No. 276 - The Former Kempton Presbyterian Church - 'A Blue Church at Green Ponds'

The township of Kempton, about 50km north of Hobart, is named in honour of Anthony Fenn Kemp, a pioneering merchant and grazier. Kempton was originally called Green Water Holes, but by the 1820’s it became known as Green Water Ponds, before being shortened to Green Ponds. Apart from the Presbyterian Church, there were three other churches established in the town including the Anglican, Catholic and Congregational churches. The Wesleyans owned land at Green Pond for building a chapel but this never eventuated.

The history of Kempton’s Presbyterian church dates back to about 1869, when a request was made by residents of Green Ponds to hold services in district. The Presbyterian Church appointed a minister to a vacancy in the Bothwell district, who oversaw the work of the church at Kempton. The first minister to accept the position was the Reverend Joseph Black who was appointed in 1874. In 1882 Reverend Henry Hull was appointed and the minister’s headquarters was moved to Kempton. This change provided the stimulus to build a church in the town. Up until this time services had been conducted in the Kempton Lecture Hall.

Progress towards building a church began in 1884 when tenders were advertised for a brick building. As both tenders received were well over the anticipated cost, the congregation opted for a cheaper weatherboard building. The change in design delayed the completion of the building to 1886. Even then, the plans for the church were adjusted to enlarge the building to accomodate the growth in numbers of the congregation.

The opening of the church was published in the Mercury in July 1886 and this report provides considerable detail about the church:

“On Sunday, July 4, the new Presbyterian Church was opened for worship by the Rev. 
Joseph Black, M.A., and Moderator of the Presbyterian Assembly of Tasmania. The church is an ornamental structure, built on a central site, the gift of Air James Haddon, and nearly opposite the municipal buildings. It is built of wood on a dark sandstone foundation, of Gothic design, lined throughout the inside with pine boards unstained and varnished, giving a tight and cheerful appearance. The porch and two front windows are of stained glass, as also the large ornamental window behind the rostrum, the extra cost of which was defrayed by the Rev. J. Grierson Scott. 

The congregation has for some years worshipped in the lecture hall, and efforts have been made from time to time for the erection of a suitable building, the chief difficulty being the want of a central site upon which to build. During the Rev. H. T. Hull's ministry Mr Hadden gave the present site. [The] design was chosen, and part of the money raised by bazaars and collection, but not until the Rev. J. Grierson Scott's ministry was a start made. The original plan, 30ft. by 20ft., was felt to be too small for the increasing congregation, so the building was extended to,40ft. by 25ft, making a handsome and commodious structure. The original contract was, £350, the additions costing £100, making, with fittings and other expenses, the total nearly £500, a good part of which has been already raised; and as a bazaar is in progress it is likely that the remaining debt will be reduced by one-half. 

The completed building reflects the greatest credit on the contractor, Mr W. H, Wise, and his assistants, Mr W. Wise and Geo. Goddard, for the conscientious way in which the whole work has been carried out, and the people are somewhat proud of their new building. The opening services were commenced by singing from the newly introduced hymnal " Church Praise". Appropriate sermons were preached by Rev W. Black to large congregations. At the conclusion of the morning service, Mr Black gave a short sketch of the commencement of Presbyterian services by himself several years ago, and the various changes that had been made in the pastorate during the time, and after wishing the congregation "God speed" in their new building, formally declared it open for Divine worship”.

After the 1950’s the church ceased being used and fell into disrepair. A bequest made by Mr Thomas Gorringe enabled the restoration of the building. The church is now used as a local community hall and has become known as the ‘Blue Place’.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

The Mercury, Friday 2 July 1886, page 3

The Kempton church - date c.1900 -  LINC Tasmania:


Launceston Examiner Tuesday 15 July 1856, page 3
Tasmanian News, Wednesday 16 April 1884, page 2
Tasmanian News, Tuesday 6 July 1886, page 3
The Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 17 February 1886, page 3
The Mercury, Friday 2 July 1886, page 3
The Mercury, Thursday 8 July 1886, page 3
The Mercury, Saturday 11 July 1936, page 16

Signage at the site of the church


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