No. 451 - The Melrose Methodist Church - "Not Quite All That May Be Wished"

Melrose is small community approximately 10 kilometres south of Devonport. The area, originally known as Melrose Creek, was developed after the Don River Railway Company built a track through the area. Melrose once had a large limestone quarry that operated until the early 1960’s. There was only one church at Melrose although there was another Methodist church built at nearby Aberdeen.

Reverend Walter Mathison, a Congregational minister based at Forth conducted the first religious services in Melrose in 1857. Worship took place in a slab-hut which served as a church. The hut was later used by local preacher, John Denny. There was an attempt to build a church at Melrose in 1880 and tenders were advertised for the construction of a Wesleyan church and ‘day school’ but this never proceeded. Sunday school and services were held in the Don Company Store at Melrose before a church was eventually built in 1892.

There are two newspaper reports describing the church and both provide some detail about its construction and opening. The first report is from Latrobe’s North Post Standard:

“The opening of a new Wesleyan Church [at] Melrose Creek is announced in our advertising columns. About six months ago religious services were commenced at this place by the Rev T. G. White, the resident Wesleyan Minister, and were continued with such acceptance and interest that the proposal to erect a suitable building for Divine Worship was soon made. The matter was taken up most heartily by those interested, and subscription lists having been opened, responses were received amounting to more than half the sum expected to be needed, and it was soon decided to erect a wooden building large enough to accomodate about 100 persons. The contract for the erection of the building was obtained by Mr J. B. Hainsworth, of Latrobe, who has carried out his instructions in a most praiseworthy manner, and on Sunday and Wednesday next, the residents of the district and their friends are invited to take part in the interesting service connected with the opening. For the information of those who may not know we would say that the church is exactly seven and a half miles from Latrobe and with the exception of a short portion at the far end the road is metalled all the way. There will be games of various kinds on Wednesday afternoon, and as the road to Melrose Creek is one of the pleasantest for a drive we have, no doubt there will be a large attendance of visitors”.

A second report is from Devonport’s North West Post:

“Some time during last year the Rev. T.G. White, Wesleyan minister at Latrobe, began holding services at Melrose Creek, and later on it was decided to erect a suitable building. A site, containing half an acre of land, in a good position, was given by Mr John Rundle, and tenders were called… with the result that they have very expeditiously raised a most presentable structure, measuring 30ft x 20ft, with a porch. The walls are 13 feet, the roof is of iron, and the foundation of stone, the balance of the structure being of wood. The building, which will be amply large enough, except for a very special occasions, is fitted with seats that have been made by supporters of the church from timber supplied free by Mr Bott, of the Nook sawmills, and although they are not quite all that may be wished, yet, until more funds are available for others more comfortable, they will answer their purpose admirably. The opening services were held on Sunday when the Rev. T.G. White conducted service morning, afternoon, and evening to large congregations….”

In addition to the inadequate seating, other aspects of the building seem to have been fairly basic because significant renovations took place in 1901, barely 9 years after the church had opened. The church was officially reopened on Sunday 28 June 1901 after the building had been lined with pine and more suitable seating and a new pulpit installed. In 1908 a hall was built alongside the church. This was removed in 1952 to be used as a Methodist church at nearby Quoiba. 

The Melrose church closed in 1975 and was then sold and later removed to a property near Mount Roland where is was converted into a house. A photograph of the church (house) in 2017 can be seen in the photograph below although it appears to have been somewhat dismembered. The entrance porch has been moved to the side but the old church’s distinctive windows are still clearly visible.

The removal of the church brought an end to 82 years of worship at Melrose and the two other Methodist churches at nearby Aberdeen and Quoiba have also since closed.

The church in 1975 - Source: Launceston Examiner

The location of Melrose - source placenames.tas.gov.au

The tender for a church at Melrose in 1880 - but was never built.

The North West Post 1892

North West Advocate and Emu Bay Times 1901


Real estate photograph from 2017 - Courtesy of B&H Real Estate

Sources:

Devon Herald, Saturday 6 March 1880, page 2 & 3
The North Coast Standard, Saturday 5 March 1892, page 2
The North West Post, Tuesday 22 March 1892, page 3
North Coast Standard, Saturday 7 May 1892, page 2
North West Post, Saturday 7 May 1892, page 3
North West Post , Saturday 14 May 1892, page 2
North Coast Standard, Friday 28 April 1893, page 2
North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Saturday 25 May 1901, page 2
North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Saturday 22 June 1901, page 4
North West Post, Thursday 27 June 1901, page 3
North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Friday 28 June 1901, page 4
Examiner, Wednesday 10 March 1909, page 7
Advocate, Thursday 17 May 1945, page 4
Advocate, Monday 4 May 1953, page 6
The Examiner, Saturday 31 March 1975, page 28

Stansall, M. E. J and Methodist Church of Australasia Tasmanian Methodism, 1820-1975 : compiled at the time of last Meeting of Methodism prior to union. Methodist Church of Australasia, Launceston, Tas, 1975.













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