No. 240 - St Paul's Anglican Church at Derby

In the 1870’s the discovery of large deposits of tin led to the founding of the township of Brother’s Home on the Ringarooma River in North East Tasmania. Renamed Derby in 1885, the town's population reached a peak of around 3000 by the end of the 19th century. In 1876, various mining leases, including the ‘Brothers Mine’, amalgamated as “The Briseis”. The name was adopted from the 1876 Melbourne Cup winner ‘Briseis’ ridden by Peter St Albans, who at the age of 12, was the youngest jockey in the history of the race. The Briseis Tin Mining Company dominated the town until the great flood of 1929 when the Briseis Dam burst, devastating the town and inundating the mine. Neither the town nor the mine fully recovered from this disaster.

The Anglican Church of St Paul’s was the third church to be built at Derby. Unlike the Catholic and Wesleyan churches, records of the establishment of St Paul’s and its early years are sketchy.

The first news of the church may be found in an 1891 report written by the Derby correspondent for the Daily Telegraph:

“The topic for the past week has undoubtedly been the Anglican Church bazaar, which was instituted for the purpose of raising funds to build a church at Derby. The promoters must have been much gratified with its financial results, which amounted to a sum exceeding £90…. An admirable site for the proposed church has been selected on rising ground in the centre of the township, and an area of a quarter-acre has been pegged off and a contract let for its enclosure”.

In 1893 a report in The Tasmanian provides a few more details:

“The new Anglican Church is approaching completion, Mr Willis, from Scottsdale, being contractor”.

There are no surviving reports of the church’s opening service but it is recorded as being consecrated in 1893. In 1907 there are reports of fundraising to purchase a bell for the church. A parish hall was built in 1918 and this was later leased to the Department of Education. The hall was also used for social gatherings and fundraising events.

In 1932, a carved oak altar was dedicated by Bishop Robert Hay. This is now display at the Old Schoolhouse Museum opposite the church and hall. The church remained open for services until the 1990’s when it was sold. The church and hall were restored and are now a bed and breakfast establishment and a home.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018
Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018 - The oak altar now in the School House Museum

A Real Estate Photograph of the St Paul's

St Paul's above the School House in about 1905 before the church hall was built - original source of photo unknown.


The Daily Telegraph, 27 August 1891, page 2
The Tamanian, Saturday 1 April 1893, page 9
The Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 12 April 1893
The Daily Telegraph, Thursday 4 April, 1907

Henslowe, Dorothea I and Hurburgh, Isa Our heritage of Anglican churches in Tasmania. Mercury-Walch, Moonah, Tas, 1978.


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