No. 373 - St Barnabas at Scottsdale - 'The Anglican Church People Are Bestirring'

Scottsdale is the largest town in north-east Tasmania. It is named after the Government Surveyor, James Scott, who explored the region in the 1850’s. The town was initially planned around Ellesmere but it developed about a kilometre south of the original site and was officially called Scottsdale after 1893.

The Anglican’s were the last of the major denominations to build a church at Scottsdale. A possible reason for this was that an Anglican church at nearby Springfield had been opened in 1884. Anglicans had also been able to use the Union church at Ellesmere and later services were held at the town’s Masonic Hall.

The move to build a church began in October 1888:

“The members of and those interested in the establishing of a Church of England in Scottsdale were invited to a social meeting, at the Masonic Hall, to consider the best means of bringing about the above object. About 30 ladies and gentlemen were present. The Rev. Canon Icely, being the leading spirit…”. 

However four years were to pass before material progress was made. The ‘Travelling Correspondent’ for the Hobart Mercury explained:

“…During the incumbency of the Rev. [Icely], the idea of erecting a church was first mooted, and a nucleus of funds got together. Things, however, hung fire for a good while. It remained for the present zealous paster - the Rev. Leigh Tarleton - to bring the matter to an issue”.

In March 1892 the Launceston Examiner reported that the erection of a church was imminent:

“The Anglican Church people here are bestirring themselves, and tenders have been called for a handsome building…. The building will be begun at once on a corner block of land opposite the Masonic Hall…”

Within 6 months building was completed and the opening of the church was set for September 1892. Visitors from outside Scottsdale were issued return train tickets at single fares at all stations on the Scottsdale line. The Tasmanian provides a record of the opening service:

“Yesterday broke very threatening over the township of Scottsdale, which was the centre of attraction in the north-eastern district owing to the important ceremony of dedicating the new Anglican church which was recently erected on an admirable site in the main street. In consequence of the unpropitious state of the weather the attendance was not so large as was expected, but nevertheless when the ceremony commenced at about noon there were nearly 200 persons present, including a number of visitors from Launceston and surrounding districts of Scottsdale”.

The Launceston Examiner’s report included a detailed description of the building:

“The new church is a pretty little wooden building with a nave 46ft in length and 28ft wide, and a chancel 16ft by 12ft. It is capable of holding about 180 worshipers. At the east end the building [sic] has an apsidal termination, and is so arranged as to form a vestry screened off from the end of the chancel, which is to be hung with scarlet draperies. Although this mode of construction is of ancient origin, this is the first example of its introduction into Tasmania, and judging by the satisfaction which it has given the church authorities it seems to be most appropriate for a country township. Space has been left for the necessary furniture, such as the font, pulpit, lectern, and reading desk. The entrance is on the north side of the building, which is sheltered by a very pretty porch of Gothic design. At the west end there is a bell cot, wherein the bell will soon be hung. A glance at the plan evidences that the work has been designed so as to have all portions of the church in perfect harmony. The windows are trefoil headed and glazed throughout with cathedral glass, which gives the interior a subdued and solemn appearance. A blackwood dado runs round the interior, and the roof, which is fairly lofty, is of open timbered construction. Mr J. J. Cowling is the general contractor, and too much praise cannot be given him for the efficient manner in which he has completed his agreement. The cost of the building is £810, the total amount expended, including the purchase of the land, being £500".

In 1910 consideration was given to replacing St Barnabas with a brick church. The Examiner’s report of the annual meeting of parishioners reveals that:

“The chairman thought a great need was a parish hall for the use of the parishioners, where their meetings and social gatherings could be held. He was hopeful that within the next two years a brick church would be built, and the present one could then be used as a parish hall”.

However, in 1916, a new parish hall was built alongside the church, the foundation stone of which was laid by Governor William Ellison-Macartney. 

In 1929 a new bell was installed in the bell cote which has an interesting origin:

"Those who knew the mouth of the Tamar some years ago may remember the great bell whose deep fundamental boomed across the waters. Through the thoughtfulness of Mr. A. W.Biggs and the generosity of several of the parishioners, this bell has been purchased for St. Barnabas's Church, and when certain adaptations have been attended to it will succeed the bell now in use... The bell weighs three hundred weights. Beside the many great bells of the world it is a mere pygmy, but it will serve Its purpose well, and should compare very favourably with any church bell in Tasmania".

 St Barnabas remains little altered since it was built a little over 125 years ago and it is now one of a handful of Anglican churches remaining in north-east Tasmania.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

St Barnabas in c.1908 before the addition of the bell-cote.  Source: The Tasmanian Mail


Launceston Examiner Saturday 13 October 1888,  page 1
Launceston Examiner, Tuesday 29 March 1892, page 4 
Tasmanian, Saturday 2 April 1892, page 30
Daily Telegraph, Monday 8 August 1892, page 3
Mercury, Monday 29 August 1892, page 3
Launceston Examiner Saturday 3 September 1892, page 3
Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 7 September 1892, page 3
Launceston Examiner, Wednesday 7 September 1892, page 4
Tasmanian, Saturday 10 September 1892, page 23

The Tasmanian Mail, 23 January 1909, page 20.
Examiner, Saturday 19 February 1916, page 6
North-Eastern Advertiser, Friday 5 July 1929, page 3 
North-Eastern Advertiser, Friday 11 June 1943, page 2

Henslowe, Dorothea I and Hurburgh, Isa Our heritage of Anglican churches in Tasmania. Mercury-Walch, Moonah, Tas, 1978.


  1. To see the builder go to:


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