No. 106 - Former Church of The Holy Family at Inveresk - Flood and Fire

The parish of the Holy Trinity in Launceston had established a Mission Hall in Russell Street Inveresk in 1894. By 1920, parishioners in Inveresk had begun fundraising to build a church to replace the old Mission Hall. Land had been purchased on Holbrook Street (previously called Gunn Street) in 1916 and the community set about planning the construction of a new church. By 1930, sufficient funds had been raised to begin building a wooden church designed by Alexander North. The ceremonial laying of the foundation stone was reported in the Examiner:

“There was an impressive scene on the building allotment at the corner of Gunn and Bedford Streets yesterday afternoon. Standing on the newly turned earth amid high-standing concrete piers, various dignitaries of the Church of England took part in the laying of the foundation stone of what is to be the Church of the Holy Family, in the parish of Holy Trinity. Flowing robes of bright colours seemed ill placed on the scene of ordinary, every day labour, but they created a reverent atmosphere”.

Inveresk had suffered from devastating flooding in 1929 thus the new building was designed to withstand any recurrence of future inundation. The report when on to describe the building:

“Then the architect (Mr Alexander North)…presented to Mrs Justin Browne a trowel and mallet respectively, and Mrs Browne performed the ceremony of laying the stone. The building will be cruciform in shape, with transepts and aisles on the north and south sides, and will have a total length of 68 feet, and width of 34 feet. There will be a small chapel on the south side, and entrance porches will be provided on the north, south, and, east sides respectively. The vestry will be placed on the north side. The sanctuary will be divided from the nave by a handsome screen which together with the other church furniture, will be executed in picked Tasmanian oak. The building will be constructed in wood carried on concrete piers to a height of six feet above the surface the piers being supported on wide spreading concrete footings. The floor level will thus be at a considerable height above the ground… Thus, should the future see another flood similar to the disaster which befell Inveresk last year, it may be taken for granted that every part of the church will be fully protected from damage. The building will have a pleasing and graceful outline and the large central tower placed at the intersection of nave and transepts will carry the thoughts to one of those old parish churches which give such a marked character to the English landscape”.

At a dedication service at the opening of the Church of the Holy Family in June 1930 the Examiner reported:

“Archdeacon Whitington, the Vicar General, expressed his admiration for the church, which, he said, was constructed on beautiful lines. He had had misgivings because the building was to be of wood, but they were now dispelled”.

These words proved to be a portend of misfortune. While the church had been designed to withstand flood, its wooden structure made it vulnerable fire. In 1971 it was totally gutted in an inferno, a fate that was unusually common for churches at Inveresk and Invermay .

A new church was built and rededicated in 1973 and consecrated in 1975. It was of a much plainer functional design, easily blending into the light industrial setting than North’s rustic church that reflected a yearning for the old country. The new Church of The Holy Family was closed and sold in 2007. Although it still stands on Holbrook Street, it is barely recognisable, even as a former church, covered with not religious but commercial iconography.

Source: LINC Tasmania LPIC147-2-00198


Photograph: Harcourt's Real Estate 2007

Photograph: Harcourt's Real Estate 2007

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Sources:

Stephens, Geoffrey and Anglican Church of Australia. Diocese of Tasmania (issuing body.) The Anglican Church in Tasmania : a Diocesan history to mark the sesquicentenary, 1992. Hobart Trustees of the Diocese, 1991.
Examiner, Thursday 12 June 1930
Mercury, Monday 14 April, 1930 (Church Column)
Examiner, Thursday 8 July 1926
Examiner Saturday 1 February 1930


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