No. 642 - Linda - Presbyterian Church - "Weary tramps across the hills"

Linda is former mining ‘ghost town’ situated east of Queenstown on the Lyell Highway. Linda was located very close to Gormanston, another virtual ‘ghost town’, so that it could be mistaken as part of the same settlement. Both towns were dependent on the mining industry, with Linda supporting the North Mount Lyell Mine and the terminus of the North Mount Lyell Railway. Copper ore was taken from the mine to smelters at Crotty (now under the waters of Lake Burbury) then the refined metal taken to a port at Pillinger on the shores of Macquarie Harbour at Kelly Basin. When North Mount Lyell was taken over by Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company in 1903, Linda was reduced in significance and gradually most residents moved to Gormanston. In 1912 Linda and Gormanston were impacted by Tasmania’s worst mining disaster when 42 miners were killed by a fire deep underground.

For a brief period Linda had a Presbyterian church. Most of the history of this church concerns a complex 7 year saga in getting it built. After it opened in 1914 it lasted only four years when it closed due to Linda’s shrinking population.

Presbyterian services began at Linda in mid 1907 when:

“Mr. Jessop, then missionary in charge of the Presbyterian church at Queenstown, came across the hills, to Linda, to incept a service to the praise and glory of God. …. As a result of Mr. Jessop's weary tramps across the hills it was not long before Mr. Frederick Pitt, State school teacher at Linda, volunteered to hold regular services in the State school, and arrangements for holding the services were duly made. Shortly afterwards the Presbyterians at Linda and Gormanston felt that they should make an effort to get a missionary, and as the result of a successful meeting convened for that purpose, …a missionary was sent…”.

By June 1909 plans for building a church considered. A year was to pass before before concrete action was taken. In June 1910 the Zeehan and Dundas Herald reported:

“At a meeting of the managers of the Linda Presbyterian Church, it was decided to invite tenders for the erection of a church. A considerable sum has been collected. The question of wood versus concrete was discussed at some length, and much was said in favour of the erection of a concrete building. By using concrete the exceptionally heavy upkeep is done away with. However, as little is known as to the cost of building with concrete, it was decided to ask for tenders for a wooden building, and also a concrete one; then the church managers would decide which class of building would be used. Tenders are invited in to-day's issue [of the Zeehan and Dundas Herald], and close one week from this date."

For reasons not known the building did not proceed. Then in January 1912 a decision was made to purchase land. It appears that a building stood on this site and that some consideration was given to converting it into a church. Another two years were to pass before construction began on a purpose build church. The foundation stone for the building was ceremonially laid on Saturday 17 January 1914 by Dr. Joseph Love, the medical officer of the Mount Lyell Mine:

By March 1914 building work was completed and the church was officially opened on Sunday 22 March. The Zeehan and Dundas Herald carried an extensive report on the opening services:

“On Sunday last the…church was opened under favourable and very pleasant conditions. The situation of the church is a commanding one, being a site which, until recently, was reserved for public buildings. It overlooks the town, and is not more than a couple of hundred yards or so from the post office. The church, which Is constructed of wood, is built on a substantial foundation of Huon pine blocks. It is well up off the ground, and the walls are slightly over 12ft. high. The main body of the church is 35ft. by 21ft. inside measurement, and there is a porch 8ft. by 8ft. ….The main building has six large Gothic head windows, the heads being, movable, thus providing excellent inlet ventilation….The inside of the building is lined throughout with double-jointed pine lining…The pews are Gothic design, with solid back and book-rest, made out of kauri pine, varnished. They were made by a Hobart company, and despite that they had to be handled eight or ten times they reached their destination with scarcely a scratch on any of them…”.

“The congregations in the morning and afternoon were large on both occasions, the church being comfortably filled, while at the evening service the seating was not sufficient, and some extra seats had to be procured. The services were conducted by Rev. Percy Hop., B.A , of Kirklands, Campbell Town, convener of the Tasmanian home mission committee,…..In the afternoon a special service for children was held. In this the preacher departed from tho usual order of service. He broke his address into three parts….The addresses, which were illustrated with catchy children's stories, kept the children's attention. A couple of verses of well-known children's hymns were sung between each little address, and the result was that at the close of the service the children were as attentive as they were at the the beginning…”.

With a short existence of less than four years, there is little more information about Linda’s Presbyterian church beyond notices of services and a patriotic service held in June 1915. In 1917 the last reported service was recorded by the Zeehan and Dundas Herald and presumably the church closed before the year was out.

At some point in the late 1920’s the church was removed to Queenstown where it was used as a hall and for Sunday school. The Linda church is still in Queenstown and it situated behind the town’s former Presbyterian church. As yet I have not taken a photograph of it and have used a Google street-view screen-shot of it taken from Mellor Street. Although the image is not clear it can be easily identified as the same building which appears in the black and while photograph of Linda taken around the time of the Great War.


Photograph of Linda c.1920 - Courtesy of Craig Broadfield (private album)

A detail taken from a photograph of Linda (see above and below) - Courtesy of Craig Broadfield (private album)

Photograph of Linda c.1920  showing the Presbyterian church's location- Courtesy of Craig Broadfield (private album)

The Linda Presbyterian church - now in Queenstown (image - Google street view)

Linda's location in relation to Gormanston - placenames.gov.tas.au

A general view of the Linda Valley (Libraries Tasmania NS6313-1-69)

The cemetery at Linda (undated) source: Libraries Tasmania NS3195-2-395

Sources:

Zeehan and Dundas Herald, Friday 18 June 1909, page 4
Zeehan and Dundas Herald, Wednesday 29 June 1910, page 4
Zeehan and Dundas Herald, Saturday 12 April 1913, page 4
Zeehan and Dundas Herald, Thursday 8 January 1914, page 4
Zeehan and Dundas Herald, Wednesday 21 January 1914, page 4
Zeehan and Dundas Herald, Monday 22 January 1912, page 4
Zeehan and Dundas Herald, Tuesday 24 March 1914, page 4
Zeehan and Dundas Herald, Tuesday 15 June 1915, page 4
Zeehan and Dundas Herald, Saturday 16 June 1917, page 4
Mercury, Saturday 14 October 1933, page 3

Comments

  1. The Presbyterian Church led the action to stop the playing of football on Sundays on the nearby Linda Reserve. For a while the Churches were successful: they had the support of the ground trustees (the Gormanston Council), Robert Murray (the resident Mt Lyell Mining Engineer) with the police enforcing a Council by-law.. Eventually democracy prevailed. A fight back led by Lyell MHA Jim Long and Linda shopkeeper Joe Triffett led to the by-law being found to be outside of Council powers. Sunday Football became a feature of community life in the Lyell mining communities. In staid Queenstown, many more years were to pass before football was played on Sundays

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  2. Thank you for this detail, I had not come across it before and it could be included in this history when I go through and update each post.

    ReplyDelete

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