No. 471 - Lower Barrington Baptist Church - 'Holding the Fort'

Lower Barrington is small farming community about 20 kilometres south of Devonport. The Don River Trading Company had a tramway terminus in the Lower Barrington area from which timber was railed to the mill at the Don. This resulted in opening up the district which is now one of the richest farming areas in Tasmania.

In 1891 a Baptist Church was established in nearby Sheffield. In 1893 the Sheffield and District Church was created to serve the Kentish region. Lower Barrington became one of six satellite churches along with West Kentish; Staverton; Beulah; Paradise and Nook. In 1914 land was purchased to build a church at Lower Barrington and in the following year construction began.

The foundation stone for the church was laid on 29 September 1915. The building is identical to the Nook Union Church, the plans of which were loaned at no cost. The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times carried a report on the foundation stone-laying ceremony:

“Another stage was reached by the Baptist Church, at Lower Barrington on Wednesday last, when the foundation stone of the new church was laid. The building committee had decided that the honour of laying the stone should be conferred upon Mr. John Cocker, of Lower Barrington, as he had been the hardest worker in connection with the purchase of land and getting the preliminaries arranged for the building of the church. ….Revs. Britton and Leeder, visiting ministers from Ulverstone and Devonport, then spoke words of congratulation and cheer, after which Mr. Cocker laid the foundation stone”.

“In a neat little speech he told of the pleasure he had in doing as the committee desired, saying that being now old and stricken in years he could not expect to live and see the full work done in years to come, …..Then various donations were placed on the stone. The money, was counted and found to be over £8”. 


“One person - Mr. French, of Wattle Grove - was greatly missed. Mr. French has loyally stood, by the church since its inception and, cheerfully held the fort when no preacher arrived, besides taking his full share as a local preacher, Mrs. French being a true help meet to him in this work. The inscription on the stone is: Baptist Church; This stone was laid by John Cocker, Sept. 29, 1915. After the laying of the stone the people, of whom there were a fine assembly; repaired to the Victoria Hall, where a sale of gifts and work was held, the proceeds of which will go to the building fund….”


The church was partly built with voluntary labour and timber for the building came from George Lockett’s mill at Staverton and was supplied at a reduced rate. The church was officially opened on Sunday 16 July 1916. Three services were held, all led by pastor Rev. W. L. Heaven.

A vestry was added to the rear of the church in 1934 and this was enlarged in 1937 and again in 2015. Since 2007 the church became a fully autonomous Baptist Church and in 2016 it celebrated its centenary. The Lower Barrington Baptist church is the only church of the six churches of Sheffield District Church which has survived.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Sources:


The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Saturday 2 October 1915, page 7
The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Saturday 15 July 1916, page 2
Examiner, Wednesday 19 July 1916, page 3

June Edwin; Lower Barrington Celebrates 100 Years. Advance, The Tasmanian Baptist, Vol. 66 No. 2 June 2016 

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