No. 140 - Lalla Presbyterian Church - 'The Brewer's Dog"

The old Presbyterian Church at Lalla was recently in the news when it was moved from Lalla Road to a new site in a Lalla Vineyard where it will be used for cellar door sales.

This is not the first move that the church has had. It started its life in 1905 as a Presbyterian Church at Brown Mountain, on the road between Karoola and Underwood. The earliest newspaper record I have found of the Brown Mountain Church is a report of a social evening held “in the new Presbyterian Church…the proceeds being devoted to giving some finishing touches to the building”. The evening consisted of a programme of songs and recitations; some religious, others humorous and even a “temperance piece”; The Brewer’s dog, recited by Miss Ella Reid:

“The brewer's dog is abroad, boys.
Be careful where you stray,
His teeth are coated with poison,
And he's on the watch for prey.
The brewery is his kennel,
But he lurks on every hand,
And he seeks for easy victims
The children of the land.
His eyes gleam through the windows
Of the gay saloon at night,
And in many a first-class "drug- store"
He is hiding out of sight.
Be careful where you enter.
And, if you smell his breath,
Flee as you would from a viper.
For its fumes are the fumes of death.
Boys! would you kill the bloodhound?
Would you slay the snarling whelp?
I know that you can do it
If every one will help.
You must make a solemn promise
To drink no ale or beer,
And soon the feeble death-wail
Of the brewer's dog we'll hear.
For, if all keep the promise,
You can starve him out, I know;
But, if boys and men keep drinking,
The dog will thrive and grow”.

I think it is fair to say the the good Presbyterians of Brown Mountain with their strong dedication to the temperance cause would probably be surprised at their church being used for cellar door sales.

The old church’s life at Brown Mountain was short lived because in 1929 it was brought down to Lalla. The church had closed some time before this “owing to removals and deaths” in the Brown Mountain community. It is not accurate to say that the church was removed in its entirety as is explained in a report on its reopening at Lalla in June 1930:

“When it was pulled down very little of it was fit for re-erection, so the church at Lalla is practically new, with the exception of the rafters and joists”.

The ‘new church’ had a narrow escape in 1952 when bushfires swept through Lalla. The North East Advertiser tells the story:

“The Presbyterian Church at Lalla, narrowly escaped destruction by a bush fire on Sunday afternoon, and only for the fact that a Harvest Festival Service was being held at the time the church would have been burned. When the service started at 2pm, a fire was burning in scrub on the opposite side of the road, and when the wind changed the fire roared through…the scrub and crossed the road. The service was discontinued for the time being, and men attending the church put out the fire in the dry grass within a few feet [of] the building. Six motor cars which were parked on the side of the road were moved to safety only a few minutes before the fire crossed the road, and later it was found necessary to move the cars a second time”.

Having survived a 'move' down the mountain and a bushfire, the church was unable to withstand its most serious challenge; that of a decline in religious practise and the movement of people from the countryside to towns. It is lucky to have been saved for a new purpose in the Lalla vineyard because it was unlikely to have survived much longer given its rapid deterioration. Perhaps its new owners will might give a nod of acknowledgement to the old Presbyterians of Brown Mountain by producing a “Brewer’s Dog” wine label? 

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photographs from The Examiner showing the recent move of the church to its new site (see link at the bottom of the page)

Photograph: The Examiner 16 January 2018

Photograph: The Examiner 16 January 2018

Photograph: The Examiner 16 January 2018

Photograph: The Examiner 16 January 2018

Photograph: The Examiner 16 January 2018

Photograph: The Examiner 16 January 2018

The church in 1992 showing its state of deterioration:

Source:  QVM 1997:P:3034 (Margaret Tassell)

Daily Telegraph Saturday 16 December 1905 

Mercury  Thursday 12 June 1930 

North-Eastern Advertiser Friday 7 March 1952 
The Examiner 15 January 2018 LINK HERE
The Examiner 16 January 2018 LINK HERE

Drops of Water, Ella Wheeler, The National Temperance Society and Publication House, New York 1872


Popular posts from this blog

Welcome to Churches of Tasmania

No. 624 - Dunalley - St Martin's Anglican Church - "In grateful memory of the men who fought in the Great War"

No. 592 - Gretna - St Mary the Virgin - "Worthy of Imitation"