No. 284 - The Former Margaret Street Wesleyan-Methodist Church

The first reference to the establishment of a Methodist church in Margaret Street in Launceston was noted in the minutes of the quarterly meeting of the Launceston Circuit in May 1836 in which it was “deemed desirable to have a place in which to hold religious services in the south end of town”. The minutes also record that:

“Mr Sherwin having offered to the connexion a plot of land on which to build a chapel, it is resolved that Mr Sherwin’s offer be greatly accepted and that the property be settled on the conference plan without delay”. (1)

There is no record or report of the church’s opening but the Margaret Street chapel appears on the Methodist Circuit plan for January 1837 and in the same year it was decided that “preaching be held at Margaret Street every Sunday afternoon”. The building was of wood and cost £250.

In 1858 the timber church was replaced by the Sunday school building which now stands on the site. The building was designed for use as both a church and a Sunday school. Details of the church’s opening were published in the Cornwall Chronicle:

“A very commodious, and elegantly fitted up Chapel, situated at the corner of Margaret and Balfour-streets, was formally opened on Sunday last,— the Rev. W. D. Lelean, of Hobart Town, officiating on the occasion. The chapel is another which has been erected for the Launceston Wesleyan Methodist Society, at a cost of about £1000. The work was tendered for by Messrs Lloyd, Belts, and Douslin, for £950 but the cost of fencing and other items added to that amount and when the building was completed, the fund was deficient of upwards of £300 of the full amount required to defray the expenses. A tea meeting was held on Monday evening in the Patterson-street, Wesleyan School Room; as usual, on such occasions, there was a very large attendance, and amongst others present were His Worship the Mayor, Messrs J. W. Gleadow. John Crookes M.H.A., I. Sherwin, W. J. Norwood. The meeting was addressed by those and other gentlemen, and the result of the proceedings, was that Mr Gleadow had the pleasure of announcing that the liberality of the meeting had placed the New Chapel free of debt; the deficient £300 having been all subscribed in a very brief space of time…”

In 1874 the church was enlarged and classrooms were constructed at the rear. Attendance at the Sunday school grew rapidly necessitating plans for a separate building for a new Sunday school. The foundation stone for the new building fronting on Balfour Street was laid in January 1889.

In 1917 the church on Margaret street was moved to the Sunday School building on Balfour Street which was enlarged and extensively renovated. Consequently, the Margaret Street Church was then exclusively used as a Sunday school and later became a hall for the Uniting Church.

In 2017 the Uniting Church sold both the Balfour Street church and the Margaret Sunday school. The buildings are currently in the process of being redeveloped for commercial activity. 

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018


Sources:

Launceston Examiner, Saturday 9 Oct 1858,  Page 3
The Cornwall Chronicle, Wednesday 3 Nov 1858, Page 5 
Launceston Examiner, Tuesday 24 Mar 1874  Page 3 
The Examiner, Wednesday 3 August 1938, page 5
 
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.

Footnote:

(1) As quoted in The Examiner, Wednesday 3 August 1938, page 5

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