No. 411 - The Presbyterian Church at Apsley

Apsley is a farming district on the banks of the Jordan River near Melton Mowbray in the southern Midlands. Apsley was once the railhead for the Apsley Line that branched off the Hobart-Launceston Main Line. There were two churches at Apsley; St Bartholomew’s Anglican church and a Presbyterian church which opened in 1914.

Presbyterian worship at Apsley dates back to the turn of the 20th century when the congregation used the waiting room at the Apsley railway station for services. Around this time the average congregation numbered 48 and a Sunday school was run by four teachers.

In 1910 a block of land for a church was purchased and fundraising centred on nearby Kempton enabled a church to be built and which opened on 12 January 1914. A brief report on the opening ceremony was published by the Hobart Mercury:

“The official opening ceremony of the new Presbyterian Church at Apsley took place yesterday, and the function, in every possible way, was most successful. The date chosen was considered appropriate, for it was on January 12, 1822, that the Rev. A. McArthur conducted the first Presbyterian service in Tasmania”.

The opening service was conducted by Reverend J. Heyer. The building was proclaimed to be debt free.

There are very few newspaper reports concerning the activities of the Apsley church. One report describing the 1918 armistice celebrations provides a small glimpse of life at Apsley and the place of the church in the community:

“Immediately upon receipt of the news of the signing of the armistice, a long whistle was blown at the railway station to inform every one of the fact, and residents turned out, and, with an improvised band, kept up a patriotic demonstration until late in the night. On Tuesday afternoon a procession of children marched to the Presbyterian Church, where a prayer of thanksgiving was said and suitable hymns and the National anthem were sung. On Friday evening a thanksgiving service was held in the Presbyterian Church. It was the largest religious gathering ever held here, many being unable to find standing room”.

There are reports of the church’s silver jubilee in 1939 and its 40th anniversary in 1954. Little is known about the church’s later years or when it was closed for services. In the 1980’s the building was sold and removed to Bothwell where it was converted into a cottage which still stands at a site on Elizabeth Street.


The opening of the church in 1914. The Weekly Courier

Real Estate Photograph (2015) Courtesy of First National Elite RE

Real Estate Photograph (2015) Courtesy of First National Elite RE

Real Estate Photograph (2015) Courtesy of First National Elite RE

Sources:

Daily Telegraph, Saturday 10 December 1910, page 4
The Mercury, Tuesday 13 January 1914, page 3
The Weekly Courier, 22 January 1914
The Mercury, Friday 22 November 1918, page 2
The Mercury, Monday 16 January 1939, page 12
The Mercury, Thursday 21 January 1954, page 16

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