No. 375 - The Inveresk Congregational Chapel - 'The Inhabitants over the Bridge'

The Invermay Congregational Chapel is associated with Reverend Charles Price who established two other Launceston Congregational churches; the Tamar Street Chapel (1837) and the Vincent Street Wycliffe Chapel (1848). Price maintained an effective ministry for over 50 years up until his death in 1891. Charles Price is regarded as the founder of Launceston’s temperance movement, the City Mission and the Bible Society. He lectured frequently on scientific subjects to the Mechanics' Institute, which he had helped to found.

The chapel at Inveresk (then called ‘New Town’) was established by the congregation of the Tamar Street Chapel. The Launceston Examiner carried a brief report on its opening on Sunday 13 May 1858:

“On Sunday this building, intended for a Sabbath School and preaching station, was formally opened. The Rev. C. Price preached in the afternoon at 3, and in the evening at 6 o’clock. The place has been erected in connection with the church and congregation meeting in Tamar-street Chapel, for the use of the inhabitants over the bridge. School will be opened at half past-past nine in the morning, and two in the afternoon, and religious service held at three o’ clock every Sunday”.

Further details about the chapel appear in the same report concerning a fundraising ‘tea meeting’:

“At the tea meeting on Monday evening about eighty persons were present. The Rev. Mr. Price made some remarks, during which he stated that Mr. Crookes had given them a bell worth £5, which would be hung at the end of the chapel”.

The report states the cost of the chapel amounted £250 which included the land (£40), the building (£180), and extras amounting to about £30. Donations were received from the Juvenile Missionary Society.

There is very little information about the chapel’s use for services although it was reported as still being used as a Congregational Sunday school at the time of Price’s death in 1891.

In 1909, the Examiner reported that the building had been sold but the Launceston City Mission was renting it for ‘mission work’:

“In the report of the annual meeting of the Launceston City Mission it was stated that through the generosity of “a gentleman deeply interested in mission work" there was likely to be an extension of operations. As a matter of fact, the work there referred to at Inveresk had already been begun. Several preliminary meetings were held, and the young men and youths who frequent the locality of Dry, Bedford, Russell, and the adjacent streets had been invited to spend their evenings on Tuesday and Thursday at the Russell-street Hall. This hall was at one time the property of the Tamar-street Congregational Church, but has since fallen into the hands of a private proprietor”.

The work of the City Mission does not seem to have progressed as a further report in 1912 reveals that the Baptists had acquired use of the building:

“A few weeks ago, writes a correspondent, there stood in the old Congregational hall in Russell-street a 'band of workers. As they looked around, broken windows, dingy walls, and tumbled down furniture met their gaze. They were considering the problem of raising the "submerged tenth”.* There was but one conclusion - that a transformation must take place. A band of practical workers was enlisted, sashes were glazed, walls brightened by colouring and a platform erected and seating accommodation provided”.

The hall was used by the Baptists until 1919, when a new Baptist hall was erected on Holbrook Street. The eventual fate of the Congregational chapel is not know. A house is now located at 4 Russell Street, the site of the ‘mission hall’, however it is possible that some remnants of the chapel survive in the present building. The history of the Russell Street Baptist Mission Hall and the new Baptist hall built on Holbrook Street, will be the subject of a future blog entry.

* submerged tenth - the supposed fraction of the population permanently living in poverty.

Reverend Charles Price. Source: National Library of Australia digitised item. PIC S8437

Launceston Examiner 25 May 1858

Google street view of 4 Russell Street - Site of the Congregational Chapel/Hall


Launceston Examiner, Tuesday 25 May 1858, page 3
Launceston Examiner, Tuesday 1 June 1858, page 3
Launceston Examiner, Saturday 11 December 1858, page 3
Tasmanian News, Monday 9 October 1893, page 2
Examiner, Saturday 19 June1909, page 9
Examiner, Wednesday 12 June 1912, page 5

Sharples, Theo E. and Congregational Union of Tasmania.  Congregationalism in Tasmania, 1830-1977 : a brief history / compiled by Theo E. Sharples  Congregational Union of Tasmania Hobart  1977

The Tasmanian Post Office Directory, 1891-1937


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