No. 57 - The Former Christian Mission Church Launceston - Three Pigs and a Horse

Tucked behind the Gateway Baptist Church on Wellington Street lies Henry Reed’s original (Wesleyan) Christian Mission Church. Henry Reed was a prominent Launceston landowner, shipowner, merchant and philanthropist. The story of the founding of his church is related in an amusing account in the Examiner:

“One day in 1875 when the Cataract Hill was nothing more than a bare hill, … a coachman from Mount Pleasant, the home of Mr Henry Reed, was out exercising a horse which had a great antipathy to pigs. Perhaps it was fate, for the horse had not gone very far before three pigs were sighted. It bounded forward and finally collapsed in front of Par's Hotel, in Wellington-street, next to where the Memorial Church now stands. It was cared for by the hotel proprietor, who soon after received a visit from Mr and Mrs Reed. A fervent preacher of the Gospel Mr Reed was looking for a piece of land suitable for the erection of a mission hall, and his meeting with Mr Par led to the purchase of the property and the subsequent establishment of the Christian Mission Church, later called the Memorial Church…”

The Examiner went on to explain how the construction of the church progressed:

“The church work began in July, 1876…. A Sunday school was commenced in 1877….a temporary place had to be prepared in which to hold the services while the building was being erected, and this was accomplished by clearing out and fitting up some of the old stables on the other side of the yard, where the congregation worshipped for more than 12 months. On June 6, 1880, the new building was opened for service. It was capable of holding three hundred people”.

At its opening in 1880, the Examiner described the building as:

“…pretty yet plain and substantial structure, and well adapted for its object. The main hall, which is 58ft by 26ft, is fitted up with varnished blackwood, the seats being of blackwood and cedar….”.

Reed did not live long enough to see his church thrive and prosper. He died in October, just months after its opening. Within the space a few years the congregation outgrew the Christian Mission Church and a new larger building was constructed in 1883, leaving the originally building both metaphorically and literally in its shadow. Until recently the old Christian Mission building housed the Korean Full Gospel Church.

The new Henry Reed Memorial Church, now known Gateway Baptist Church, will be covered in a separate blog entry.


Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Henry Reed - Wiki Commons - photo in the public domain

Sources:
Examiner Saturday 5th June 1880
Examiner Saturday 29th June 1935

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