No. 389 - The Anglican Mission Hall and The Church of the Good Shepherd at Cornwall

Cornwall is a former coal mining town near St Marys in north-east Tasmania. The opening of a mine in 1886 by the Cornwall Coal Mining was followed by the establishment of a small settlement which grew to about 200 residents by the turn of the 20th century.

Cornwall once had three churches: a Salvation Army hall built in 1924; a Methodist Hall (1905-1928) [See No. 378] and an Anglican Mission Hall built in 1908 and which was later replaced by the Church of the Good Shepherd in the late 1950’s.

Colonel Vincent Legge was instrumental in establishing the Anglican Mission Hall at Cornwall. Legge was a lay-reader and Sunday school teacher, and restored the Church of England at Cullenswood, which had been built by his father. Records of Diocesan Council from 1908 reveal Legge’s role in securing finance for the building:

“At the last meeting of the Diocesan Council a letter was read from Colonel Legge re the loan from the church sites fund for building a mission hall at the Cornwall mine. It was agreed to lend the sum of £45 on the usual guarantee for repayment by the rector and churchwardens, said loan to be repayable in seven annual instalments…”

With loan approved the Mission Hall opened in March 1908. The Launceston Examiner reported:

“The important event of the week has been the opening of the new Mission-hall at Cornwall. The hall was beautifully decorated, and was well filled. The rector (the Rev. J. Hayes) explained financial matters in connection with the hall. After delivering an able address, he presented the prizes to the Sunday-school children…. The superintendent of the Sunday-school….read a letter from Colonel Legge to the children, after which he asked the audience to rise and sing “Auld lang syne”…”

It was intended that the mission hall be used for a variety of purposes beyond a place of worship and a Sunday-school. In the same report the local correspondent for the Examiner commented:

“Now that the Cornwall mines have a new hall, I trust that a club for men and lads will be started. It brings into existence an environment which is good for body and soul, and binds the rising generation of lads together by ties of comradeship. There are bright lads, full of pluck, energy and vigour, working in the pit day after day, and after work no effort is made on the part of those who should interest themselves in supplying a long-felt want - that is a club and reading room, where all may meet every evening. There they will gain useful knowledge, etc., instead of, as at present, being allowed to drift into manhood, gaining their views of life by loitering and conversation, destitute of all those wholesome influences that might sweeten their companionship”.

Over the next 50 years newspaper reports describe activities at the Mission Hall including the annual harvest festivals, Sunday school activities, meetings of the Mother Union and of course Sunday worship. In 1932 the hall was extended by 12ft to accomodate a growth in the number of children attending Sunday-school. In 1930 a public hall was built in Cornwall, replacing the old Methodist Hall which blew down in a storm in 1928. It appears that with the opening of the new public hall, the Mission Hall was no longer used as a public facility. By the 1950’s moves began to replace the old hall with a 'proper' church.

In the late 1950’s the Church of the Good Shepherd was built by volunteer labour and in March 1960 the building was consecrated. The Church of the Good Shepherd served the Anglicans of Cornwall for 30 years before closing in the 1990’s due to a dwindling congregation. The church was sold and dismantled and was used to form part of a house at Scamander.

An undated photo of the Church of the Good Shepherd:  Source -  With kind permission of  Ron Camplin - posted on' St Marys Connections' Facebook Group - 14 April 2019
The Church of the Good Shepherd  - Geoffrey Stephens - The Anglican Church in Tasmania

Examiner, Thursday 5 March 1908, page 4
Examiner, Saturday 14 March 1908, page 9
Mercury, Thursday 19 March 1908, page 2
Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 6 May 1908, page 8
Examiner, Friday 10 December 1926, page 8
Examiner, Thursday 15 December 1927, page 2
Examiner, Wednesday 29 April 1931, page 5
Examiner, Saturday 15 August 1931, page 5
Examiner, Saturday 27 July 1940, page 11
Examiner, Saturday 4 April 1953, page 7
Examiner, Thursday 1 April 1954, page 18

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


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