No. 266 - St Columba's at Mole Creek - 'A Very Bad Site'

Mole Creek is a small town that lies about 25km west of Deloraine in Northern Tasmania. A.L. Meston in "The Van Diemen's Land Company 1825-1842" states that one of the Company's surveyors, Joseph Fossey, during an expedition from Launceston to Surrey Hills in April 1827, named a small tributary of the Mersey the Mole River, because, like the river of that name in Surrey (England), it runs underground for part of its course. (1)

The earliest Anglican services at Mole Creek were held in the Wesleyan chapel (built 1878). By the start of the 20th century momentum for the establishment of a ‘Church of England’ gathered pace. In May 1900 a meeting was held with the purpose of building a church and a hall at the town:

“A meeting in connection with the Anglican Church was held on Thursday evening at Mr Whitely’s residence to consider the advisability of erecting a church at Mole Creek, … Those who attended (Rev. Lingley in the chair) went into the matter heartily and settled preliminary arrangements, and deferred others of greater importance till the next meeting. Promises of support in the form of donations of timber and in cash were made, so that it is reasonable to expect to see the building at no very distant period in course of erection on land presented by Mr John How”.

The meeting coincided with a time of great excitement at Mole Creek with reports of the relief of Mafeking reaching the town. This news:

“Was met with by almost everyone after receipt of the news here, and, although no great outburst of feeling was displayed beyond a few hearty cheers and the burning of Kruger’s effigy, yet nearly every family was represented, and in many cases whole families were in the enthusiastic crowd that went by special train to Deloraine to be present at the demonstration there”.

By June 1901 significant progress with the church and hall had been made. The correspondent for the Hobart Mercury observed:

"The pretty little settlement of Mole Creek is jogging along as usual, the erection of the Anglican Church is nearing completion, and a pretty building it is, though on a very bad site, being side on to the road, and on the low side too”.

By July the ‘Anglican club room’ (hall) had been completed for use as a Sunday school and for concerts. By September the church was ready and the opening service was reported in the Launceston Examiner:

“The Right Rev. the Bishop of the diocese, accompanied by the Right Rev. the Bishop of Carpentaria*, attended to dedicate the Church of St. Columba, Mole Creek, on Wednesday last. At a very solemn service in the morning, the “holy rite of laying on of hands” was administered to 20 candidates, the average age being over 30 years. The chief opening service was fixed for the afternoon, for which a special train left Deloraine at 1.30. Despite the inclemency of the weather 153 travelled by it. A few minutes after 3 o’clock the Bishops, clergy, and wardens representing churches in the various centres proceeded from the robing-room to the church. The service consisted of a shortened form of evensong, followed by the service of dedication. The Bishop of Tasmania preached a very forcible sermon, …. At 4.30 the company assembled in the men’s club-room. Mr J. Lloyd and Mr. J. Whitley offered words of welcome to the Bishop of Tasmania on behalf of the people of Mole Creek…. Mr A. Horne (of Dunorlan) offered a like welcome to the Bishop of Carpentaria on behalf of the church people of the whole district…. After the episcopal guests had replied, the club-room was declared open in the interests of the Mole Creek community”.

After a lifespan of close to 100 years, St Columba’s was closed and sold and developed into a house. However it is no longer to be found at the ‘very bad site’ (where the Mole Creek Fire Station is situated) and has been moved to higher ground in nearby McNeill Street.


* The Reverend Dr Gilbert White; The Bishop of Carpentaria's visit to Tasmania -  HERE

St Columba's and the Anglican Club Hall - undated - original source not known. (sourced from FaceBook)
The church in 2018 - Photograph: Duncan Grant


The church in 2018 - Photograph: Duncan Grant
Sources:

(1) Museum Committee, Launceston City Council. [1958].. (First published as Records of the Queen Victoria Museum, New Series, no 9.) Arranged for publication by W.M. Meston.

The Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 23 May 1900, page 6
The Mercury, Wednesday 12 June 1901, page 5
The Examiner, Saturday 7 September 1901, page 9
The Daily Telegraph, Tuesday 22 May, page 4
The North Western Advocate and Emu Bay Times, Wednesday 24 July, 1901, page 2.
The North Western Advocate and Emu Bay Times, Friday 20 September 1901, page 2

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



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