No. 85 - Baptist Church Bracknell - 'A Great Tea Fight'

The Baptist Church at Bracknell opened in November 1885 although a Baptist community had been meeting prior to this in the Bracknell Temperance Hall for close on a decade. The church was built mainly as a result of the efforts of Pastor Wood of Longford. The Gibson’s of ‘Native Point’ who had also funded the Baptist Tabernacles at Longford, Perth and Deloraine contributed significantly to the building costs. The opening of the Bracknell church was reported by the Daily Telegraph of Launceston:

“The building…is placed upon an eminence overlooking the township and country around, and is a plain but neat wooden building, with comfortable porch, inside comfort, neatness and convenience…The building is well lighted and ventilated and presents a most cheerful appearance throughout …. [It] is really an ornament to the township and the friends of Bracknell are to be congratulated upon possessing such a building destined, no doubt, to become the birth-place of many trophies of divine grace through the preaching of the gospel within its walls”.

William Gibson himself conducted the Saturday morning opening service and “his discourse was listened to with rapt attention”.

The Telegraph went on to describe what it called the “great tea fight” on the following Monday:

“The great “tea fight” took place, and truly, it was a great gathering, the Temperance Hall having three tables its whole length filled to overflowing four times, and the numbers who sat down must have exceeded 350. However, the bountiful supply of good things proved sufficient and all received enough and to spare”.

For a small remote community the opening of a new church with visiting dignitaries would have been an exciting event. A report in the Daily Telegraph almost 20 years later gives us a somewhat unusual view of this rural community:

“On visiting Bracknell for the first time a stranger is struck by the relationship conservatism that exists there. During the fifty years or more of its existence an intermarriage in families has been going on, and if a local directory were to be compiled, three names, Pitt, Pearn, and Prewer, would probably fill three-fourths of its columns. At any time a stranger might safely say, when meeting a man, “how do you do, Mr Pitt”, without meeting with the rebuff of, “You’ve the advantage of me.” Perth wasn’t anxious to have its name changed the other day, but Bracknell might with complacency change its to “Pittsburg” and make the town even more idealistic it might be surrounded with a fence of Pittosporum".

The Pitt’s, Pearn’s and Prewer’s must have been people of faith because Bracknell’s old Baptist Tabernacle still survives relatively unchanged and continues to hold religious services although now under the banner of 'Mountain View Community Church'.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018


Daily Telegraph Saturday 30 January 1904
Daily Telegraph Wednesday 11 November 1885
Daily Telegraph Monday 14 September 1885
Daily Telegraph Friday 15 November 1901
Tasmanian Saturday 23 April 1887


  1. Hi Duncan
    Thank you for your very informative article about the church at Bracknell!
    They are a faithful bunch who meet there, and we love them very much.

    I am the Communications Manager at Tasmanian Baptists and there are a few corrections needed required, including that it is still a Baptist church (no - not "former").

    Happy to discuss. It would be great to have accurate info on the web.
    Can you please contact me:
    Or you could use my gmail address with this Comment.

    Thanks for all your work. This is a very comprehensive blog! :)

    Jenny for Tasmanian Baptists


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