No. 141 - Our Lady of the Assumption at Trevallyn - 'Pagan Influences'

In the 1950’s and early 60’s Tasmania saw an increase in the number of new churches built; perhaps a consequence of post-war optimism. However, this 'boom' was not to last, and as the baby boomers grew up, they drifted away from established religion and subsequent generations found ‘freedom’ and fulfilment in the brave new world. The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption was born in these contradictory times of abundance in the shadow of the Cold War.

The opening of a new church at Trevallyn on August 15, 1950, on the feast day of the Assumption of Mary, pre-empted Pope Pius XII’s declaration in November of that year of the Assumption of Mary as Catholic dogma.

The Trevallyn church’s opening ceremony was reported in The Examiner under the headline; “Archbishop warns of Pagan influences”. Archbishop Tweedy said:

"There are forces at work in Australia today which, if they were successful, would sound the death knell of liberty in this country. People in other lands know, only too well, the penalty for being careless with freedom. It behoves all Christian Australians to view the trend of world events with the utmost solemnity, lest they too be overwhelmed," he added. The Archbishop said "it was pleasing to note that in Launceston at least, religious progress was keeping pace with commercial progress." 

In ‘Launceston’s Catholic Story’, Father Terry Southerwood notes that the church was built “on a block of land sold to the Catholic Church by a reputed Communist”. I wonder if Archbishop Tweedy knew this as he railed against the twin spectres of communism and materialism?

The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption only had a life of 20 short years. This probably had little to do with declining faith but had more to do with its unsuitable location and with the Franciscans taking charge of Trevallyn-Riverside as a new parish in the 1950's. The establishment of a Mass centre at Cormiston in 1954 followed by a Catholic Primary school at the same site in 1962, resulted in the parish’s centre of gravity shifting to Riverside. The establishment of a Franciscan friary and hall at Pomona Road in that year was probably the beginning of the end for the Trevallyn church that finally closed after its last Mass on November 29, 1970, a mere twenty years after it opened.

Our Lady of the Assumption is now barely recognisable as a church as it has been converted into two dwellings. The features of a church can still be made out but its original shape can be more clearly seen from the footprint of the church in the satellite photograph.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

The former church has been converted into two dwellings.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

The shape of the former church can be seen in the satellite photograph.

[Thanks to Paul for alerting me to this one!]


W.T. Southerwood; Launceston's Catholic Story (1838-2001); Privately printed booklet, 2001

The Examiner Monday 24 September 1951, page 3

Interview with B. Symons 8 January 2018


  1. We moved to Trevallyn in 1972, not far away. The parking would have been terrible in that spot. Early 70’s the place as converted by Roger Smith (Pennyroyal fame)

  2. Thank you Fran. I didn't know that and have made a note of that. There was a friary on the opposite side of the road which might be why the site was chosen? But terrible for parking!


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