No. 122 - St Luke's Anglican Church Latrobe - 'Broken Windows and Cold Brick and Mortar'

The first Anglican services in the Latrobe district were held at Ballahoo on the western bank of the Mersey River. Subsequently services were held in a store that stood near the local wharf (near Bells Parade). In 1868 Latrobe School church was opened which was also used for church services for a number of years.

Plans for a new church began in 1892 and almost two decades were to pass before these were realised. The laying of the foundation stone of the new church took place on 29th November 1906. Bishop Mercer conducted the service which was held indoors because of heavy rains. Mercer congratulated the community on the progress they had made with the new church. He reminded the congregation that: 

“A new church building was the visible expression of the religious life of the community. Religion was needed in politics and in trade, in schools and in homes. Without it this universe would be a riddle, man would remain weak and become a pessimist, and there would be no outlook beyond this life”. (Daily Telegraph Saturday 1 December 1906)

At the churches opening in December 1909, Mercer again picked up on this theme:

“The church was meant to make them better in all the affairs of life, to make them purer, and to enable them to lead purer lives. If they did not do this, it was dead, and merely a pile of cold brick and mortar…He appealed to them to make the church in Latrobe a living, spiritual force…Fathers should not merely send their children, but go themselves…” (North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times Friday 10 December 1909)


The event was reported in the North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times. About "300 people assembled" and the building was “packed to the doors”. The church described as “modern decorated Gothic, built of brick, with cement dressing”. The tower on the north-western corner of the building was designed to support a steeple rising to a height of 90ft. This was never completed. Another feature of the church was the large tracery Gothic window on the west front of the building. This window featured in the news again in 1924 but in a very different context:

“On Saturday afternoon it was reported to the police that the large stained glass window at the western end of St Luke’s Church had been badly damaged and broken. Inside the church were a number of stones and a quantity of broken glass. Constable Webberley at once commenced to make inquiry, and eventually discovered the damage done was the work of a couple of small boys, who had been amusing themselves with a tennis racquet and some stones, and had been hitting the latter through the window with the racquet. Between 40 and 50 panes of glass were broken…” (
Advocate Tuesday 2 December 1924)

It is with some irony that a longstanding minister of St Luke’s, William Hogg, had taken a “prominent part in establishing the Latrobe Tennis Club, although he never had the time to take part in the game”. One can only speculate if the boys were amongst those whose fathers had 'merely sent their children to church'.
Apart from the broken windows, St Luke’s has changed little since it opened in 1909. The black and white photograph (below) taken in 1926, two years after the tennis racquet incident, shows a church that has changed little in appearance over the last century.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

The tower sans the planned spire: Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

The West window now in good repair. Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Origin of source cannot be identified at this stage

Sources:

Examiner Friday 4 July 1913
Devon Herald Tuesday 18 January 1887
North West Post Saturday 1 December 1906
Daily Telegraph Saturday 1 December 1906
North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times Friday 10 December 1909
Advocate Tuesday 2 December 1924
Henslowe, Dorothea Our heritage of Anglican churches in Tasmania. Mercury-Walch, Moonah, Tas, 1978.


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