No. 650 - Magnet Methodist Church

The former township of Magnet is located at the edge of Tasmania’s Tarkine region. It developed around the Magnet Silver Mine in the shadow of the Magnet Mountain range. The settlement was mostly populated by workers from the mine. By the start of the Great War Magnet’s population peaked at about 500 with about 200 men employed in the mines. The township was connected to nearby Waratah by a narrow gauge railway. The area is now a popular fossicking destination and remnants of the settlement can still be found in the bush.

One of the best descriptions of Magnet dates back to 1928 although by this time the town was well past its heyday:


“Notwithstanding that the township of Magnet has been in existence for a period of over 34 years, it has not assumed any great dimensions in the way of population. It is generally viewed as a very remote village, or, in mining parlance, described as a dead end. The main buildings consist of a very cosy and comfortable public hall that does credit to the generous support accorded it by the local people. The hotel, which is not of city pretensions, is well conducted,….the churches consist of a Roman Catholic and Methodist, the last named being used at intervals for Anglican services”.


The Methodist presence in Magnet began in 1909 with the purchase of land to build a church. Fundraising by Magnet’s small Methodist community resulted in the construction of a modest corrugated tin building in 1912. Launceston’s Examiner published a short report on the official opening of Magnet’s first church on Sunday 4th August 1912:

“The Methodist Church at Magnet has been completed at a cost of about £120, of which only £15 remain to be paid off. All the money was subscribed by the Magnet church people. On Sunday last the building was opened with special service, Rev. F. S. Woods preaching at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. before good congregations. Special anthems and music were rendered by the choir, under the baton of Mr. Ellis. A concert was held on Monday evening, and was largely attended. Some 20 to 30 persons walked out from Waratah to be present. Mr. de Lautour (manager Magnet Silver Mine) was chairman, and gave a short address. The evening was well enjoyed by those present, proceedings terminating with a coffee supper…”.

An unusual aspect of this church was the close cooperation between the township’s Methodist and Anglican communities. While places of worship were often shared in smaller settlements, the Methodist’s at Magnet generously agreed to have the church modified to accomodate the needs of the Anglicans. In August 1926 the Daily Telegraph reported:

“For some time past the Anglican and Methodist congregations have been utilising the one church for the purpose of holding services, which is the property of the Methodists. In order to save the expense of building a new church the Anglicans have approached the Methodist authorities with a view of allowing them to erect a chancel in connection with the church, and they have given their consent, which, will meet all the requirements of the Anglican adherents for the time being”.

An Anglican church was never built at Magnet and within a few years of the church’s modification, Methodist services also ceased. One of the last recorded services took place in 1933 which was the "first evening service in many months” where the attendance was described as “moderate”. Shortly after this the church was closed and the building and the land was sold in 1940.

The church was dismantled but its bell was kept and was used in a new Methodist church established on Mount Road in Upper Burnie in 1951. Interestingly, the Mount Road church was the former Methodist church at Waratah. The Mount Road Methodist church closed many years ago but the building still stands. However the whereabouts of Magnet’s Methodist church bell is a mystery.


Reduced sized image for cover photo. Full sized below


The Magnet Methodist Church - The bell which was taken to Mount Road can be seen in the belfry.  Source: Libraries Tasmania

Sources:

Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 24 February 1909, page 3
Examiner, Friday 9 August 1912, page 7
Daily Telegraph, Thursday 26 August 1926, page 3
Advocate, Tuesday 11 July 1933, page 6
Advocate, Thursday 14 November 1940, page 2
Advocate, Thursday 29 November 1951, page 9


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