No. 146 - The Baptist Church at Spreyton - '16 000 Bricks and 2 Foundation Stones'

The first thing I look for when photographing a church is something to date it by such as a foundation stone.  I had no problem locating one on this building but I noticed a second stone hidden behind a wheelie bin. Both had the same date; 4 August 1909.  Sometimes two stones may found on a building when a new church is built on top of an older building but rarely two stones with the same date.

Although built in 1909, Baptists had been active in Spreyton for 20 years prior to the church's opening. Worship took place in room in a small building that also served as the local school. This had become unsuitable as membership of the church grew and a decision was made to build a church that would serve as a Sunday school as well as a day school for Spreyton.

The church was built entirely out of donated material. Mr J.B. Graves of the Spreyton brickworks agreed to donate 16 000 bricks on condition that the church was established debt free. This offer resulted in a massive fundraising drive to ensure that this would happen. The 16 000 bricks were donated and it was because of this act of generosity that Mr Graves was invited to lay the second foundation stone.

The foundation stone laying ceremony was reported in the North West Post:

“Yesterday was a red-letter day in the history of the Spreyton district, as it witnessed the laying of the foundation stone of a building for the Baptist denomination, which will be used for both church and school purposes… The church is being erected in close proximity to the Spreyton station, and when completed it will comfortably accommodate 150 persons. The proceedings were opened with the well known hymn, “The Church’s One Foundation”, after which the “Bishop of Spreyton” (Mr A. J. Stokes) read a portion of scripture and led in prayer”.

Alfred Stokes was no doubt a mover and shaker in the Spreyton and Devonport region. He was also a correspondent for the 'Post'  explaining the friendly jibe of “Bishop of Spreyton” from the reporter.

The construction of the Church was completed in less than three months and the opening ceremony was also reported in the North West Post. In this report the description of the building is almost identical to the building seen today although its surroundings have changed almost beyond recognition:

“It is of Gothic architecture, and has six side lead-lights… One lead-light in the porch is of a pretty design and is adorned with the letters “I.H.S.” [Iesus Hominum Salvator, Jesus, Savior of Men]…The front gables of the church and porch are finished in rough cast cement, and the words “Baptist Church” stand out in blocked cement letters… The outbuildings are to include a stable…the front picket-fencing is decidedly unique, as the posts are not set into the ground, but are cemented into nicely polished and well-shaped pottery feet…made at the Spreyton Pottery”.

There is no longer a picket fence but a gravel car park at the front of the church and it is now a scout hall. When I stopped to photograph it I was lucky enough to meet a scoutmaster who kindly invited me in to have a look inside. It appears little changed inside and it is clear that the scouts take great pride in their building. Above all, it is good to see that it is still being used to serve the Spreyton community.




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

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Sources:

North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times Tuesday 9 March 1909, page 4
North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times Thursday 5 August 1909, page 4
North West Post Thursday 5 August 1909, page 3
North West Post Thursday 23 September 1909, page 3

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

No. 990 - Hobart - St Mary's Cathedral (Part 1) - "The Wild Vines of Tasmania"

No. 988 - North Hobart - The "King Street" Church and School

No. 1058 - Strahan - St Finn Barr's Catholic Church (1900-2005)