No. 616 - Waratah Presbyterian Church - "Why send a man to Waratah?"

Waratah is a former mining town located approximately 80 kilometres south of Burnie. Waratah was briefly the site of the largest tin mine in the world. The town had its beginnings in 1871 when James "Philosopher" Smith discovered tin at Mount Bischoff. The population of Waratah reached 2500 at its peak but is now under 300. It was connected to the Emu Bay Railway by a branch line, which was opened in 1885 then closed in 1940. The Van Diemen's Land Company surveyors were responsible for naming the town.

Five religious denominations were established at Waratah including a Presbyterian church. The Presbyterians were the last denomination to build a church and also the first to leave. The drive to establish a church at Waratah came from the Presbyterian General Assembly and a lack of local support may explain why the church closed only 7 years after it had opened.

At the Home Mission Festival held at Launceston in 1911, Reverend P. Hope, Convener of the Home Missions urged for the establishment of a church at Waratah:

“People said: Why send a man to Waratah, where there are already a Catholic priest and an Anglican and a Methodist worker? But these three men, straining body and soul in their work, had only attached 500 people to their congregations, and what about the other 2,000 or 2,500 people? They must realise that they were not a denomination working in rivalry with other denominations; the work was a bigger thing than the church, and he trusted that all the churches were all working in the same cause”.

By the end of 1911 Presbyterian services were being held in Waratah’s Athenaeum Hall and within 18 months a church was under construction. The church opened in late October 1913 but there are only passing references to the event in local and regional newspapers.

By 1920 reports indicate that the church was operating only periodically. In 1923 a decision was made to sell the building and tenders for the church’s sale and removal were advertised in January 1924. The building was purchased by the Anglican Church and removed to Ridgley where it reopened as the Holy Trinity Anglican church in October 1926.

The church at Waratah - Photo supplied by Anne Dunham

One of the few harvest festivals held at the church.

The church at Ridgley.  It is now the premises of a hairdressing business. Photo supplied by Anne Dunham

Advertisement for the church's sale and removal in 1924 (The Advocate)


The Mercury,  Tuesday 19 September 1911, page 6
Zeehan and Dundas Herald, Tuesday 13 May 1913, page 1
Examiner, Saturday 26 July 1913, page 8
Examiner, Monday 20 October 1913, page  6
The Mercury, Tuesday 2 December 1913, page 3
Advocate, Saturday 12 January 1924, page 3
Daily Telegraphy, Friday 8 October 1926, page 8
Advocate, Wednesday 20 October 1926, page 4


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