No. 93 - The Wilson Street Presbyterian Church - A Road Too Far

I had information that a Presbyterian church had once existed in Wilson Street in South Launceston but could find no trace of it.  I didn't think to look up and over the Midland Highway that blocks the end of Wilson Street. And that is where it is.  A search of old maps and Wise's Tasmanian Street Directory confirmed that the invisible 'hall' on the far side of the four lane Southern Outlet was indeed the old Presbyterian church.

The turn of the 20th century was a good time for Presbyterians in Launceston with two new churches being constructed in the same year; one in Invermay and the other in Wilson Street at Glen Dhu.

The Wilson Street Church seems to have been constructed with the purpose of it functioning as a community hall as well as church and Sunday school. Press notices and advertisements reveal that a number of organisations used it, such as the Red Cross Society, the South Launceston Public Hospital Auxiliary Association and even a Harrier Club.

The Examiner covered the laying of the foundation stone of the Wilson Street church hall in November 1905:

“In glorious weather yesterday afternoon the foundation stone of the new Presbyterian Church…was laid by Mr Lindsay Tulloch…. The edifice is of modern design, so that it can serve the purposes of a hall and a school. The uprights are already in position, and it will be completed about the middle or end of January…The building will be of timber, with plaster walls inside, and a lined ceiling, and will be 50ft by 30ft….it is expected to seat about 200 or a few more….The location of the building is off Glen Dhu road, and faces Wilson Street”.

The church continued to operate in this location until the 1950’s when its congregation relocated to a newly constructed building in nearby Glen Dhu Street. The reason for this move is not clear but it may be related to land acquisitions for the Midland Highway, Launceston’s Southern Outlet, which was eventually built in 1983. The road development effectively cut Wilson Street in two leaving the old church stranded in a cul-de-sac, completely cut off from South Launceston.

The new Presbyterian Church of St Stephen’s opened in 1958 but had closed by 1985. It was used for a time by the Assembly of God and is now the premises for the Launceston Bridge Club. It does not share the beauty of the old Wilson Street church hall but both buildings are a reminder of the once thriving Presbyterian community that once existed South Launceston.


Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018
Source: The Weekly Courier 26 August 1920

Examiner Thursday 9th November 1905

The new Presbyterian Church of St Stephens - Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

One of the few clues that this building was once a church; a window in the shape of a cross.  Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Only the vertical of the cross remains on the tiny steeple.  Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018


Sources:

Examiner Thursday 9 November 1905
Examiner Monday 29 January 1906
Examiner Friday 25 July 1941

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