No. 210 - The former Fenton Street Gospel Hall at Devonport

Viewed from the street front, the former gospel hall at Fenton Street is barely recognisable as a church. But from the rear of the building it is obvious that it has changed little since it was built by the Christian Brethren at the start of the last century.

The Christian Brethren originated in Ireland and England in the 1820s. By the 1850s the movement had spread to Australia, with revival meetings in Tasmania taking place from 1869. Fellowships were formed in Hobart and Launceston and were particularly strong across the north of the State. Meetings were usually held in 'gospel halls', many of which were built in the northwest.

The Gospel Hall as Devonport was opened in December 1903 and a rather cryptic report of this occasion was published in the North Western Advocate and Emu Bay Times:

“The opening took place yesterday of the new Gospel Hall erected in Fenton street by the Christian Brethren. The building measures 35ft x 25ft, with plastered walls and dado, and is very comfortably fitted with seating accommodation for about 140. It is lit by electricity. A baptistery is fitted under the platform. The usual fellowship meeting was held in the morning, and a Bible reading in the afternoon… The fellowship of the brethren numbers about 20. There was a good attendance at the services. One of the principles of the body are that no collections are taken at the services, the system of voluntary giving having been adopted”.

The Gospel Hall was used by the Brethren until 1954 when the building was sold to the Devonport Country Women’s Association for use as a meeting place. Later it was used as a Girl Guide hall. In 1955 The Christian Brethren opened a new gospel hall in Oldaker Street where it still operates as the Oldaker Christian Church.

The old church building now houses “Hope at St Paul’s Kitchen” which provides free meals for people suffering from addictions, homelessness or simply struggling to make ends meet.


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 North Western Advocate and Emu Bay Times, Monday 21 December 1903, page 2
The Advocate, Saturday 19 June 1954, page 6

http://www.utas.edu.au/library/companion_to_tasmanian_history/C/Christian%20Brethren.htm

https://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/5299938/place-where-hope-resides/



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