St James Cathedral
Since 1871, St James' Cathedral has been at the heart of North Queensland. It has ministered to a Diocese spread from the Torres Strait to Sarina in the south and west to the Queensland-Northern Territory border. St James' Cathedral has undergone major refurbishment in recent years, such as the restoration of the Bell Tower, replacing the main roof and other works.
A Cathedral is not just a building; it stands with and for the community and holds the memories of the community's important life events. Help us to keep St James' Cathedral beautiful and functional so that it can exercise the ministry is was consecrated for in this glorious region of God's creation.
The history of St James' Cathedral is also a history of the pioneering and enterprising spirit of North Queensland. When there were only a few houses and buildings, the first Anglican services were held at the Townsville Court House. By as early as 1871, the 700 locals had pitched together to build a weatherboard church on the current site.
By 1878, the Anglican Diocese of North Queensland was created although Townsville was still a tiny village. Undeterred by smallness of size and distance from the city, some enterprising souls decided to erect a cathedral long before Brisbane had one. The architect Arthur Blacket of Sydney was commissioned in 1885 to design a cathedral church to be built behind the then St James' Church.
Construction began on the Cathedral in 1887 and the first stage was completed in1892. The Cathedral was then about half the current size. Some damage to the roof in 1896 was repaired and the Cathedral was consecrated in 1898. The Cathedral was built in red brick with concrete facings, but limited finances dictated that the roof was only temporary.
In 1903, the temporary roof was lost entirely when, on 9 March, Cyclone Leonta devastated the region and tore off the roof of the Cathedral. Typically, the city picked itself up and started rebuilding the Cathedral.
In 1933, a spark from a fire half mile away caused a fire and damaged the roof in the Lady Chapel. The whole roof had to be repaired again.
Around 30 years later, the second stage was completed. The architects Louis Williams of Melbourne and Ford, Hutton & Newell, of Townsville and Brisbane were commissioned to design further extensions for the Cathedral. Additional work was conducted on the western side and the tower between 1959 and 1960. The well-known white stone statue of St James the Great, situated by the front doors, was erected in 1960.
In the past 121 years, St James has been the centre of a multicultural spiritual community of European, Australian and Torres Strait Islanders. St James has also had special care for The Mission to Seafarers at the Port of Townsville since 1927. The Cathedral continues to accommodate many annual events including –
- The Festival of Chamber Music
- The Opening of The Legal Year Service
- James Cook University’s Multi Faith Service
- The Police and Rescue Services Annual Memorial Services
St James also continues to have a relationship with Townsville’s many military formations, especially the 31st Battalion, Kennedy Regiment. The Cathedral remains as a vibrant civic and community facility and is also hosts organ recitals, orchestras, choirs and other artistic ventures for local schools.
The heritage listed building remains as a focal point for one of the largest dioceses in Australia, stretching from Sarina to the Torres Strait and west to the Queensland-Northern Territory Border.