No. 510 - Longford Primitive Methodist Chapel

In 1808 Methodist lay preacher Hugh Bourne was expelled from the Methodist movement. Bourne and his followers became known as Primitive Methodists. Bourne adopted the term “Primitive” from a statement made by John Wesley in 1790: "I still remain a primitive Methodist”. Bourne's followers were also called 'Ranters' with reference to their crude and often noisy preaching.

The Primitive Methodists appeared in Launceston in 1857 and were strongest in northern Tasmania. Their camp meetings attracted the working classes, who sometimes did not feel accepted by the Wesleyan Methodists. Shortly after their arrival in Launceston the Primitive Methodists established a mission at Longford. The first meeting was conducted by Reverend Langham and was held in a private home. Further recruitment took place with the first camp meeting held in January 1860. By 1861 the ‘Primitives’ were in a position to build a church and a foundation stone for a chapel was laid on Sunday 14 November 1860.

The building was completed by March 1861 and the opening ceremony was reported by The Launceston Examiner:

“The neat and pretty little chapel built by the Primitive Methodists at Longford, was opened for divine worship on Sabbath last, when three sermons were preached… On all the occasions the chapel was comfortably filled, a gracious influence pervaded the congregations, two souls professed to be converted in the prayer meeting that followed the evening services…. On Monday a tea meeting was held in the chapel, … upwards of two hundred people sat down, and did ample justice to the good things provided for them…”

The report added:

“The cost of the chapel, including the purchase of land and fencing the property in, as well as building, … would be close upon £620…. It may be added that Mr Martin of Perth drew the plans and specifications of the chapel… and he also was the contractor. Mr Giles and Sons did the brickwork, the whole of which is done in a workman-like manner, and to the general satisfaction of the trustees”.

Worship took place at the chapel for exactly 40 years. With the merger of the Primitive Methodist and Wesleyans churches under the Methodist Union of 1901 the building was sold to the Presbyterians:

“The church had been purchased from the Primitive Methodists: £100 deposit has been paid, and £50 has been collected since to reduce the balance of £200 by the end of the year. The organ and all furniture have been taken over, and members of the church are to be congratulated on having such a nice building”.

The Primitive Methodists continued to use the building along with the Presbyterians until “the consumption of the Union with the Wesleyan Methodists” in early 1902. The building was demolished in the 1980’s.

The Longford Primitive Methodist Chapel - Source: Libraries Tasmania

Launceston Examiner, Tuesday 6 November 1860


Sources:

The Cornwall Chronicle, Saturday 30 March 1860, page 4
Launceston Examiner, Tuesday 6 November 1860, page 3
Launceston Examiner, Thursday 28 March 1861, page 4 

Barns, Wallace; An abridgement of a history of the Primitive Methodist connexion in Tasmania 1857-1902, Hobart 1970.


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