No. 376 - The South Road Church of Christ - "A Great Convenience"

In the 1870s the Church of Christ arrived in Tasmania and established itself first in Launceston and Hobart. Initially the denomination was simply known as the ‘Christians' then from 1885 as 'Disciples of Christ' and finaly as 'Churches of Christ'. The Churches of Christ developed numerous congregations across the north of the Tasmania but especially in the north-west.

Church of Christ meetings were held at Sulphur Creek from 1898 and at the Rechabite Hall at Penguin from January 1905. By the end of that year a church was established at South Road about two miles outside Penguin, on the road to Ulverstone. The church was built by Mr Robert Hutton on his own property and opened on Sunday 24 December 1905. The North Western Advocate reported:

“A new place of worship has been erected on South road, in connection with the Church of Christ, and as there are a number of residents in this locality who might find it a difficult matter to reach Penguin or Ulverstone to attend Divine service, the erection of this church will prove a great convenience. A Sabbath school is also to be conducted…”

It is not clear from wording of this report whether a Church of Christ community existed at Ulverstone or that the new church simply offered convenience to all people in the vicinity as there was no other place of worship available along South Road. It is also unclear if the building was new or had been brought to the South Road site from elsewhere because a report in 1909 refers to the church being “renovated both inside and out, and the interior lined with pine, and new seats…being made”.

In 1908, Robert Hutton petitioned and applied to the ‘Penguin Board of Advice’ to have a State school established at the church on his South Road property. He stated that the building was “standing empty all week” and that the “trustees of the church would furnish the building, put a chimney in, and also put up necessary outbuildings”. However, the campaign was thwarted by the Department of Education because the church fell within the radius of an existing school at Penguin.

It was after this episode that the church was ‘renovated inside and out’. After 1909 there are few references to the church in the local press. In June 1917 it hosted the Northern District Conference of the Churches of Christ.

The establishment of a Church of Christ community in West Ulverstone after 1908 raised a new problem for the South Road church as the centre of gravity of its membership shifted eastwards. Services were held in homes at Ulverstone and although worshippers occasionally travelled to South Road, it was inevitable that the church would eventually close. It did so in 1920 when the building was removed at reopened at Queen Street in West Ulverstone in March 1921.

While the South Road church only operated for about 15 years, it lived on in West Ulverstone until the 1970’s. The story of the the Church of Christ in Ulverstone will be the subject of a future blog entry.

The South Road Church of Christ in 1912.  Source: Photo George P. Taylor - sourced from Ulverstone & District Pictorial History Facebook Group


The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Saturday 14 January 1905, page 3
The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Tuesday 26 December 1905, page 2
The North West Post, Friday 21 June 1907, page 2
The North West Post, Wednesday 15 April 1908, page 2
Daily Telegraph, Tuesday 28 April 1908, page 7
Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 27 May 1908, page 6
Examiner, Thursday 28 May 1908, page 5
The North West Post, Friday 10 July 1908, page 2
Examiner, Saturday 23 October 1909, page 5
The North West Post, Saturday 23 October 1909, page 2
North West Post, Wednesday 19 October 1910, page 2
Daily Telegraph, Monday 1 November 1909, page 7
Examiner, Thursday 7 June 1917, page 7
Advocate, Wednesday 2 March 1921, page 2
Advocate, Monday 21 March 1921, page 2


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