No. 549 - Burnie - St George's Anglican Church

Burnie is a port city on the north-west coast of Tasmania. Burnie’s origins date back to 1827 when a settlement was established at Emu Bay by the Van Diemen’s Land Company. The settlement was later renamed Burnie after William Burnie, a director of the Van Diemen's Land Company.

Burnie’s first Anglican church, a small wooden structure, was built on a site on Wilmot Street in 1850. The history of the original church was the subject of a previous article. [See No. 545]. The poor condition of the old church led to its closure before the current building on the corner Cattley and Mount Streets opened in December 1885. The new building was substantially altered in the late 1950’s and barely resembles the church built in 1885.

The Launceston Examiner’s report on the consecration of the new St George’s by Bishop Sandford on Friday 5 December 1885 reveals some interesting details about the new building:

“The new Anglican Church of St. George was opened yesterday. The opening service began at 5.30 p.m., and was very well attended. Mr. James Dudfield, church warden, read the petition for license and the sentence of license was then granted by the Bishop, being read aloud by the Rev. W. Hogg. After a few special prayers by the Bishop, the usual evening service was proceeded with, the incumbent (Rev. B. K. Bourdillon) officiating, and the Rev.W. Hogg reading the lessons. The Bishop preached an appropriate sermon, from the words "Let all things be done to edifying," dwelling especially upon the responsibility of the individual in the edification of the whole church. A collection on behalf of the building fund was made at the close of the service, amounting to nearly £15”. 

The report continued:

“The new church is a brick building with buttresses and Gothic windows. It is only part of a complete plan (prepared by Mr. Wm. Pitt, architect, of Melbourne), including transept and chancel. The nave alone has been built at present, and is seated for a little more than 200 people. The internal fittings are better than are seen in most provincial churches, and have been partly locally manufactured and partly supplied by a London firm. The roof, which is a piece of local work, is very handsome, and the communion rail shows that a very tasteful design has been well carried out. They are also the work of a local tradesman. After the conclusion of the service a tea-meeting was held in the school-room, which was well filled. After tea, which had been sumptuously provided by the ladies of the congregation, songs were sung and well received. The Incumbent gave a short address, in which he stated that the total cost of the church, exclusive of a few special gifts, was about £1000, of which about £700 had been raised up to the present time. The Bishop congratulated the Church of England people of Emu Bay upon their new building, and expressed a hope that the debt would be paid off….”

In 1934, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the laying of St George’s foundation stone, a memorial stained glass window was installed in honour of former rectors and prominent members of the Anglican community.

The rapid growth of Burnie after the Second World War necessitated an enlargement of the church. Alterations were carried out in the late 1950’s which resulted in the virtual demolition of the 1885 building and its reconstruction at a cost of £31 000. The remodelled church maintained the Gothic style although the exterior is now stucco-covered brick.

St George’s is now the only Anglican church in the city and is called Burnie Anglican Church.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

St George's before the modern additions.  Undated Valentine postcard.  Source: Libraries Tasmania - AUTAS0016125141317

Sources:

The Mercury, Saturday 5 December 1885, page 3
Launceston Examiner, Wednesday 9 December 1885, page 3
Advocate, Monday 24 September 1934 page 6 
Advocate, Friday 6 October 1944, page 2


Pink, Kerry and St. George's Anglican Church (Burnie, Tas.) A place to worship : a history of St. George's Anglican Church, Burnie. The Church, Burnie, Tas, 1984.

Burnie: A Thematic History, Burnie City Council 2010 (Burnie City Heritage Survey)

Henslowe, Dorothea I and Hurburgh, Isa Our heritage of Anglican churches in Tasmania. Mercury-Walch, Moonah, Tas, 1978.

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