No. 186 - The Methodist Church at Derby

In the 1870’s the discovery of large deposits of tin along the Ringarooma River in North East Tasmania brought into being the township of Brother’s Home, named after the Krushka brothers who founded the first mine. Renamed Derby in 1885, its population reached a peak of around 3000 by the end of the 19th century. In 1876, various mining leases, including the Brothers Mine amalgamated and became know as “The Briseis”. This name was derived from the 1876 Melbourne Cup winner ‘Briseis’ ridden by Peter St Albans, who at the age of 12, is the youngest jockey in the history of the race. The Briseis Tin Mining Company, formed in 1883, dominated the town until the great flood of 1929. The bursting of the Briseis Dam devastated the town and inundated the mine, killing 14 people. Neither the town or the mine fully recovered from this disaster.

The Wesleyans made an early appearance at the tin fields but a church was not built until 1887. Before this a gymnasium built by the miners was used as a place of worship. A building committee was established in March 1887 under the leadership of Reverend Ebenezer Taylor of Scottsdale. Land was purchased by Taylor for the sum of £5 with a caveat to the sale allowing the right to mine 50 feet below the surface. Although it was the intention of the committee to build a Wesleyan church, it was agreed that other denominations would be free to use it.

The foundation stone of the church was laid in May 1887 and it opened on the 25th June.  The Reverend Francis Neale, from Horton College preached at the morning and afternoon opening services.

The church has long been closed and although it is not in a good state of repair, it will soon be renovated and converted for accommodation as part of Derby’s second boom based on adventure tourism with world-class mountain biking tracks established around the town.


Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018
Sources:

The Examiner, 19 May 1887, page 3
Daily Telegraph 2 July 1887, page 3
North-Eastern Advertiser, Tuesday 25 Sept 1928, page 2
North-Eastern Advertiser, Tuesday 5 October 1937, page 2
North-Eastern Advertiser, Tuesday 12 October 1937, page 3
Examiner, Monday 11 October 1937, page 5
North-Eastern Advertiser, Friday 17 October 1947, page 2

A. W.Loone, Tasmania's North East, A Comprehensive History No.38. Published in The Examiner Saturday 21 April 1928.

https://bencemulcahy.com.au/church-conversion-derby-north-east-tasmania/

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