No. 329 - The Caveside Uniting [Methodist] Church - 'Under the Shade of Friendly Gum Trees'

When a Wesleyan Methodist church was established at Caveside in 1875, the area was known as Brookside. In 1887 the name Brookside gave way to Caveside following the establishment of a post office at the settlement and also because of the earlier discovery of wet caves in the vicinity.

The small church was used as a local school room as well as for Wesleyan Sunday school classes. In 1890 the Caveside correspondent for The Tasmanian and Launceston Examiner described the annual Sunday school anniversary celebration. The report reveals the strength of the Methodists in the area and also the pressing need for a larger church to accommodate the faithful:

“Our usually quiet and secluded retreat has been galvanised into a state of activity during the past few days, the occasion being the celebration of the anniversary of the Wesleyan Sunday School. On Sunday last the Rev. J. T. Piercey, of Longford, preached to crowded congregations. In the morning the attendance was so great that the service had to be held outside the church, under the shade of some friendly gum trees. Fully 300 persons were present and listened with rapt attention to the rev. gentleman, who spoke with great freedom and force…”

The little church was eventually renovated and enlarged. In May 1898 the correspondent for the Launceston Examiner described a foundation stone-laying ceremony for the new building:

“Rain and sleet fell at intervals, and the wind blew almost a gale. Still, as the day advanced, people began to assemble from all parts. A splendid repast was done ample justice towards evening, after which the Rev. W. Becket announced the business for which they had met, and, after a few well-chosen remarks, called upon Mrs Alexander Oliver to lay the stone. That lady came forward and performed the ceremony, and declared the stone duly laid. In the evening all repaired to the church for a sacred concert, presided over by the Rev. Beckett. The manner in which the building was packed testified clearly the need for enlargement. Although snow fell fast, and it was intensely cold outside, a most enjoyable time was experienced inside”

The enlarged church served the Caveside Methodists for 70 years until a modern brick church replaced it in 1968. After the formation of the Uniting Church in 1977, the Caveside congregation slowly declined and the church was closed and the property sold and converted into a house.

The old church at Caveside before it was demolished. Photo courtesy of Liz O' Connor

The new church built in 1968. Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

The community hall alongside the church. Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018


The Cornwall Advertiser, Friday 20 November 1874, page 2
The Mercury, Tuesday 16 November 1875, page 2 
 Daily Telegraph, Tuesday 18 October 1887,  page 2 
The Tasmanian, Saturday 11 January 1890,  page 22
Launceston Examiner, Monday 30 May 1898, page 6
Examiner, Wednesday 26 May 1926, 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.


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