No. 337 - Highclere Methodist Church - 'From Dundas to Oonah'

Highclere is a small settlement about 18km south of Burnie in Tasmania’s North West. The settlement grew around a siding built in 1903 by the Emu Bay Railway. It was initially called Oonah Road Siding before it was changed to Highclere in 1922.

In 1911 the North West Post described progress in the area:

“…[At] Oonah, .. quite a village is springing up. Several houses have been erected, the place has its State school and public telephone, and it is said the Methodist body contemplate erecting a wooden church. The V.D.L. Co. are the owners of all the land hereabouts, and if they were to dispose of some of their blocks it would give a great impetus to the settlement”.

By 1916 a Methodist Sunday school was operating at Oonah Road and afternoon church services were held. In October 1918 the Methodists purchased “an allotment of land” to build a church. In July 1919 the Examiner reported that “arrangements had been completed for the purchase of a Methodist church at Dundas, to be erected at Oonah”.

In October 1919 the Examiner reported that progress on the erection of the church had been delayed “owing to the contractor having a severe attack of the influenza”. The contractor must have made a quick recovery because in January 1920, the Burnie Methodist Circuit Report noted that a church at Oonah “had been re-erected, and successfully opened”.

From the 1920’s newspaper reports refer to the Oonah church as the Highclere Methodist church. Apart from weddings, harvest festivals and Sunday school anniversaries; reports about the church are rare although there is mention of a vestry being added in 1927 and the interior of the church painted in 1953.
I have not discovered when the church closed although the photo taken in 2007 shows the building in an advanced state of decay. Tracking the church on Google Street View reveals that by 2010 it had been demolished.

The Highclere Methodist church is typical of dozens of wooden churches across the region. Like the old Oonah church, they were often removed, repurposed, decay and then gradually disappear from memory.

Highclere Church in 2007: Source Libraries Tasmania NS3159-1-381 (photographer not indicated)


Uncropped original photo: Source Libraries Tasmania NS3159-1-381 (photographer not indicated)

Google Streetview 2008

Google Streetview 2018 - A pile of planks is all that remains of the the historical church from Dundas.

Sources:

North West Post, Saturday 8 April 1911, page 2
The Examiner, Friday 7 January 1917, page 3
North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Friday 11 October 1918, page 1
The Examiner, Friday 4 July 1919, page 3
The Examiner, Monday 13 October 1919, page 5
The Advocate, Thursday 15 January 1920, page 4
Advocate, Thursday 20 November 1924, page 4
Advocate, Thursday 24 February 1927, page 4
Advocate, Thursday 3 December 1953, page 11

Dennison, C. J Where in Tasmania. C. J. Dennison, Glenorchy, Tas, 1994.


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