No. 102 - Christchurch at Conara - 'A Sleeping Place'

A description of the settlement at Conara published in the Mercury in 1903 provides a useful insight into the township about a decade after the establishment of the Anglican church of Christchurch:

“Ninety-eight miles from Hobart and thirty-five from Launceston is the township of Conara, a railway settlement in every sense of the word, as most of the inhabitants are connected with the railway service. The line to St. Mary's joins the main one at Conara, and, as may be imagined, the railway traffic is heavy. The country to the north carries a fair quantity of timber, but towards Campbell Town plain, open country exists. The land round about Conara is in large holdings, and the principal industry is sheep grazing. There is practically nothing to see in the township, and the long wait that passengers on the branch line are compelled to put up with when travelling either to Hobart or Launceston on certain days, is very monotonous. Most of the dwellings are built of soft wood, and are neat in appearance. The Anglican Church is the only place of public worship, and is in close proximity to the station. There is also a State school. The only place of business is a hotel adjacent to the main platform. The post-office is located at the station”.

Today Conara is very little changed apart from having lost its hotel, school, post office and even most of the trains. The church survives but has long ceased services and has been a residence since 2010. 


Christchurch Conara opened in 1892 and its consecration was reported in some detail in the Tasmanian:

“Some time ago the residents of Conara and the surrounding district felt the necessity which existed for the establishment of a Sunday school, and efforts were made to obtain a suitable room to hold it in. The people who took this matter in hand were unable to arrange for the use of the schoolroom, and as the waiting room at the railway station was not available for the purpose, it was considered that the only alternative was to erect a new building, and Mr Robert Headlam, of Vaucluse, most generously offered the necessary ground, whilst others showed a willingness to assist the promoters in every way possible. The matter having been fully discussed it was decided that the building to be erected should be a brick one and Mr James Gray, of Campbell Town, was requested to prepare a plan for a church, which would also be used as a Sunday school. The warm sympathy and practical assistance rendered by the highly respected clergyman, who has charge of the large district of Campbell Town…caused the promoters to hasten the erection of the building”.

Bishop Montgomery laid the foundation stone for the new building on the 16th March 1892 and within three months the church was opened for its first service. The new building was described at length in the Tasmanian:

“The church is situated on the main road nearly opposite what was Mr Page's establishment in the coaching days, on half an acre of ground granted to the Church of England in Tasmania by Mr Headlam. The building is 32ft long and 18ft wide in the clear, and the walls are 10ft. It has a Gothic ceiling, doors, and windows, and is constructed of brick from Messrs Campbell and Jory's brickyards at Launceston. The entrance porch is 7ft by 6ft, and the interior is lighted by two windows at each side and one large window over the altar. The walls are plastered in the interior with Portland cement, but in consequence of the high quality of the bricks supplied the original intention of plastering the exterior has been abandoned, to the advantage of the general appearance of the building. The gables are ornamental, and each of them terminates with a cross. … A bell which has been in the possession of the generous squire of Vaucluse for a number of years has also been presented to the church, but has not yet been fixed in position…. The church font was cut from stone obtained at the Ross quarry…”

The report went on to describe the consecration:

“At 2 o'clock his lordship entered the building, accompanied by the Rev. Thomas McDowell, the incumbent of Campbell Town parish… Mr Cecil Youl read the petition for consecration of the church, which requested that it should be called Christ Church…. His Lordship then addressed the congregation, and said that it was only a short time ago since they were all present at the laying of the foundation stone of the building, ….He reminded them that when they saw a building being erected the stones scattered about were emblematic of the Christian Church, and of its work. The aim of the church was to collect all the scattered members into one great fold —one great spiritual body…. The Bishop then referred to the consecration of the adjoining ground as a cemetery, stating that it was 'only meet' that they should have such a resting place for those who had done their work in this life. The word "cemetery" was a beautiful one, being taken from the Greek and meaning a sleeping place”.

Christchurch itself has become a ‘sleeping place’. As the trains have all but abandoned Conara which has literally found itself off the beaten track.


Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018



Real Estate photos before the conversion of the church into a dwelling (Roberts Real Estate)





Real Estate photos before the conversion of the church into a dwelling (Roberts Real Estate)




Real Estate photos before the conversion of the church into a dwelling (Roberts Real Estate)




Real Estate photos before the conversion of the church into a dwelling (Roberts Real Estate)





Real Estate photos before the conversion of the church into a dwelling (Roberts Real Estate)






Real Estate photos before the conversion of the church into a dwelling (Roberts Real Estate)


Sources:
Daily Telegraph Wednesday 1 June 1892
Mercury Saturday 11 July1903
Tasmanian Saturday 4 June 1892

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

No. 990 - Hobart - St Mary's Cathedral (Part 1) - "The Wild Vines of Tasmania"

No. 988 - North Hobart - The "King Street" Church and School

No. 1058 - Strahan - St Finn Barr's Catholic Church (1900-2005)