No. 493 - Deloraine - St Andrew's Uniting Church - "Good Work from the Shoddy"

Deloraine is an agricultural and tourist centre situated on the Meander River and lies approximately halfway between the cities of Launceston and Devonport. The Methodists were the second denomination to build a church in the town and this building, although now significantly altered, is Deloraine’s oldest original church.

Deloraine was the fourth Methodist circuit established in the north and it formed a base for further expansion into the North West. From the home church at Deloraine, Methodist churches were established at Chudleigh, Dunorlan, Mole Creek, Meander, Caveside, Parkham, Dairy Plains and Blackmoor.

The Launceston Examiner provides the sole surviving report of the church’s opening on Sunday 7 December 1856:

“On Sunday last, notwithstanding the unpropitious state of the weather, a good congregation assembled in the neat and pretty chapel to listen to two admirable discourses delivered by Rev. J.A. Manton, the President of the Wesleyan Conference…. On Monday afternoon, according to announcement, the friends assembled to a tea meeting in the chapel, - more than 200 persons were present. The ladies who provided the tea deserve the highest praise and commendation for the elegant way in which the tables were spread…. After the tea John Crooks, Esq., having been requested to take the chair, opened the proceedings in his usual happy style….Mr. Hutchinson, the treasurer, read a statement of the building fund shewing a debt on the chapel of £254 13s. 8d., …. Rev. J. Fillingham, Rev. Mr. Harris, and Rev. J.A. Manton followed in appropriate and interesting speeches…The result of appeals made to the liberal feelings of the parties present was, that the amount required was subscribed, - and this chapel, erected at a cost of £514, is free from debt….On the Wednesday afternoon the Sunday scholars, to the number of 116, were invited, together with any other young persons, to clear up the good things of the previous day”.

At the time of the church’s establishment, under Reverend R.W. Orton, there were only 19 members, who each contributed £16 a quarter, not counting special collections and pew rent. The first office holders of the church were Henry Tidey, John Cubitt, James Phillips, Henry Hutchinson, William Hughs and Andrew Wigan. In 1860 the first married minister, Reverend Thomas Angwin, was appointed and it was during his ministry a parsonage was built.

By the time of the church’s 40th anniversary in 1896, the building appears to have changed little and a review of its first four decades provides a few more interesting details about the building:

“On Tuesday evening the 40th anniversary of the Wesleyan Methodist church at Deloraine was celebrated. In looking over this old building one cannot but admire the substantial workmanship and materials used in its construction. It has had a new iron roof put on it during the last few months and a fresh coat of paint, and now looks as it prepared to do duty for 40 years more. The time test is the one that proves good work from shoddy. Mr C. Luckhurst, whom some of your senior readers will recollect, was the contractor, and he built the wood work. Mr John Tidey, of Deloraine, claims the credit of assisting at plastering the walls when he was a youth working with his father. And what a galaxy of grand old names famous in the history, of Australian and Tasmanian Methodism are connected with this old church. The Revs. Horton, Manton, Lelean, Caseley, Quick, Cook, Anguin, Grier, E. W. Nye, of Auburn, Victoria, Bishop Taylor, of California, and a host of others. The old church was well filled on Tuesday evening, some of the friends coming a distance of from 10 to 12 miles….”.

Apart from small additions and improvement the church remained little changed. Although there was talk of building a new church during the 1920’s, change only arrived in the 1960’s. In 1966 a new Sunday School hall was built adjoining the church. In 1977 Deloraine’s Presbyterian’s joined the the congregation as a part of the Uniting Church. St Andrew’s Presbyterian church was sold and the West Barrack Street Methodist church was retained. The name “St Andrew’s Uniting Church” was adopted in recognition of the Presbyterian’s who had given up their church.

More changes came in the 1980’s when the exterior of the church was bricked and a new entrance built. In 1986 the church was damaged by a fire started by Advent candles left burning in front of the altar. Despite these events, remnants of the original building remain inside the brick veneer.

On 7 May 2017, in its 161st year, the final service was held at the church. The building is now used by a Mennonite group.

The church before the brick veneer was added in the 1980s. Photo kindly supplied with Lexie Young

An aerial view showing the extensions to the original church.  Source - LINC Tasmania

Launceston Examiner, Thursday 4 December 1856

The church in 2020 - now a Mennonite Church - Photo: Duncan Grant 2019


Launceston Examiner, Thursday 4 December 1856, page 3
Launceston Examiner, Thursday 11 December 1856, page 3
Colonial Times, Saturday 13 December 1856, page 3 
Daily Telegraph, Saturday 26 September 1896, page 7
Advocate, Friday 20 June 1924, page 2
Examiner, Saturday 21 June 1924, page 11
Examiner, Wednesday 9 June 1926, page 7
Meander Valley Gazette, June 12, 2017

Lexie Young - Notes and speech given at the closing ceremony held on 7 May 2017

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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