No. 158 - Former All Saints of Riana - "A Large Shoebox Without a Lid"

All Saint’s Anglican Church is no longer at Riana but has a new home at 'Camp Clayton' outside Ulverstone. However, this church is not the original building established at Riana, as this burnt down in 1929 and was replaced in 1931. It this 'new' building that is now sited near Ulverstone. 

Bishop Hay dedicated the original All Saints in December 1920. A report on the dedication service from the Advocate, stated that the church was “built some years ago”. I have yet to establish an exact date for this but it was probably around 1910 at which time it was also in use as a school.

The dedication ceremony was described in the Advocate in some detail:

“The church was prettily decorated, and although built a number of years ago had not been dedicated. A picket fence was erected a few days ago by a working bee and the building newly painted…. Outside the west door a petition was signed by the rector and churchwardens was delivered to the Bishop… Then the Bishop and the rector passed towards the holy table… [and] then proceeded with the ceremony of dedication; the font; the chancel step, the chancel, the lectern, and the holy table being visited in turn, each receiving a special blessing of dedication…”.

Within a decade of its dedication, the church was destroyed in a fire. The building burnt down in November 1929 after a ‘Church of England ball’ at the nearby hall. A report in the Examiner indicated that the fire might not have been entirely accidental:

“The local police, who seemed satisfied that the occurrence was accidental, and still appear to think so. Some Riana residents seen on Tuesday, are however of the opposite opinion. They assert that a forcible entry was made by persons, and although the actual fire may have been an accident, or due to carelessness by these drunken men, they were responsible for the fire. Mr E. Short, one of the officials of the Riana church, laid his case before the inspector at Burnie yesterday, demanding a further and fuller enquiry by the police”.

The outcome of the enquiry is not known however the Riana community rallied and it was not long before a new and slightly larger church was built. Bishop Hay dedicated the building on 18 November 1931. The church was designed for use as both a hall and a church. Bishop Hay remarked that he:

“...would have preferred the building to have been a church only, especially as there was a public hall nearby, but it was often found necessary in country centres to provide a structure which would serve the needs of a hall as well as a church”.

A report in the Advocate described the new building:

“The plans provided for a church hall on the foundations of the old church, with a sanctuary which can be completely shut off from the rest of the hall by folding doors when the place is not in use as a house of worship. The main hall measures 30 feet by 18 feet, with a sanctuary annexe measuring 8 feet by 9 feet, and a vestry supper-room of suitable dimensions at the side of the hall… A special feature is the lighting, the windows being of ample dimensions, affording a good light even on dull days while the windows in the sanctuary have been arranged to avoid any glare, and to give the fullest possible light”.

A challenge of all churches at the time was retaining their congregations. Bishop Hay spoke about this at the dedication ceremony when he posed the question: “Why don’t people go to church?” While his reasoning was compelling, ultimately it was not enough to keep the church open for more than a generation or two. 

However, All Saints found a new purpose in the 1990’s when it was relocated to the Christian Youth Centre, 'Camp Clayton', outside Ulverstone. In ‘Mission, Muscle and Miracle’, the removal of the church is described in some detail:

“The building was to be moved in three sections. The roof had to be removed because of height limits on the South Road overpass on the Bass Highway. Some overhead power lines had to be lifted manually to enable the load to pass along the South Riana Road… The porch and nave were removed first and transported separately…the roof was disconnected from the walls and divided into two halves along the length of the building… On moving day, a very large crane, a long semi-trailer, a low-loader trailer and a heavy prime mover arrived and lifted the roof into two sections onto the semi, and then lifted the remainder of the structure in one piece – somewhat resembling a large shoebox without a lid – while the low-loader backed in underneath”.

The removal of the church from its foundation revealed a surprise. Under the floor of the church the molten remains of a heavy bell was discovered, a relic of the blaze that destroyed the original church in 1929. According to ‘Mission, Muscle and Miracle’, this is still stored somewhere at the Camp.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

The Bush Chapel at Camp Clayton - Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018


The Advocate Monday 13 December 1920, page 1
The Mercury Tuesday 26 November 1929, page 7
The Examiner Wednesday 27 November 1929, page 7
The Advocate Saturday 14 March 1931, page 6
The Advocate  Saturday 14 November 1931, page 2
The Mercury Thursday 19 November 1931, page 7
The Advocate Thursday 19 November 1931, page 6

Ashton, W.E. and Camp Clayton (Ulverston, Tas.).  Mission, Muscle & Miracle : a history, impressions & personal episodes during the last 50 years of CYC at Camp Clayton / by W.E. Ashton  Circular Head Chronicle Smithton, Tas  2000


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