No. 608 - Penguin and West Pine Presbyterian Church - "Smashed to Matchwood"

West Pine is a small rural community situated midway between Ulverstone and Burnie and approximately 8 kilometres south west of Penguin. Situated west of Pine Road the area was called "Pine Road West" but was locally known as"West Pine” which was eventually the name officially adopted.

West Pine’s Presbyterian church has a complicated history. The original West Pine church was removed from Penguin in 1905 but was blown down in a storm in 1910. This was replaced by a new church in 1911. This church closed in 1930 but was used by the Methodists until 1933. The church was later sold in 1941 and removed to a site near Howth on the Bass Highway where it was converted into a house.

This article will trace the history of the church from its origins at Penguin in 1888 through to its removal from West Pine 1941.

Presbyterian activity at Penguin began in 1886 with Reverend Hull holding a service in a local hall. Within the space of two years the Presbyterians had built a church in the town:

“The new Presbyterian Church at Penguin was formally opened with divine service on Wednesday last, the Rev. J. Russell, M.A., of Evandale, preaching an appropriate discourse. A substantial dinner was afterwards laid in the Town Hall, about 160 friends and visitors being present….The new church, which was designed by Mr Bellion and erected by Messrs. Jenkin and Ling, is capable of holding about 120 persons, and is very neatly and comfortably finished and fitted up…”.

After the turn of the century the church experienced declining numbers and from 1904 the Penguin Baptist mission was also using the building. In 1905 a decision was made to relocate the church and in September 1905 tenders were advertised for its removal to a site at West Pine. In November 1905 The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times reported:

Mr J. Ling has succeeded in removing the Scotch Kirk from Penguin to the corner of Mr Robson’s land, West Pine road. The walls were taken whole. Mr W. Bosney carefully did the carting”.

By late 1905 the church had been reassembled and reopened for services on Sunday 24 December.

The church was clearly thriving at its new location for in June 1910 tenders were invited for extending the church and building a vestry. However, before these improvements took place, disaster struck when in August 1910 the church was completely destroyed in a storm. The North West Post described the extend of the damage:

“A destructive storm passed passed over the district last evening, doing an immense amount of damage. The Presbyterian Church at West Pine was blown down, and some of the building was carried across a paddock into a creek about ten chains away. The floor was lifted, and the seats huddled together, broken in pieces. The only thing that was not smashed was the organ, and it is a miracle how it escaped, as the walls and roof were smashed to matchwood”.

It did not take long for the Presbyterian community to recover from the disaster. Tenders for a new building were advertised in October 1910. Mr A. Greenhill of Burnie was awarded the contract and a new church was opened and dedicated by Reverend Stewart Byron on Thursday 5 January 1911 and special services were held on following Sunday.

Given the effort to remove the church in 1905 and rebuild it 1910, it is surprising that the new church would close within two decades. It had a brief reprieve in 1930 when it was used by the Methodists for periodical services. This arrangement came to an end in February 1933.

In 1941 the church was removed to a site near Howth on the Bass Highway where the timbers were used in the construction of a house. The building still stands although it is very difficult to discern any church-like features, at least from the exterior. The church’s furniture was taken to a new Presbyterian church built on Abbott Street, in the suburb of Newstead at Launceston.

The photograph used in this article is one of the church that was built in 1910. I have yet to find a an image of the original church built at Penguin in 1888. Additional information and sources are most welcome as all articles are updated. I can be contacted through this page or my Facebook page "Churches of Tasmania" which is linked here: Churches of Tasmania.


The new church at West Pine (1911) - Source: The Weekly Courier, February 1911

Notice of the church's reopening after its removal in 1905 - Source: North Western Advocate - December 1905
The house on the Bass Highway, near Howth, which contains timbers from the West Pine Church (Google Street View)


Map showing the location of West Pine - placenames.gov.tas.edu.au

Sources:

The Tasmanian Mail, 12 June 1886, page 20
Devon Herald, Friday 16 March 1888, page 2
Daily Telegraph, Monday 19 March 1888, page 3
The North Western Advocate and The Emu Bay Times, Saturday 25 June 1904, page 2
The North Western Advocate and The Emu Bay Times, Wednesday 6 September 1905, page 2
The North Western Advocate and The Emu Bay Times, Friday 24 November 1905, page 2
The North Western Advocate and The Emu Bay Times, Saturday 23 December 1905, page 6
The North Western Advocate and The Emu Bay Times, Wednesday 18 April 1906, page 2
The North Western Advocate and The Emu Bay Times, Saturday 11 June 1910, page 7
The North Western Advocate and The Emu Bay Times, Thursday 11 August 1910, page 2
The North Western Advocate and The Emu Bay Times, Tuesday 18 October 1910, page 2
The North Western Advocate and The Emu Bay Times, Wednesday 4 January 1911, page 2
The North Western Advocate and The Emu Bay Times, Wednesday 11 January 1911, page 2
The Advocate, Saturday 18 February 1933, page 2
Examiner, Monday 22 December 1941, page 4

Keesing, Ann, Johnstone, Phillippa and Penguin History Group (Tas.) Churches of Penguin and surrounding district. Penguin History Group Inc, [Penguin, Tas.], 2009.

Comments

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

No. 1058 - Strahan - St Finn Barr's Catholic Church (1900-2005)