No. 590 - Gladstone - All Saints' Anglican Church

Gladstone is a small and remote town situated on the banks of the Ringarooma River in northeast Tasmania. It was first settled in 1870 by tin miners; a large number of whom were Chinese. In 1880 the discovery of gold in the area boosted the town’s population but once this was exhausted tin mining became the mainstay of the local economy. Gladstone is named after British Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone, who had also served as Colonial Secretary.

At its peak three religious denominations were represented in the town which had Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian churches. All of the towns churches have closed but two of the buildings have survived and have been converted into houses.

In the early 1890’s religious services took place in Gladstone’s Town Hall. Efforts were made to establish a non-denominational ‘Union Church’. In 1892 the Launceston Examiner’s local correspondent reported:

“A successful social took place recently in the Town Hall in aid of a proposed church for this township. For various reasons a large majority of the inhabitants are in favour of a Union Church. Previous to appointing the committee, Rev. E. Prince Shelley (Anglican) explained very precisely the terms and conditions upon which he would fall in with the project”.

The movement to build a ‘Union Church’ faded and all denominations struggled to attracted ministers to the town. In 1893 Bishop Montgomery visited Gladstone for a confirmation service. The Examiner’s local correspondent used the opportunity to have a dig at the Anglican minister who was based in Derby:

“It is to be hoped the minister, Mr Shelley, will be more regular in his attendance. He is supposed to preach at Gladstone on the last Sunday in the month, but this arrangement has been more honoured in the breach than in the observance”.

At the turn of the century Gladstone’s religious life was still in the doldrums and the township itself was hardly thriving. In 1904 a visiting correspondent for Launceston’s Daily Telegraph described the facilities in the town:

“The town hall is a wooden building, neat but not gaudy. Apparently some doubts existed as to its stability and resisting powers against the high winds that at times prevail at Gladstone, and not trusting entirely to Providence, the walls outside have been stayed up with strong wire ropes. The hall is used for church services, meetings, and entertainments. The letting and care of the hall is under the control of trustees. There is a Roman Catholic church, but services are seldom held there, the members of the church being hardly sufficient to induce a clergyman to travel so long a distance. The State school is a wooden structure that not long ago had a much needed renovation. There are 36 children’s names on the roll. A number of these children are of Chinese extraction, and these the schoolmaster, Mr G. A. Green, finds bright and intelligent. Mrs Green also assists in the school work. The Police Department. — Trooper John Lonergan has charge of… There is a courthouse, watchhouse, and residence….Mr Galloway is the only storekeeper at Gladstone; he also keeps the hotel there, where comfortable quarters are available for visitors”.


By 1908 the Anglican community had made progress in acquiring a church which was a building which had been the local bank. In December The Daily Telegraph reported:

“The Anglican Church has purchased from Mr. J. Torley the building and cottage known as the National Bank, situate in Chaffey street. Archdeacon Beresford, accompanied by Rev. F. Berry, paid a visit to the property on Wednesday afternoon, and afterwards a meeting was held, when it was decided to push forward the work of repairs and alterations”.

By January 1909 considerable progress had been made. The Daily Telegraph reported:

“The newly-appointed churchwardens are evidently energetic men, as they have already started the alterations to the building lately purchased by the Anglican Church, and expect to have everything in order in about a month or six weeks".

By the end of the year the building had been renovated and was officially opened:

“There was a crowded congregation at the opening of the Anglican church on Sunday evening last. The ceremony was conducted by the Rev. A. Wells Ashcroft, who warmly complimented all those connected with the building of the church…The idea of building an Anglican Church on Gladstone originated with the Rev. F. Gibb (now rector of Oatlands). Whilst in the Ringarooma district he started a similar movement in Branxholm, where they now have a nice building…The little church is on the eastern side of Chaffey-street facing the mountain and attached to it is a cottage, which has been tenanted nearly ever since it be came the property of the church some twelve months ago, so, after the small debit of less than £20 is paid off, the congregation can still go on improving the church”.

In 1926 the former bank was completed renovated and a chancel was added, transforming the structure into a building which resembled a church.

“The All Saints' Church at Gladstone has been renovated, and with the addition of a new chancel the old church is now converted into a very neat and substantial building. On Wednesday last the dedication service was conducted by Archdeacon Beresford, assisted by the Rev. F.M. Mortyn. A large congregation attended. After the service the archdeacon was entertained at a social in the Town Hall. Visitors came from surrounding districts, and the function was a decided success”.

As mining activity slowed Gladstone has withered away and its churches closed one by one. All Saint’s closed in the 1990’s and after its sale it was converted into a house. The photographs accompanying this article are from real-estate advert and were taken in 2014.



Photograph courtesy of Harcourts Real Estate (2014)


Photograph courtesy of Harcourts Real Estate (2014)

Photograph courtesy of Harcourts Real Estate (2014)

Photograph courtesy of Harcourts Real Estate (2014)

Sources:

Launceston Examiner, Tuesday 31 May 1892, page 4
Launceston Examiner, Friday 27 January 1893, page 5
Mercury, Monday 26 July 1897, page 4
Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 18 May 1904, page 6
Daily Telegraph, Monday 21 December 1908, page 8
Daily Telegraph, Friday 15 January 1909, page 3
Daily Telegraph, Thursday 4 November 1909, page 7
Examiner, Wednesday 31 March 1926, page 11

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



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