No. 606 - Upper Castra - Uniting (Methodist) Church (1908-1989)

Upper Castra is a farming district on the Castra Road approximately 20 kilometres south of Ulverstone. It was once part of a thickly wooded area developed by Colonel Andrew Crawford after he retired from the Indian Army. Upper Castra once had three places of worship, these being Anglican, Methodist and Baptist churches. All of these churches have closed and have been either demolished or removed.

In 1908, the year that the Upper Castra Methodist church was built, a correspondent for the North West Post described the development of the district:

“Wonderful progress been made…. during the past twelve months, and several people who visited Upper Castra after a year's absence, at the time of the last sports meeting, were surprised at the many improvements to be noticed on every side. Settlement is slowly but surely pushing southwards. A few years ago Blackwood Park was virtually the end of civilisation. Now there are farms miles on the other side of it. Between the Anglican Church and “Durley" quite a township is springing up. The Methodist and Baptist denominations have both put up neat places of worship, and a commodious public hall, general store, and blacksmith s shop have lately been erected. Numerous private dwellings are also clustered between these places. The cutting of the Heathcote Estate has given a great impetus to the district, this large block of rich agricultural land now consisting of many small farms; each with a neat house upon it. The one thing wanted, and what the people are earnestly wishing for is the tramway from Ulverstone. Until this is done extensive cropping is out of the question, the distance to a port or railway being too great to cart with profit. One load a day only can be taken to Ulverstone and the farmer has to leave here at 4 am. to enable him to get home again before dark…..It is thought that it is about time a telephone was installed at the local post office. In cases of sickness it would be invaluable….”

In 1907 Methodist services began at Upper Castra by Rev. Angwin of Forth, the superintendent minister of the Ulverstone and Forth circuit. The first services were held in the Upper Castra State School. Within a year of the first service a church was built.

Land was donated by Mr. H. R. Wright and the church was formally opened on June 10, 1908, by Rev. Bullas, who had succeeded Rev. Angwin as superintendent of the Ulverstone and Forth circuits. The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times carried a report on the opening services:

“…. It is a substantial and commodious building, and reflects great credit upon the contractor (Mr. Wright). Its seating accommodation, which is by no means limited, was fully taxed on Sunday last, when the opening services were held. ….Both services were characteristically in harmony with the occasion, special emphasis being laid on what were the marks of the ideal church. For some little time services have been held in the local State school, but the large congregations on Sunday demonstrated the need for such a church, and augured well for its future prosperity”.

An interesting feature of the church was that the organ, seats and windows were taken from the old Forth Beach Methodist church. The church at Forth Beach was one of the oldest churches in the North West and also the site of the first Methodist service which took place in 1853. [See No. 490].

After World War Two, the decline of Upper Castra’s population resulted in the closure of its school, post office and churches. The Anglican church closed in the late 1960’s while the Methodist church survived to become a part of the Uniting Church in 1977 and celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1983. A photograph of the church was published in the Advocate’s on its 75th jubilee. The photograph features the late Mr George Viney who attended services for 27 years and at the time of the anniversary was the property's convener and a church elder.

The church closed in 1989 with the final service held on 30 July. The building was sold and removed and is believed to have been placed onto a site behind the old Castra school.


The Upper Castra Uniting Church at the time of its closure in 1989. In the photograph are Mr and Mrs Alan Beswick; Mr and Mrs Bert Hingston; Mrs Edna Connell; Mrs Jean Hardman; Mr Harold Hingston and Mrs Bev Twibell. Photo - The Advocate, 31 July 1989.


Upper Castra in 2010 - Google Street view

Mr George Viney in front of the Upper Castra Uniting  Church on the occasion of the 75th anniversary - Source: The Advocate 1983

The Upper Castra State school where the first Methodist services were held in 1907. Source: Weekly Courier  September 1905

A photograph of a farm in the Upper Castra region in 1913 showing recent clearance of the dense bush  - photo courtesy of Craig Broadfield 

Map showing the location of the Upper Castra district in North West Tasmania

Sources:

North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Wednesday 15 May 1907, page 2
North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Monday 16 September 1907, page 2
North West Post, Tuesday 17 September 1907, page 2
North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Thursday 11 June 1908, page 4
Examiner, Thursday 11 June 1908, page 3
North West Post, Saturday 21 November 1908, page 2
Advocate, Thursday 15 June 1933, page 9
Advocate, 31 July 1989.


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.

Comments

  1. the church is said to be behind the old castra school after demolishion, by the sims family

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

No. 990 - Hobart - St Mary's Cathedral (Part 1) - "The Wild Vines of Tasmania"

No. 988 - North Hobart - The "King Street" Church and School