Westbrook was added to his workload. In June 1977 Scots/Westbrook became part of the Uniting Church.

In the early 1940’s Session was increased to 13 members with J. McMaster as Session Clerk. The Session looked after the following country centres where the minister held regular services: Westbrook, Burton, The Farm Home For Boys and View Glen. The Session also supervised the work in the Crows Nest Charge. Session Clerks (up to the 1950’s) included George. Kemp, J. Robertson, A. E. Ellis (twice), J. McMaster, E. J. Dumigan and P. H. Althaus.

In 1947 a meeting was held in St Stephens vestry regarding church extensions in Toowoomba. Rev. White, Mr Stewart and Rev. J.R.Sweet were appointed as an inspection committee. Properties in Taylor Street and at Rockville were inspected further in the New Year (1948)

REV. J. R. Sweet inducted


Rev. J. R. Sweet was minister from June 1946 to December 1947. Mr Sweet was an air force chaplain for several years in World War 2. He was also in charge of Missions for a number of years.

New Sunday School
In 1947 a (new) Sunday School was opened


Rev. A. W. Fraser
He was followed by Rev. A. W. Fraser in June1948. His address (seen on church notepaper) for 1948 was 159 Russell St. He remained at West Toowoomba until May 1953.

Mrs Fraser’s death
The Minister’s wife was badly burned and died when a chip heater blew up at the Manse. Rev. Fraser later married again- to Rita Claus in 1952.

In September 1953 Rev. W. R. Cowan succeeded Rev. Fraser.


Rev. W. R. Cowan

Both ministers had previously conducted a survey of the Glenvale Road area and had determined the need for a church there. The seed of the scheme was provided by Rev. Alan Fraser with purchase of the ground for 300 pounds. Rev. Cowan saw the wisdom of forming a church at the earliest opportunity because of growth in the area. At first it was thought that the members of the Church could do the building work themselves but after the foundations had been laid and the framework commenced it was realised that it would take too long to complete by voluntary labour. Elder Stuart Taplin was employed full time to complete the task.

Before the Hall was opened, a Womens Guild was formed. In March 1957, the Church appointed the first elders who were S. Dunn, J. Robb and R. Rodgers. As part of St Andrew’s church, the Glenvale Church Hall was dedicated and opened by the Right Rev. Rowellyn Ramsay, State Moderator on Sunday 3rd April 1955.


A Sunday School was also commenced. Seven year old Warren Dunley said the words ‘I’m first in’ as Rev. Cowan opened the door of the Glenvale Church on 17 April 1955. Then 39 girls and boys came up the steps to enter the first Sunday School, some of them attending for the first time in their lives. Rev. Cowan, Misses King, White, Paton and Cooper formed classes. The next Sunday brought nine new scholars. This prompted the church to start a Young Worshippers’ League. The Sunday School had a display of their work and sale of goods on 26 May 1956. Classes in the competition included a plate of scones, a plate of coconut ice and prettiest apron.

Glenvale Road Indoor Bowling Club
The inaugural meeting of the Club was held on 12 July 1955. Mr D. R. Foxburgh (President), Mr E. K. Mercer (Vice President), Mr R. S. Rodgers (Secretary), Mr H. M. Cameron(Treasurer), Mr S. Dunn (Captain) with selectors J. T. Bradfield and J. Robb.

Donations to Glenvale Road church
In December 1955 donations to the church were recorded as follows:

  • Pulpit chair and hymn board given by Mr & Mrs B. J. Hagan with daughters Valerie and Gail and
  • Baptismal font - donated by Mr & Mrs James Devine
  • In April 1957 recently elected elders S.Dunn, J.Robb & R. Rodgers presented a bible to the church.

First marriage at Glenvale
The first marriage at Glenvale took place between Ray Colin Hagan and Gavina Wilson Watt on April 28th 1956. The ceremony was conducted by Rev. W. R. Cowan who followed the old Scottish custom of presenting the bride with a bible. The Sunday School children sang an anthem during the service.


In July 1956 a hymn book cabinet was donated by Mr & Mrs J. Bradfield and family to the Hall. Also in the same month the Pathfinders were in existence. The Indoor Bowling Club was presented with a Devine trophy by James Devine. In December 1956 Glenvale Road and St Andrew’s choirs sang for ‘Sacred Harmony’ over radio 4GR.


The church remained part of St Andrew’s until its closure in October 2001. The area surrounding the church had originally been mainly residential but of recent times there has been much more industrial rather than residential development.


Photo of part of the morning service congregation outside the old church. The photo was taken for use in the 1956 Wells stewarship campaign.


On June 12th, 1958 a Congregational meeting was held to determine whether the church should be moved from West Street to Campbell Street. It is not known why this was desired except that the proposed site would be closer to Russell Street which was part of the city centre. The strongest opponent of the move was the Managing Director of the ‘Toowoomba Chronicle’, Mr Walter Bruce though he was not even a church member! However he stated in a letter to the Presbyterian Church office that his family were foundation members of the Church and that his two sisters were still church members. His sisters were most unhappy about the proposed move. Church Office replied that the matter would have to be approved by Presbytery before any action was taken. It does not appear that the matter went any further than the Congregational meeting


St Andrew’s in 2006

In 1961, the Rev. J. McConaghy established a Survey Committee to determine what community support could be obtained for a Presbyterian Private Hospital in Toowoomba. Following a favourable response a Planning Committee was appointed during 1962.

In 1963 Mr and Mrs J. Bain of Jandowae donated 5 acres of land for the building of the Hospital.


The following year Mr & Mrs Bain donated $184,000 (a considerable amount in 1964) as a memorial to their son James Douglas.


The turning of the first sod was officially carried out on April 7, 1965 by the Rev. J. F. McConaghy, watched from the left by M. Just, E. Falconer, T. Rowe, J. Collins and D. Stewart. A contract for building construction was signed and the foundation stone was laid by Rev. McConaghy. The contract was awarded to builder Mr George Strohfeldt.

St Andrew’s Toowoomba Hospital commenced operation on 9 July 1966 as a 42 bed Private Hospital with 2 operating theatres. In 1980, approval was granted for an extension to increase the hospital’s bed capacity to 62 beds. The Hospital was further extended in 1983 to 72 beds which incorporated a 3 bed high dependency unit. 1987 saw an extension of the theatre suite to accomodate 4 theatres. Work also commenced on a 30 bed extension to be completed and opened in 1988 and which became the North Wing. Administration and foyer areas were also enlarged during this period.

A new kitchen, staff/conference facilities and coffee shop were part of a new wing opened in 1991. Major re-development incorporating Day Hospital, Storeroom, Engineering Services and increased parking spaces were completed in 1993/4. The Sleep Studies Unit was established in 1995 and a new state- of-the- art laundry facility commissioned in 1996.

In 1997 licensed bed capacity was increased to 111 beds and then to 129 beds in 1998 with the opening of the new East Wing and High Dependency Unit. Central Ward was refurbished during 1999.

2000 saw many changes to the Hospital with the opening of the Mental Health Unit in the refurbished West Wing of the Hospital. A Diagnostic Breast Clinic was established and the High Dependency Unit was upgraded to an 8 bed Adult Intensive Care Unit bringing the total bed number to 131. A Cardiac Rehabilition Unit, Continence Clinic and Oncology Clinic were also opened in 2000.

In 2001 the Hospital received a generous bequest from the late John and Beryl MacVean. It was agreed by the Hospital and the trustees of the estate that the funds would be used to build a Cardiac Catherisation Laboratory. 2002 saw the opening of the John and Beryl MacVean Cardiac Catherisation Laboratory as well as the first private Renal Dialysis facility on the Darling Downs.

2003 saw the commissioning of the Central Sterilising Supply Department and the licensed bed capacity was increased to 137 beds.

During 2007, St Andrew’s Cancer Care Centre treated their first radiotherapy patient on 28 May 2007 thanks to a successful $8. 6 million tender being awarded to the Hospital through the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing. The John Stedman Unit was also co- located to the St Andrew’s Cancer Care Centre during June 2007.

The hospital, in 2008, continues its contact with the Presbyterian Church.


In an ideal history, full details of every group at St Andrew’s would be given. However, because of time constraints, it is proposed in most cases to merely list the huge variety of groups which existed in this very ‘livewire’ church. All the groups which existed in 1988 were listed in St Andrew’s booklets issued in 1988. The organisations at that time were:

Established in 1968. It was originally called the Girls’ Guild which was formed in early 1955. The aim of the Group was to help girls become followers of Jesus Christ. It was formed so that those who could not attend the Ladies Guild in day time meetings could have a Guild. It mostly consisted of single ladies who worked. All ages were welcome to attend. The girls take part in activities including craft, cycling, dressmaking and dancing and had both junior and senior groups.

Leaders of the Brigade included Pat McClune (1968- 72), Heather Brownie (1978- 86), Leanne Canning (1986- 9) and Jenny Head (90’s). The Brigade held many reunions with the days usually including a cake-cutting ceremony, photo display, speeches from past captains and entertainment by captains of the day.


Aimed at the young people from the Sunday School who reached an age where they might leave the Sunday School. The group had a social function as well as teenagers bible studies.

The orchestra, under the leadership of Mrs Wendy Henry, aimed to play together in church for congregational singing as well as other functions.

Again led by Mrs Wendy Henry. They sung in church as well as taking part in missionary functions.

The aim of the PFA was to encourage and enable young people to bridge the gap between childhood and adult life within the Church. The gap was bridged by participation in worship, study, service and recreation. According to the St Andrew’s booklet ‘There can be no slackers or elitists in this organistion’.


Fellowship teas were held a few times a year. This photo was taken in the mid-1950’s


Existed in Number 1 and Number 2 Sections.
The 1st Toowoomba Boy’s Brigade Company was functioning from at least 1970 with leader being Paul Clark at that time.They were run as Clubs where boys met for fellowship and a good time. They also participated in Church parades as well as the Carnival of Flowers. In early 1971 Jack Bade was appointed leader of the Number 1 Section which was the younger age group. Jack lead this section for about 13 years.
Steve Head, Russell Bridge, Jeremy Dunn, Jim Klarenbeck and others were very involved as leaders.
It is thought that the Boy’s Brigade finished at St Andrew’s about 1992.


Carnival of Flowers Parade in the 1980’s(is this group from Brisbane?)

Led by domestic science teacher Loretta Ashford. The group was operating in the 1970’s and available to the over 20’s ladies.
Catered for weddings including the Robinson family’s daughter in 1971. The Group also produced 2 recipe books.

Locatedjavascript:; behind the Hall.

According to the 1988 booklet the Club, ‘goes well back into the history of St Andrew’s Church and has always been a progressive part of the Church life. In the earlier days the Club entered into competitive sport and inter-club play. The Club now concentrates on social games among ourselves and participating in Benefit games with other organisations’.


A block of land valued at 90 pounds on which the West Street manse was built.
Land at the corner of Hill and Claremont Streets was presented to the Church by the late W. R. Black. He also gave church furniture to St Andrew’s. A pulpit chair and carpet were presented by the late Mrs Rowatt. A set of communion chairs were given by various friends. A communion table was given by the Ladies Guild.


St Andrew’s group attending the wedding of a daughter of Dawson & Shirley Bates at Neil Street Methodist Church in 1984?. The people are (from left) Keith Robinson, Col Reimers, Janet Reimers, John Rainbow, Nola Robinson, Jan Rainbow, Jan Saunders, Phyll Scott, John Saunders, George Scott, Elva Dunn, John Dunn

Began early July 1956.


Prior to Rev. Cowan’s departure on June, 6th 1959, proceedings were begun to have the foundation stone of a new church laid. The opportunity arose during a visit by Rt Rev. Shepherd. This was a huge event in the life of St Andrew’s. The foundation stone was laid by the Rt. Rev. R. H. Shepherd, Moderator of the Assembly of the Church of Scotland on 22 August, 1959. Amongst other things he said were: “We are not living in a decadent age. We are living in an age in which God’s richest blessings may come to us if we have faith”. Amongst those attending was Toowoomba’s Mayor,
Ald. J. F. McCafferty who said, “The whole city will be proud of the new Church”.
Others in the official party included members of the Ministers Fraternal, Mr J. E. Duggan M. L. A, Ald. M. Anderson MLA., Mr R. W. Swartz- Parliamentary Secretary for Trade, Mr P. H. Althaus- Session Clerk, Mr Wiley of Church finance and Rev. J. A. F. Whyte. Children from Glenvale Road and St Andrews Sunday School and Kindergarten sang the 23rd psalm. At the conclusion of the ceremony Mr Althaus presented Dr Shepherd with a silver trowel.


(Still underneath the foundation stone are items of historical interest to the Presbyterian Church. These items were not recovered when the Church property was sold to the Buddhists.)

The following day the Moderator spoke to between 1600 and 2000 members of Presbyterian congregations at the Empire Theatre.

The new West Street Manse was opened by the former Moderator of Toowoomba Presbytery Rev. W. Walker of Dalby on Saturday 23 October 1960. The building was constructed of chamferboard with a brick base and a tiled roof. The Manse opening was the beginning of a week’s celebrations for the Church’s Golden Jubilee.


As well as the church services to celebrate the Manse opening, a barbecue was held at the Curtis Street home of Mr & Mrs Althaus. The barbecue was combined with a garden party/fete.


Rev. McConaghy was inducted into the Charge on November 26, 1959.

In the early 1960’s, to cater for increased growth in the church, extensive renovations were made to the Church. It had a porch which opened to the North but was altered to open from the East. Later another room was added for use as a small hall.


The opening and Service of Dedication was held on Sunday, 30 April, 1961. The Moderator of the Church in Queensland, Rt Rev. S. Lang, dedicated the building.

The wedding of Mr and Mrs J.Rainbow was held at St Andrew’s on 1 May 1961. Mrs Rainbow was formerly Miss J. McKenzie.


Deaconess Joan Johansen was appointed to St Andrews in early 1964. She greatly assisted the minister by extensive visitation and attendance at the many and various
church groups. She was followed later by Joan Brown (1970-5) and Dianne Yates from 1976 to 1981. According to church members who knew all of them, they all carried out their duties most efficiently and were very popular with everyone. They were described as ‘three wonderful people’.


Dianne Parker (nee Yates) has written about her work at St Andrews:

“Traditionally the Deaconess did the 'women's and children's' ministry. My main areas of responsibility were:

1. The religious education in Schools
2. Bible study groups/informal outreach groups for women
3. Oversight in the All Age Sunday School and PFA
4. Visitation of the aged, sick, shut-ins.
5. Some church services when required
6. Attendance at any of the Ladies' meetings.

St Andrew's in my time at least was blessed with a very good Kirk Session and there was a broad range and depth of people with gifts and ministries. Each elder who was able (some were elderly) had an area of responsibility and took that responsibility seriously. That meant that they attended the organization and dealt with any urgent and emergent problems and there were regular reports to Session of the activities of the groups and any areas for concern were discussed.


Cutting the cake at the 30th anniversary of the all age Sunday School.

This unique Sunday School was started by the minister of St Andrews, the Rev. Jim McConaghy on 15 July 1962. He had a vision of an all age Sunday School and felt the timing was right because a church and manse had just been built and three stewardship campaigns had been successfully completed. The church was growing and there was an expectancy of great spiritual growth. A Committee was formed and every home in the Charge was visited at least 3 times in the twelve months leading up to the introduction of the Sunday School.

It became clear that the congregation wanted the new All Age Sunday School so a date was set 5 months ahead to start. Teacher and leader training began as well as training in record keeping etc. The work involved was phenomenal.

A major problem was finding suitable rooms for classes and even the manse garage and tank stands were used to accommodate classes. The 2 halls were divided into small class areas by curtains. There were probably at least 12 classes in the large hall.
A special service was held for all the congregation and the old Sunday School was closed. Great emphasis was placed on families attending as a unit which was the main purpose of an all age unit.

The All Age Sunday School started on 15 July 1962 with an enrolment of 281 students including 73 adults. It very quickly increased to nearly 400 with 55 teachers and aides.
A nursery building was purchased very early in the history of the All Age Sunday School.It had 3 rooms- Babies, Kindy and Pre- School children. Children could attend classes as soon as they turned 2.

While numbers in some departments dropped quite substantially in 30 years, other departments have maintained a satisfactory consistency throughtout that time.
Visitation was continual as were attendances at church. During the first 20 months of operation the communicant membership also increased by 144.

The leadership provided by Rev. Jim McConaghy was outstanding . He and Ian Barlow met almost every morning before dawn to pray, discuss and plan. Ian Barlow later became the first General Superintendent. His future wife Miss Gladys Francis became the first General Secretary and Mrs Elva Dunn was the first records Secretary. At least 4 of the original teachers were still teaching 30 years later. They were Miss Ellen Fuller, Dawson and Shirley Bates and John Dunn. Maude Carllson not only served in the old Sunday School but continued in the new school until 1991.

Miss Edna McNaught served for most of her adult life in both the old and the new Sunday School until her death. George and Phil Scott served for a lengthy period until illness forced them to retire. Bernice Sloman set up the nursery next to the kitchen. Miss Lavada Dalheimer served as treasurer for 25 years and was always giving God the praise for the provision of finance.

Mr Keith Robinson was general superintendent during a very difficult period in the life of the Sunday School from 1970 to 1977 which is also the longest time served by a general superintendent. During this time he also assisted in the nursery department and was dearly loved by all the children. Dr Ian Scott was General Superintendent for 6 years.

Up to 1992 there were 7 General Superintendents and these were-
• 1962- 6 Ian Barlow
• 1967- 9 Bruce Watkins
• 1970- 7 Keith Robinson
• 1978- 9 Terry McIvor
• 1979- 1985 Ian Scott
• 1986- 90 Jack Bade

As well, Mark Butler, John Dunn, Joan Brown and John Webb also assisted for short periods as General Superintendent. In 1992 the Sunday School had a 2 year old and a 92 year old as scholars!


Mrs A. Jones, Mrs Stella Hoppe and Mrs Grace Francis were just a few of Ellen Fuller’s Sunday School class. Ellen led this class from the beginning of the All Age Sunday School until it closed.


The reunion of past and present teachers at the 30th anniversary of the All Age Sunday School in July 1992.

(The above report is a summary of a history of the all age Sunday School prepared by Terry McIvor on 18 July 1992)

There was a great emphasis at St Andrew’s on Missions and many folk from the congregation went on to full time mission work and ministry. The people include Wendy Ford ( Marshall), Graham Scott, Robin Watson, Ian and Denise Scott, Paul and Jenny Cavanough, Wendy Eyles, Ann Backhouse and tutor nurse- forgotten her name!. Each year a Mission Month was held with a particular theme highlighted.

INDUCTION OF Rev. N. T. Barker


Upon the resignation of Rev. Jim McConaghy, Rev. Barker was inducted into St Andrew’s in April 1967. He consolidated the wonderful work of Rev. J. McConaghy and remained in the Charge until December 1979. He was State Moderator during his time at St Andrew’s. Rev. Barker later took up a position as principal of the Presbyterian Theological Hall in Brisbane. He was replaced by Rev. Bruce Napper who was inducted into St Andrew’s Charge on 6 February 1981.


Rev. B. E.G. Napper carried on the good work of his predecessors. He has been described as ‘a humble man’. He remained at St Andrew’s until May 1990



Stage for 1984 P. W. A. lunch


PWA members at 75th Anniversary Celebration luncheon. 1985 Anniversary Celebrations



Rev. Nicholson was appointed licentiate as from December 1981 then later appointed as junior collegiate minister. He left in 1986.


JEAN FARQHARSON- President of the PWA in 1985


Grace Francis- Was involved with the PWA (Guild) as well as being a Sunday School teacher and visitor of the sick and shut-ins.

Sir Alan Fletcher’s mother

Notable Toowoomba identity who identified closely with ‘Flynn of the Inland’ and the Royal Flying Doctor Service. He was also heavily involved with other charities. He set up Cobb & Co Transport and had a lifelong interest in Cobb & Co. coaches. He was actively involved with St Andrew’s in numerous ways. Many years ago his property was used for Sunday School picnics.


Paul & Jean Althaus



Dawson Bates- Secretary of the Sunday School Committee. According to elder Keith Robinson an ever willing to assist.

Ron Rodgers
Originally involved with Glenvale Road Church but appointed choirmaster and organist at St Andrew’s when new Church built. (Is writing some history for me- I hope!)

Jack & Leone Bade
Captains of the Junior (No.1 Section) of the Boys Brigade. Jack was Session Clerk and an elder for a few years.

Elva & John Dunn
Started a Group for young people held in the Manse. This was before the establishment of the All Age Sunday School . Mr & Mrs Dunn then both taught in the All Age Sunday School.

Mrs C.Dare


PWA- Last meeting


Photo shows part of group who shared morning tea after their final meeting in 2001
St Andrew’s PWA were such a close knit group that they met for lunch (with their husbands!) every few months. This contined for a couple of years after their closure.

St Andrew’s was closed in late 2001 after the West Toowoomba Church opened at South Street on 10 October 2001. The former St Andrew’s Church and other West Street church properties was sold to the Buddhists for a Learning Centre. The Minister at this time was the Rev. R. Sondergeld.


The 1980’s elders were a very large and hard working Session

(Where known, their employment is included)

BADE Jack 4 Aug. 1974 ( school teacher)
BATES Dawson 17 May 1970 (barber then clerk with Police)


Leprosy bus trip outing. Shirely & Dawson Bates with Tess Geirke (nee Reilly) . Tess taught Sunday School at St Andrew’s before her marriage in 1957 to Fred. They then moved to St Paul’s Lutheran Church.

BRIDGE Russell 11 Aug.1991 (panel beater)
BUROW Ken 11 Aug.1991 (Refrig. mechanic)
BUROW Laurie 24 April 1977 (Defiance Flour)
BUTLER Mark 11 Aug.1991 (School teacher)
CARLLSON Fred 7 July 1968 (builder)
CARLSSON Oscar 17 Nov.1963 (Battery shop opp. Town Hall-lived til 101)
CLAUS Selwyn 29 Sept.1951 (Dept head with Pigott’s then Myers Store)
CLEWETT Murray 17 May 1970 (Engineer with Council. Wetlands named after him before death)
COOPER Arthur 27 Aug. 1961
DUNN Samuel (Glenvale elder & Orfords Soft Drinks employee)
DUNN Wallace 4 Aug. 1974 (School teacher)
DUNN John 20 Feb. 1966 (Clerk at Australian Wheat Board)
FITCH Reg. 20 Feb. 1966 (Police Officer)
FORD Owen 24 April 1977 (Ford’s Electrical Business)
FULLER Ellen 17 May 1970 (nursing sister at Toowoomba General Hospital then nurse educator)
GILBERT Clarrie 13 Aug.1961 (Owner of Spotless Dry Cleaners)
GILMOUR Adrian 17 July 1983 (motor mechanic)
GRAHAM Lamond 11 Aug.1991 (Dept of Primary Indutries)
GREEN George 11 Aug.1991 (computer salesman)
GREIG Barbara 4 Aug.1974 (nurse)
HEAD Steve 17 July 1983 (School teacher- died of leukemia aged 43)
HENRY David 11 Aug.1991
INGLETON Allan 24 Apr. 1977
JOHANSEN Lionel 17 July 1983 (Post Office)
McIVOR Terry 26 Nov.1972 (Council then with Creedon Surveyor)
MOBBS Trevor 11 August 1991
REILLY Stan 14 July 1968
REIMERS Col. 26 Nov. 1972 (farmer)
ROBINSON Keith 17 Nov. 1963
RODGERS Ron 10 March 1957 (accountant)
SCOTT George 17 Nov. 1963 (clerk at Butter Factory)
SILCOX Terry 11 May 1979 (Welder)
WATSON Jim 11 Aug. 1991
WILLIAMS Ron 17 May 1970 (clerk with Foundry in S.A. for yrs then Toowoomba Council)
TICKLE Charles
ALTHAUS Paul (School teacher at South Boys School)
REIMERS Fred (Farmer)
ROBB J. (Glenvale elder)
RODGERS Ron (Glenvale elder & accountant)
MacKENZIE Peter (T’bs Foundry)
SCOTT Ian (Lecturer in Education at DDIAE then later Qld Director of Leprosy Mission)
EVANS Allan (Inspector of State Schools)
PARKINSON Neville (Chiropractor)
ROBINSON Harley (Electrical linesman)
THOMPSON Ken (Salesman)
McKENZIE Peter & REIMERS Fred Both Peter and Fred were referred to by Rev. Norm Barker as ‘ his great prayer warriors’ like Aaron & Hur.

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