No. 646 - Pinewood Uniting (Methodist) Church - "A work of faith and a labour of love"

The former Pinewood church is situated on Pine Road and almost midway between the town of Penguin and the small settlement at Riana. It is probable that the area was named after the celery top pines that were logged in the once heavily forested district.

The Pinewood church is one of a handful of churches in Tasmania that was associated with the United Methodist Free Church, a breakaway denomination from the Wesleyan Methodists. Little information is available about the early years of the church. Methodist services began in the home of the Hooper family soon after the arrival of the first settlers in the late 1860s. The original church was built in 1885 on land donated by George Hooper and the building was erected by Mr Isaac Hall. In 1890 a school, known as the Ashwater school, was built on the western side of the church. The school building was the property of the church and was used as a State school until 1930. The building was used for a Sunday school until at least 1896 when the original Pinewood church was extended.

The earliest published reports about the church date back to 1888 and concern the annual anniversary picnic held in George Hooper’s paddock:

“The United Free Methodists celebrated the anniversary of the Pinewood Church on Wednesday last by a picnic held in a paddock kindly lent for the occasion by Mr. G. Hooper. Being a pleasant day there was a good muster of old and young, the financial result being about £10. The usual games incidental to these gatherings were entered into with great vigour and heartiness, a most enjoyable day’s outing being experienced by all present…”.

The anniversary celebrations became a popular community event with up to 200 people attending in some years. The Sunday school was also well supported with 37 children attending in 1891.

In 1896 the church was enlarged and the opening of the new building in December was reported by the Wellington Times and Agricultural and Mining Gazette; this is the first substantial report about the church itself:

“A correspondent writes:— The services in connection with the opening of the new U.M.F. Church at Pinewood took place on Sunday last when Mr Pollard, of Burnie, conducted the services preaching at a.m. 8 p.m. and 7 p.m. At each service crowded congregations attended, …On Monday the opening services of the new church were further celebrated by an all day "tea meeting", visitors beginning to arrive at an early hour in the day, and continued in a steady stream until towards evening, some 300 or 400 persons being then on the ground. The large luncheon booth at the rear of the church presented an animated scene throughout the day, the three long tables being repeatedly filled".

"The new church, as a matter of course, became the centre of attraction to all present, and as each relay of visitors entered the church one might hear again and again expressions of surprise and approval at the neat and well finished building opened for public worship. The building presents a very comfortable appearance. It is about 33ft by 20ft, inside measurement, with a nice roomy porch, a pair of green baise doors opening from the porch into the church. The building is lined throughout with blackwood and celery top pine; it is provided with comfortable blackwood seats, the rostrum railings and desk of the same material, and the whole being varnished has a very nice effect indeed. The building reflects great credit on the builder, Mr D. Hall, and the band of willing workers who have made the erection of the church a work of faith and a labor of love.…”.

The new church was built in front of the old building. The original church has now gone but it is clearly visible in the black and white photograph below. Another building can be made out in the background of the same photograph and this may be the Ashwater school.

The Pinewood church thrived and in 1935 its 50th jubilee celebrations were reported by the Launceston Examiner. A vestry was added to the building in 1955, coinciding with its 70th anniversary celebrations. In 1985 the centenary was attended by 200 people with the guest preacher being Reverend Tony Hooper, of Queensland, whose great grandfather had donated the land for the church.

In 1977 the church became a part of the Uniting Church, its second merger after the Methodist Union of 1902. Sadly, the church suffered the same fate as most rural churches and was closed and sold in the mid 1990’s. The church has been converted into a house which is now the only tangible reminder of the once thriving community that lived in the vicinity of the Pine Road church.






This photograph shows the original Pinewood church located behind the church built in 1896.  The building in the background may be the Ashwater school which was owned by the church.  Source: Photo posted by Narelle Howe (Gravesites of Tasmania FB Group) December 2018. Original source not known.


*All colour photographs are my own


Sources:

North West Post, Thursday 20 December 1888, page 4
Wellington Times and Agricultural and Mining Gazette, Saturday 5 December 1891, page 2
Wellington Times and Agricultural and Mining Gazette, Saturday 12 December 1896, page 3
Wellington Times and Agricultural and Mining Gazette, Saturday 14 December, page 2
Daily Telegraph, Thursday 21 December 1893, page 1
The Examiner, Tuesday 7 June 1927, page 2
The Examiner, Wednesday 4 December 1935, page 5
The Advocate, Monday 5 March 1985, page 4

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.


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