No. 617 - Launceston - The Frankland Street Church-School (1854-1861)

In October 1854 Launceston’s third Anglican church opened at a site on Frankland Street. This was a temporary church for the new parish of St Paul’s. The church served south Launceston for almost seven years before it was replaced by St Paul’s Church which was built at a site on nearby Cleveland Street in 1861.

On Saturday 14 October 1854, Launceston’s Cornwall Chronicle drew the attention of its readers to an advertisement in the newspaper announcing the opening of a ‘new’ church in St Paul’s parish:

“The building in Franklin-street, formerly used as a school for the Church of England children, has been fitted up for temporary service until the Church for St. Paul's Parish is built. The very large population in the neighbourhood has long required attention to its spiritual necessities, and it will be a source of sincere gratification to every Christian heart to learn that means are in progress for supplying them. At the close of the service to-morrow a collection will be made, to defray the cost of fitting up the building for public accommodation”.

According to the Tasmanian Church Chronicle of November 1854, the church was opened on Sunday 15 October with a morning sermon preached by Reverend Filleul, warden of Christ College, and a second service was held in the afternoon led by the Lord Bishop of the Diocese. The Chronicle further records:

“The building commonly known as the Frankland-street school room, has been temporarily fitted up for the performance of Divine worship, and on the occasion in question was well filled, the collection amounting to £25. The parish comprises a thickly-populated part of Launceston, principally inhabited by the working classes, who have now the means of religious worship brought home to their doors with the benefits of a resident clergyman”.
The Frankland Street school was established in 1847 and was located on the northern side of the street, approximately midway between Charles and Wellington Street. It was described as “a strange looking old weatherboard structure of the bush hut style of architecture… perched up on a clay bank”.

The Frankland Street church’s brief existence came about as a consequence of the creation of the new parish of St Paul’s established in 1851. The evolution of Launceston’s parishes is outlined in an article published in the Examiner in 1904:

“In the year 1842 the population of Launceston had increased to such an extent as to render it necessary to relieve St. John's [parish] of a certain amount of work and responsibility, and therefore the northern portion of the town, with Brisbane.street as the dividing line, was formed into a separate cure, and Holy Trinity Church was erected. In 1851 the population still being on the increase, and stretching southward, it was found necessary to still further relieve n St. John's, and so another parish was formed, taking in all that portion of the town south of Balfour-street, and to be known as the parish of St. Paul's. The mission district of Newnham, or Allenvale, situated about three miles from Launceston, on the George Town-road, was added to this parish. Here, in the same year, 1851, a small church was erected, and opened for divine service on April 27…this building is still in existence, and is used as a state school. Mr. George Banks-Smith… was first placed in charge of this parish as catechist, and on his ordination in 1852 became first incumbent of St. Paul's and Newnham".

Considering the rapid growth of the new parish, it is surprising that the Frankland Street church remained in use for so long. In a review of the early years of the parish’s history, the Examiner records:

“The Rev. G. B. Smith worked hard in his new parish, and was ably assisted by the late Mr. Wm. Henty, Mr. and Mrs. Cleveland, and many others who formed the congregation in those days, and amongst those who took a great interest and did much to keep the congregation together…. The Rev. G. B. Smith resigned the incumbency of St. Paul's in 1859, and [the Bishop]… offered the incumbency of St. Paul's to the Rev. Augustus Barkway, which he accepted. It was not to be supposed that a congregation, especially a town one would long put up with such a miserable building as that which served the purpose of a church in Frankland-street. Accordingly in 1860 a site was purchased… In the short space of six months the building was completed, and opened for divine service on May 12, 1861, by Bishop Nixon”.

The Frankland Street church continued to be used as a Sunday school until 1863. The only image of the old church is the W.H. Carl Burrows ‘Photo’ which was published in the Weekly Courier in 1902 on the occasion of the passing of Reverend George Banks Smith in April of that year.

Links to other articles on Churches of Tasmania which relate to St Paul’s Parish are provided here:

A history of St Paul’s on Cleveland Street [No.435]
An article on a church that was proposed to replace St Paul’s in the 1930’s [No.435]
An article on St Paul’s chapel in Launceston General Hospital [No.159]

The Weekly Courier, Saturday 10 May 1902. - Photo by W.H. Carl Burrows

The Cornwall Chronicle 14 October 1854

The approximate site of the Frankland Street church - image: Google Street View


Cornwall Chronicle, Saturday 14 October 1854, page 4
Launceston Examiner, Thursday 28 December 1854, page 3
Mercury, Saturday 26 April 1902, page 3
The Weekly Courier, Saturday 10 May 1902, page 2357
Examiner, Wednesday 26 October 1904, page 7 
Daily Telegraph, Thursday 22 December 1904, page 3
Examiner, Friday 13 October 1944, page 4


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