No. 260 - The Cameron Street Wesleyan Chapel - "The Wickedness of the People of Launceston"

The Cameron Street Wesleyan Chapel, which opened in 1827, has the distinction of being the second church to be built at Launceston following the establishment of St John’s Anglican church in 1825. It only had a short existence as a chapel and it was prematurely closed in 1828. It was demolished in 1898 to make way for the new Holy Trinity Church. At the time of its demolition, the Examiner published a “sketch” on the building’s Wesleyan origins and subsequent history:

“The Wesleyans visited Launceston for the first time in 1822, but were very unfavourably impressed with the place, for the Rev. W. Horton, writing to Sydney for help, remarked, “The wickedness of the people of Launceston exceeds all description.” They did not remain then, but returned in 1826, and built a small chapel and parsonage … and the Rev. J. Hutchinson was placed in charge.

In 1828, however, or two years after, the Wesleyan Mission Society withdrew its aid, and the minister was withdrawn; the buildings were then sold, the Government becoming the, purchasers, and John Pascoe Fawkner, “the father of the colony of Victoria,” … was appointed trustee, and held the proceeds on behalf of those subscribers who contributed to their erection”.


Some of the money held in trust was subsequently donated to fund the construction of Launceston’s first Scottish National Church, in Lower Charles Street, which opened in 1833.

The Wesleyan Chapel and its adjacent parsonage were put to various uses over a period of 70 years. These included a Government infant school and a Sunday school. After it was acquired by the Holy Trinity Church, it was rented as a private school and was also the ‘birthplace’ of Launceston’s Mechanic’s Institute.

With the start of the construction of the new Holy Trinity Church in 1898, the Wesleyan Chapel was demolished. Although the building has been lost, its importance as the second church to be established in Launceston and one of Tasmania’s earliest churches is of great historical significance.


Link to the 1898 "sketch" appearing in the Launceston Examiner: HERE

A detail of the Wesleyan Chapel c.1895 - Source QVMAG Collection (QVM-1991-P-0107) 

The Wesleyan Chapel c.1895 - Source QVMAG Collection (QVM-1991-P-0107) 

An advertisement for first service in chapel -  Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser Friday 23 Feb 1827  Page 1

An advertisement for the first lecture of the Launceston Mechanics Institute which was held in the former chapel

Sources:

Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser, Friday 23 Feb 1827  Page 1
Launceston Examiner, Saturday 16 April 1842  Page 2  (Advertising)
Launceston Examiner, Wednesday 9 February 1898  Page 5 

Dr Eric Ratcliff; From Chapel to Church: Nonconformist Building in Launceston, Launceston Historical Society Papers & Proceedings 2009 

Comments

  1. Thank you for this. Esh Lovell, the first preacher (who went on to become a Superintendent of Cascades Female Factory and afterwards to own Carrington House near Richmond) was my great great grandfather. His children, John Wesley and Ann Elizabeth, were born whilst the family lived in Launceston.

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