No. 203 - The Former Ringarooma Methodist Church - "A Victorian Visitor"

Ringarooma is a small rural town in northeast Tasmania. It was once known as Krushka, after Christopher Krushka, a German migrant and local landowner who, with his brother Charles, had prospered from tin mining in the nearby Derby district.

The Wesleyan-Methodists along with the Anglicans initially used the non-denominational Union Church at Ringarooma for their religious services. However, it seems that that the Anglican’s had difficulty in procuring a minister for regular services. In 1882, a correspondent to The Tasmanian complained:

“I repeat that had it not been for the Wesleyans, God’s word would not have been heard here until now. It is only two years since I was told there was no Sunday this side of the Billycock” [Hill].

In 1881 the Methodists were negotiating with the trustees of the Union Church for its purchase. The cost of the upkeep of the building and paying down its debt had become a burden and the trustees:

“Proposed selling the property to the Wesleyan denomination. The Rev. Mr Flockart stated he believed, at the conference to be held next September, that he would be empowered to buy the property on behalf of the Wesleyan denomination…”.


Negotiations for its purchase were evidently not successful for in February 1882 a correspondent for The Tasmanian wrote:

“ I hear the Wesleyans contemplate building a chapel for themselves shortly. I regret this, as I think it would have been better had they continued to conduct service in the Union Church, at any rate until the debt of the building is paid off, which by the present system of letting the sittings is being achieved quickly. I wish Sectarianism could be as readily done away with”.


By mid 1882 the construction of a Wesleyan Methodist church was well underway and a report in The Examiner in August 1882 noted that:

“Mr. Peppiatt is making good progress with the erection of the Wesleyan Chapel, considering the weather and difficulty of getting timber”.

There are no surviving reports about the completion and opening of the church but in March 1884 a visitor to Ringarooma observed that:

There is an Anglican Church, and also one belonging to the Wesleyan denomination. The latter, which has been built about six or eight months, is a very neat looking edifice…”

The Wesleyans church therefore opened around mid 1883 which is about the same time that the Anglicans purchased the Union Church which the Wesleyans had once considered purchasing.

The next interesting reference to the Ringarooma church comes from a substantial report written by a ‘Victorian Visitor’ and published in the Examiner in 1886. Most of this has been reproduced here, not only because of its reference to an interesting evangelical service at the church but also for its observations about the journey from Launceston to Ringarooma:

“To a Victorian a trip to Tasmania is one of the moat delightful trips he can possibly avail himself of this side of dear old England. To me it seems an earthly paradise. Hobart, with its lovely surroundings, quite enraptured me; nor could I conceive anything in nature to surpass its beauties. But this trip to Scottsdale and Ringarooma eclipses all I have ever seen in the colonies. Loone's coach, horses, and driver, constitute a most creditable turnout. A comfortable coach, good teams, and careful driving, are all that is necessary to make passengers satisfied and agreeable, throughout the journey.

The drive for the first few miles is hilly, and slow in consequence, but the fine mansions of the well-to-do Launceston tradespeople command your attention, and the mountainous scenery fills in the pleasures of the drive. The half-way house (Millwood's) [Hotel] provides for the cravings of the inner man, and, commencing a few miles therefrom, the grandeur of scenery in hills and dales, mountain slopes, trees and foliage, is truly superb…. To all unbelievers of an Almighty power…I commend a drive to Scottsdale. The township is pretty in itself, its surroundings, oh, how truly beautiful. There are hotels and temperance places of accommodation…. 

The drive to Ringarooma from Scottsdale has its drawbacks in wet weather in rough roads in some portions of the journey. But the scenery, even then, compensates for the inconvenience of a rough road. I spent a Sunday there, and with the wife of my friend attended service in the Wesleyan chapel to hear a portion, of what is termed the "Evangelistic Band" - five in number - who came out from Scottsdale to, as they said, “aid the cause of Christianity.” They were unassuming in character, young in age, and youthful in experience, mediocre as regards their standard in ability, and education. The leader was of superior stamp in every respect. He was most anxious to explain away a misconception, that had become public, viz., that they were supposed to be performers of musical instruments; through the term "band" as attached to their Christian denomination or calling. As band playing is associated with the [Salvation] “army," is not in high favour with the better class of church going residents in country, or town districts, this might, or might not be, a reason deemed necessary for explanation. Be that as it may, the leader of the "band” was earnest, and I am sure sincere in all he said on behalf of his Master. His prayers were composed of language plain and to the point and purport of his Christian feelings and wishes. His pleadings for unconverted man were the outpourings of a truly heartfelt desire on the behalf of Christianity, and his address to the audience was of a humble character, but earnest and sincere. The whole "band" portrayed a cast of countenance, a seriousness of expression, both in looks and language, which convoyed the idea that these men were sincere in their worshipping of God, and in admonishing their fellow man to become, in like manner godly in their character, and in their everyday walk through life…. More power, then, to such faithful servants of God….

Mr. Krushka is the leading spirit in everything in Ringarooma that pertains to the advancement of the district. Band of Hope entertainments, lectures, etc., find, a munificent subscriber and patron in him and the only pleasure I missed was in Mr. K. being absent - through misapprehension…”.

There is very little written about the Ringarooma church over the next century, but the following three reports on different events at the church are reproduced below; each gives a glimpse into the life and times of the Ringarooma Methodists.

A Temperance Meeting – 70 Bits of Blue (October 1884)

“Mr. Matthew Burnett, the great temperance advocate and social reformer, arrived here by way of Moorina on Friday evening last, and held a meeting in the Wesleyan Chapel, when 26 signed the pledge and donned 'the bit of blue.'…. On Sunday, morning a start was made for Alberton, where a very successful meeting was held in the Wesleyan Chapel, when 23 more took the pledge. At 2:30 another service was held at Ringarooma, after which Mr. Burnett proceeded to Scottsdale, where he intends holding a few days mission. Altogether seventy persons joined the temperance cause at Ringarooma”.

A Lecture on Luther (July 1887)


“Last evening those whom the inclemency of the weather did not prevent going out were entertained, in the neat little Wesleyan Chapel, with a most interesting lecture by the Rev. F. Neale, of Horton College, on "The Hero of the Reformation, Martin Luther.'' The lecturer dealt with the subject in an elegant and masterly style, speaking without effort and in the choicest English for an hour and a half. At the conclusion of the lecture a vote of thanks was neatly tendered by Mr Christopher Krushka, and seconded by Mr G. Clarke, and carried in the warmest manner by the audience. Our much respected minister, the Rev. Chas. Tregear, presided, and before the lecture sang in his tasteful way 'The Christian Martyr.' A good collection in aid of the chapel fund was taken up, and the evening's entertainment terminated in a most satisfactory manner”.

A Memoriam Service (September 1916)

"On Sunday morning, at the Methodist Church, Ringarooma, a memoriam service for the late Alan Robert Andrews was held. The pulpit was draped in purple and white, and a photo of Private Andrews, surrounded by the Union Jack, with a scroll bearing the words 'The flag he fought for," and tributes of flowers from sorrowing friends, made a touching display. Prior to the service the Ringarooma Band preceded by the flag, and followed by representatives of the Rifle Club, of which Private Andrews was a member, and the Druids in full regalia, led by Grand Master W. J. Conder and President T.  Brewer, marched in parade to the church. 

The Rev. J. Dixon, military chaplain, conducted the service, and, in sympathetic terms, referred to the soldier lad who had made the supreme sacrifice. He mentioned that he had been informed that the fighting instinct was in Private Andrews, as he was a descendant of the Rev. George Walker, the historic defendant of Londonderry; also that on the fields of France, a cousin gained the V.C., and fell with the Connaught Rangers at Mons. He also referred to the fact, that the sorrowing parents had but recently received word that their other son, Private Roy Andrews, was severely wounded. The Rev. Dixon, in his address, paid eloquent tribute to the memory of all the heroes who had given their lives so willingly for the Empire, and all those brave lads who were fighting so heroically in far off France, and those also who dared so much on shell-swept Gallipoli. His words of comfort and hope to the bereaved parents and family touched many hearts, and brought the tears to many eyes. The church was filled with relatives and sympathising friends who had known and loved the brave soldier lad from childhood. After the service the band, led by Bandmaster W. Andrews, played the 'Dead March,' and Mr Davenport (Branxholm) sounded the "Last Post," a fitting and pathetic close to the service”.

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:

The Weekly Examiner, Saturday 8 June 1878, page 20
The Examiner, Friday 8 July 1881, page 3
The Tasmanian, Saturday 4 February 1882
The Tasmanian, Saturday 27 May 1882
The Examiner, Thursday 10 August 1882, page 4
The Examiner, Saturday 4 November 1882, page 1
The Tasmanian, Saturday 1 March 1884
The Tasmanian, Saturday 18 October 1884
The Examiner, Saturday 18 September 1886, page 3
The Daily Telegraph, Saturday 2 July 1887 page 3
The Daily Telegraph, Saturday 30 September 1916, page 11


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