No. 478 - Lefroy Salvation Army Barracks

The township of Lefroy lies 15 kilometres east of George Town on the north east coast of Tasmania. Once a mining boom town, Lefroy is now a virtual ghost town. At the peak of the mining boom Lefroy’s population may have reached around 2000.

The area around Lefroy was originally called Nine Mile Springs, a reference to the distance to George Town and numerous springs near Lefroy. The settlement was renamed Lefroy in 1881 after a visit by the Acting Governor, Sir Henry Lefroy. It was then a bustling town and boasted a race track, rifle club, cricket club and a brass band. There were six hotels, a State school and private grammar school, a Masonic Lodge and a Mechanics Institute. In 1907 the headquarters of George Town Municipality was relocated to Lefroy and remained there until the 1930s. Once commercial mining ceased the town slowly declined with its school and last church closing in 1954. Many of Lefroy’s miners’ houses were removed to George Town and Beaconsfield.

There were four places of worship established at Lefroy including Methodist, Anglican and Catholic churches. The Salvation Army is the least known of these and references to its activities by Launceston newspapers is fleeting.

The date of the opening of the Salvation Army barracks or hall is not known although in July 1896 there is a reference to “an entertainment” taking place in “the new barracks of the Salvation Army”. In the same report it is mentioned that the Salvation Army was awaiting the arrival of a new captain, as Mr Miller had “left for New South Wales”.

When the hall opened in 1896 gold production at Lefroy had peaked and the town went into a slow decline. One by one, the churches closed. It is not known when the Salvation Army ceased its services but in 1924 the barracks were removed to Cornwall, another mining town, located in the Fingal valley. The Salvation Army were active at Cornwall until the late 1960’s. The hall was used for Sunday school and for other services until it was sold in the 1990’s and removed to Irish Town (2km east of St Marys) and converted into a house.

The Lefroy Barracks at its new location at Cornwall.  Photo - Courtesy of Jim Haas.


Sources: 

Launceston Examiner, Friday 31 July 1896, page 6
Examiner, Wednesday 29 October 1924, page 9

http://www.gtdhs.com/html/lefroy.html (George Town Historical Society)

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