No. 604 - Holwell - Cotton's Hill Methodist Church - "A Good Feed Hanging"

Holwell is a small rural community in the West Tamar region and is located approximately 15 kilometres southwest of Beaconsfield. Holwell was known as Cotton's Hill until the late 1880’s. When four English families arrived — the Ropers, Greens, Reynolds and Matthews, all from Holwell in England, it was “at their instigation the name was altered”.

The first settlers in the area included the Hinds families and the Kerrison family who were bushmen more than farmers. When the ‘Tasmania Mine’ at Beaconsfield was in full production, millions of feet of timber were conveyed to the sawmills by teams of bullocks and horses. Mr Mark Kerrison, one of the original settlers established a saw-mill at Holwell. He also took a leading part in the establishment of the Cotton’s Hill Wesleyan Methodist church. In 1887 Kerrison attempted to have a State school built to serve the Holwell and Flowery Gully district but this did not open until 1912.

The origins of Holwell’s Methodist church date back to September 1885. Launceston’s Daily Mail reported:

“For some time past the Wesleyans have been conducting services regularly at Cotton's Hill, and have found it necessary to build a church there. Last Thursday they held a meeting to consider the matter, with very favourable results. A committee of management was formed, a subscription list opened, to which a very nice little sum has already been contributed. Some of the residents, who are very good hands among timber, have promised palings, shingles, etc. I understand tenders are to be immediately called for the erection of the building. They have made a good start. We wish them success and hope they will finish up with a good tea-meeting; then I know we will all contribute to the list. These subscription lists are very dry, but when there is a good feed hanging to it it makes all the difference”.
In May 1886 the Daily Telegraph reported timber had been acquired from the Blue Peak sawmill:

“A practical move has been made towards erecting a new Wesleyan chapel at Cotton’s Hill. The required sawn timber has been carted to the building site from Flowery Gully Sawmills by a number of residents at Cotton’s Hill”.

By July 1886 the building committee had made further progress. The correspondent for the Examiner and The Tasmanian News reported:

“Timber is on the ground at Cotton’s Hill for the erection of a Wesleyan Chapel. When the chapel is erected, I understand that it is the intention of the residents to try and get a State school opened”. 

Land for the church was donated by Mr. W. Lee. The tender to build the church was awarded to Mark Kerrison and by April 1887 the building was completed and officially opened. The local correspondent for the Launceston Examiner attended the first service:

“On Sunday I attended the opening of the new Wesleyan Chapel at Cotton's Hill. Hitherto the people of Cotton's Hill have been totally excluded from all religious instruction excepting periodical services the Wesleyans have conducted in private dwellings. Through the perseverance of a few Wesleyan friends, of whom the Rev. J. Mathieson has been to the front, backed-up by the Cotton's Hill people, a neat little chapel quite sufficient for the requirements of the place, capable of seating about 100 persons has been successfully erected, and it is gratifying for the people there to know that services will henceforth be conducted regularly therein every, Sunday. Another great want there is a school. A. large number of children, quite sufficient to occupy the time of a female teacher, are growing up there in total ignorance, I think the Wesleyans will grant the use of the building conditionally that the Government supply a teacher; and were the people alive to their responsibility they would have a teacher in a very few months. The work in connection with the erection of the building has been satisfactorily carried on by Messrs. M. and S. Kerrison, and its opening on Sunday was a very pleasing affair. The building was crowded by an audience who listened with marked attention to an able discourse by the Rev. J. Mathieson".

The fund raising tea meeting held on Monday was somewhat marred by an accident but was otherwise successful in clearing the remaining debt on the building:

“On Monday the tea meeting ….was a great success. About 140 persons were present. Quite a gloom was cast over the scene when, about two o'clock, news arrived that the Rev. Mr. Mathieson had been thrown from the cart and so severely hurt that he had to return to Beaconsfield”.

The subsequent history of the church is relatively uneventful. According to ‘Tasmanian Methodism’, by Max Stansell, in 1974 the church was sold for $35 and removed as Methodist services had not been held for a long time. The building may very well still exist in the form of a farm outbuilding. I have been unable to find an image of the church therefore have used a photograph of the Holwell district from the Weekly Courier taken in 1911.

Additional information about this church is most welcome as all articles are continually updated. I can be contacted through this page or my Facebook page "Churches of Tasmania" which is linked here: Churches of Tasmania.

A view of a settlement at Holwell - The Weekly Courier (November 1911)
The location of Holwell in northern Tasmania -


Daily Telegraph, Monday 28 September 1885, page 2
Launceston Examiner, Thursday 1 October 1885, page 4
Launceston Examiner, Thursday 20 May 1886, page 3
Daily Telegraph, Monday 24 May 1886, page 3
Tasmanian News, Tuesday 27 July 1886, page 2
Tasmanian News, Wednesday 19 January 1887, page 3
Launceston Examiner, Monday 18 April 1887, page 3
Tasmanian News, Friday 22 April 1887, page 4
Launceston Examiner, Saturday 9 July 1887, page 1
The Weekly Courier, Thursday 16 November 1911, page 17
Mercury, Tuesday 26 June 1928, page 7

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.


  1. I lived in Holwell from 1977 to 1985 and my memories of the church, if it is the same building are that it was located to where the community hall stands today and then it was relocated to the property of Ken & Julie Horder or what was Horders road (now Kerrisons road) where it sat for some time before collapsing. The last I can ever recall seeing of the church it was just a pile of wood next to cattle yards. Jenny and Graham Adams would have the best knowledge of what happened to it.


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