No. 147 - St Alban's at Pipers River - "A Red Letter Day"

St Alban’s at Pipers River has not left a substantial record of its activities in the press. Its foundation stone was laid in 1909 but the building was only completed in 1912 and dedicated just over a decade later in 1923. This period coincides with the final decline of the nearby town of Lefroy, a gold rush settlement that had a population of 5000 at its peak and was once the fourth largest town in Tasmania.

An Anglican community had been present at Pipers River for some time prior to the establishment of St Alban’s and this is evident by the adjacent cemetery that has headstones dating back to the early 1880’s. Worship took place at nearby Alford Hall, which was built in the late 19th century.

In November 1909, the laying of the foundation stone of the new church was reported in the Examiner:

“…A large number assembled from surrounding districts to witness the ceremony. Archdeacon Beresford officiated, and was assisted by the Rev. Roche (rector of Beaconsfield), Rev. Lumsden (rector of Lilydale), and the Rev. Brammall”.

There is no newspaper record of the opening of the church apart from an oblique reference in a 1912 newspaper report about the Lefroy Anglican Church, and of Archdeacon Beresford being “present in the district for the purposes of opening the new church at Piper's River”.

However the dedication of St Alban’s in 1923 was reported in the Daily Telegraph and the Examiner as a “red letter day in church matters” with the visit of Bishop Hay to the Pipers River district to undertake the dedication service.

There is not much else of significance recorded about the church in the newspapers of this period. During the Great War, the small Pipers River community suffered the loss of several of its sons and memorial services at the church are recorded. The Venn family lost two of its sons and had another two sons serving. The headstone of another casualty, Walter Baxter, is prominent in the cemetery. He is reported as the "first to go from Piper's River, and the first to fall". It is in this context that we can understand reports such at that of Canon Kelly who “preached a striking sermon on the barbarism and cruelty of the Germans” at a ‘patriotic service’ held at St Alban’s in August 1918. War took an especially cruel toll on these small communities.

St Alban’s is an example of a small rural church that has survived closure due to support from a closely-knit community and because of its strong historical connections with Pipers River area. Hopefully this will be enough to save it from the next round of closures that are currently being mooted by the Anglican hierarchy.




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


 North-Eastern Advertiser  Friday 17 December 1937  Page 3

St Alban's Cemetery








LINK - Click here for further information

LINK - Click here for further information




Sources:

Examiner Thursday 4 November 1909, page 6
Examiner Friday 3 May 1912, page 3
Examiner Friday 16 August 1918, page 3
Daily Telegraph Thursday 12 September 1918, page 3
Daily Telegraph Tuesday 18 September 1923, page 8
Examiner Monday 17 September 1923, page 6
 North-Eastern Advertiser Friday 17 December 1937  Page 3

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