No. 279 - Bridgenorth - The Union and Methodist Church (1904)
Bridgenorth is a small community in the West Tamar region located approximately 18 kilometres north of Launceston. It is centred on the junction of the Bridgenorth and Long Plain Roads. It is believed that the settlement’s name is derived from a town of the same name in Shropshire, England.
In June 1904 a small “Union Church” was built at Bridgenorth for use by all denominations. This became known as the Bridgenorth Chapel. Launceston’s Daily Telegraph reported:
“Some months back the inhabitants of the district decided to have a place of worship built, and a committee was formed consisting of Messrs. Jones, Kidd, Jack, Shaw, Camm, Forbes, and G. A. Jones as secretary, to carry out the work. At the first meeting £20
was subscribed, as well as other donations, for the erection and equipment, with the result that the chapel was opened on Sunday, May 29, free of debt. Services were held in the afternoon and evening. Amongst those taking part in the opening ceremony were
Messrs. West, Coulston, R. E. Smith, Tuffin, Dally, and A. Clerke. Miss Tuffin presided at the organ (a handsome gift from Mr Chas. Button, of Launceston). A Sunday school in connection with the church will be opened on Sunday next".
In 1915 the Methodist community considered building a church in the Bridgenorth district. The Daily Telegraph reported:
“A meeting was held…. to consider the advisability of erecting a Methodist Hall to conduct services and other meetings in. The site to be chosen is on the Long Plains-road. The building will fill a long-felt want, and will also take the place of a public schoolroom, as there are several families residing there that are outside the three miles limit as regards Bridgenorth and East Glengarry schools. Another meeting is to be held to finally settle the site, as three have been offered”.
For reasons not known the Methodists did not proceed with building a church and instead the community elected to use the Union Chapel.
In 1919 the Launceston Examiner reported that a new organ had been acquired for the Bridgenorth chapel:
“A crowded congregation assembled on Sunday last at the Methodist service at Bridgenorth, the occasion being the official opening of a new organ. Rev. G. N. Wheaton, minister in charge of the Tamar district, conducted the service. A very pleasant and profitable Sunday afternoon was thus spent. Miss Ida Atkinson of Rosevears presided at the organ….The organ will prove a great asset to this little church, which is situated in a beautiful valley. The monthly service has become very popular”.
By the late 1920s the chapel was used solely by the Methodists. For this reason the Union Chapel trust officially handed the building and land over to the Methodist Church in 1946. In March 1946 the Examiner reported:
“A well-attended meeting was held at Bridgenorth at the close of the harvest festival services when, at the request of the congregation, Mr. J. A. Jones, of Bridgenorth, handed over to the trustees of the Methodist Church the property known as the Bridgenorth chapel. Forty years ago the church was built by the community and was available to any denomination which cared to use it. For the past 20 years services have been regularly held there under the auspices of the Launceston Methodist Circuit. Mr. J. A. Jones was supported by Messrs. T. S. and A. G. Jones, the latter giving a short history of the church since its erection. Rev. Norman Lade, who presided, expressed the thanks of the Methodist Church to the donor and was supported by Mr. D. Hitchcock, representing the Bridgenorth congregation”.
In the 1950s the chapel was gifted the pulpit from the Methodist church on Craythorne Road (Rosevears) when this building was moved to Youngtown in Launceston. Methodist services continued to be held at Bridgenorth up until the establishment of the Uniting Church in the 1970s. The date of the final service and the church’s closure is not known.
Daily Telegraph, Thursday 9 June 1904, page 4
Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 10 February 1915, page 3
Examiner, Thursday 15 May 1919, page 7
Examiner, Wednesday 26 March 1930, page 5
Examiner, Thursday 14 September 1939, page 4
Examiner, Wednesday 13 March 1946, page 4
Examiner, Saturday 14 August 1954, page 7
Stansall, M. E. J and Methodist Church of Australasia Tasmanian Methodism, 1820-1975 : compiled at the time of last Meeting of Methodism prior to union. Methodist Church of Australasia, Launceston, Tas, 1975.