No. 35 - The Launceston Baptist Tabernacle - Swallowed by the City

The former Baptist Tabernacle which stands on Cimitiere Street cuts a lonely figure amongst the wasteland of carparks and mixture of commercial buildings of uncertain pedigree. It looks like a bank, and indeed was a bank in recent years. But it was once an imposing Baptist Tabernacle.

The Baptist movement had its beginning in Tasmania when the Rev. Henry Dowling landed at Hobart in 1834, and arrived at Launceston in February, 1835. The first church in Launceston was erected In York Street in 1841; the Tabernacle followed in 1883, and the Elphin Road church in 1905. Another church was opened in Wentworth Street, Newstead in 1935. All of these will be explored in seperate blog entries.

The Tabernacle was built in 1883 and was the gift of William Gibson of Perth.
 The opening of the Tabernacle was reported in the Examiner:

“The foundation-stone of the new Tabernacle in Cimitire street was laid yesterday afternoon, in the presence of a large assemblage of people, many of whom came by special train which ran from Deloraine, and called at all intermediate stations. The Tabernacle, which will cost when finished £5719, will hold from 800 to 1000 people, and is being built by Mr. Gibson, of Perth, and his son".  (Examiner 8 June 1883)

By the 1940’s membership of the church had declined as it became enveloped in Launceston’s growing business and industrial centre. A new Baptist church was established 
inBrisbane Street near City Park (the Central Baptist Church) as it was considered to be more central for parishioners. In 1983 Central Baptist Church bought the Christ Church Congregational Church and Milton Hall buildings and it became Christ Church Baptist Church.

The recent history of the Tabernacle has been a series of commercial premises. As a protected building on the Tasmanian Heritage Register, its integrity has been maintained although it has ceased to be a church since 1950.

Examiner 8 July 1950

QVMAG 2006 P0139    The Tabernacle in the 1940's gradually being enveloped by the commercial district

Additional sources used:


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