27 Jan Toowoomba’s St Patrick’s Cathedral
Travel along James Street you can’t miss Toowoomba’s St Patrick’s Cathedral. This heritage-listed Roman Catholic cathedral it was designed by Toowoomba architect James Marks. Construction started in 1883 with the cathedral as it is today, completed in 1935.
Built from basalt, the cathedral is built in the Victorian Gothic style. The original church was built between 1883 and 1889 and consecrated on 17 March of that same year.
The Cathedral’s walls and foundations were built from blue stone while the buttresses, pinnacles and piers were of freestone, which was mostly sourced quarries at Murphy’s Creek. The newspapers of the time praised the new cathedral. The Brisbane Courier newspaper described the facade as having a “majestic and stately appearance”. The Toowoomba Chronicle reflected upon how St Patrick’s was “stately yet elegant in appearance, at once handsome and massive, and by its beauty adds very much to the amenity of the town . . . . clergymen and parishioners alike may feel proud in the highest degree at the most praiseworthy and satisfactory result of their labours”.
Yet the Cathedral was not fully complete. Plans were in place for the enlargement of the chancel and the addition of an eastern and western transept. Still other items were only temporarily in position, including the chancel window, the pulpit, and an organ on loan from W.H. Paling & Co.
In 1927, the architect John Donoghue was commissioned to design the new brick Presbytery. The presbytery was built by H Cheetham and consecrated on 12 February 1928. Also built were maid’s quarters, a laundry, an underground tank, a brick belfry.
In 1930 the architect Arthur Bligh was employed to design a tower with a belfry and spire. He was also commissioned to design a mortuary chapel for the bishop, priest, sisters and altar boys. The result was the cruciform shaped cathedral you see today.
On 24 March 1935, St Patrick’s was completed and a ceremony, attended by 7000 people, was conducted by Archbishop James Duhig.
In the early 1970s the architectural firm Durack & Brammer was commissioned to carry out a report on the Cathedral’s condition. If was found that the cathedral was in need of restoration. The roof and guttering needed replacement and the outer walls needed sealing and re-pointing. The internal walls need replastering and other cosmetic works. J H Wagner & Sons were the main contractors for the job, which was started in May 1972 and scheduled for completion in February 1973.
Other works included in the renovations were the removal of a polished timber choir gallery and the separation of the marble altar to reposition it according to changes sanctioned by the Second Vatican Council. A hall was built behind the Cathedral at the same time. St Patrick Parish Centre was constructed in 1979.
During the 1980s, the Cathedral’s stained glass was replaced. In 1989, to mark the centenary of the opening of St Patrick’s, a new bell tower was constructed.
Restoration work was carried out to the Presbytery in 1991. In 2001, a major conservation plan for St Patrick’s was published for the Diocese of Toowoomba and the following year work began on stabilizing the leadlight windows.
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