No. 37 - Youngtown Primitive Methodist Church - From Furniture Van to Church

The ‘Young Town’ Church was the first Primitive Methodist Chapel in Tasmania, established in 1859. It had major repairs undertaken in 1936 and the Craythorne Road Chapel from Rosevears was purchased and added as a Sunday School Hall in 1949. Sadly, the thriving community which sustained it for so long dwindled away, and like so many of these small churches, has become a private residence.

A report in the Examiner in 1937, following its’ reopening, outlined the ‘Young Town’ place in the history of the early Methodist movement in Tasmania:

“… little chapel has stood at Young Town, and it provides one of the few remaining links with Primitive Methodism which existed before the wider union of 1902. In 1810 two Methodist local preachers in England, Hugh Bourne and William Clowes, separated from the Wesleyan Methodist connection and founded the Primitive Methodist Church, which from the first became noted for its intensely evangelical spirit. It differed from the Wesleyan Church in that the laymen played a predominant part in matters of church policy. In the 50's of last century, a vessel arrived in Launceston with a large number of zealous members of the Primitive Church on board. Immediately on arrival they held on Windmill Hill one of the camp meetings, which were a characteristic of Primitive Methodism”.

These ‘camp meetings’ at Windmill Hill were held around a ‘furniture van’ (a covered cart or caravan) lent by Mr McDonald by the Reverend J Lindsey. This lead to a quest to establish a permanent church in Launceston:

“In 1858 this band if earnest people sent home to the British conference sufficient money to enable their first minister Rev. Joseph Langham to be sent out to Launceston. The first place of worship to be erected for the Primitive Methodists in Tasmania was the little chapel at Young Town, and since 1859 it has stood as a meeting place for "the people called Methodists." The chapel was built at a cost of £184 on land given by the late Mr Robert Purse. In 1902 it lost its identity as a Primitive Methodist Church when the three sections of the Methodist Church, Wesleyan, United and Primitive became one”.

The church was closed for a time and renovated due to its deteriorating condition. The Examiner reported on the improvements when it was reopened in 1937:

“ In 1936 it decided to put new foundations in the historic old church and to rebuild parts which were in a bad state of disrepair. This has been completed, and the church, inside and out, has been renovated The result is that at beautiful little chapel will stand for many years as a memorial to those first Methodist pioneers of this district. Four memorial windows have been placed in the church, the gifts of the descendants of some of these pioneers. The honoured names of Robert and Emma Purse, Noah Grace and John Langdon, who for many years worshipped in the old chapel, have been remembered”.

The Youngtown Primitive Methodist Chapel is listed on the Tasmanian Heritage Register and is described as “suitably austere” building. It is a pity that such an important church in Tasmania’s history lies almost forgotten in a side street of Youngtown.

A note on the name ‘Young Town’
Young Town, or Youngtown as it is called now, is named after Governor Sir Henry Fox Young (1803-1870) whose governorship was ‘turbulent’. I am not sure when or why the spelling of Young Town changed to its present form. 

Youngtown Primitive Methodist Church 2018 (Duncan Grant)

Youngtown Primitive Methodist Church 2018 (Duncan Grant)

Youngtown Primitive Methodist Church 2018 (Duncan Grant)

Youngtown Primitive Methodist Church 2018 (Duncan Grant)

Examiner Friday 19 March 1937 

The Chapel in 1955 :  QVMAG 1983: P: 0150


Examiner Saturday 13 March 1937.
Examiner Friday 19 March 1937.
Mercury Friday 19 March 1937.


  1. This little place is much closer to the ideal than the church I visited today, dripping with Donatellos and Berninis, gold and marble. While it's a magnificent showcase of engineering and artistic talent, I can imagine Jesus, or someone needing sanctuary, to feel more welcome in the furniture van.

  2. Absolutely. The down side is that it is a bit cramped. But cosy!


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