No. 659 - West Pine - The Anglican Mission Hall (1895-1924) "Many will miss the old landmark"

West Pine is a small rural community situated midway between Ulverstone and Burnie and approximately 8 kilometres south west of Penguin. Situated west of Pine Road the area was originally called "Pine Road West" but was locally known as"West Pine” which was eventually the name officially adopted.

The history of the Anglican church at West Pine is complex but can be divided into three distinct periods:

1. 1895 -1924. The first church-school was built in 1895 and  burnt down in 1924.
2. 1925 -1944. The church was replaced by a parish hall which was similarly used for services and a State school.
3. 1944 - 2008. The parish hall was replaced by a church moved to West Pine from South Riana (Church of the Ascension). The church closed in 2008.


This article will focus on the first church and school, also known as the Anglican Mission Hall, built at West Pine in 1895. The Church of the Ascension will be the subject of a second article.

The first mention of a church at West Pine is made in an article published in The Tasmanian in January 1895:

“Several of the residents have turned out to help the Rev. Mr Earl, Church of England clergyman, to build a church and school on the West Pine opposite to Mr Groom’s. This is a step in the right direction, as a school is much needed, for it is sad to see and hear of children growing up in ignorance”.

A visit to ‘Pine Road and Pine Road West’ by “Rusty Cuss”* was published in Launceston’s Daily Telegraph in the same moth and this reveals more precise details about the new building:

“Opposite Mr Groom's (which is also the West Pine post office) we notice a lot of building material, and find that a new State school and Episcopalian church is about to be built. The buildings will consist of the school, a church which will measure 20 x 35, with a vestry 12 x 14, which will surely meet all the requirements of this part of the district for some years to come. The Rev. W. Earl has, with characteristic energy, left no stone unturned to ensure success, and as he has succeeded in obtaining donations of money, timber, stone, labor, and the building site, the cost of erection will be merely nominal. Pending the completion of the building, the State school is held in a building kindly lent by Mr F. Groom".

In addition to providing temporary accomodation for a schoolroom, Mr Groom had also donated the land for the church. Rapid progress was made with building the church-school and in April 1895 the North West Post’s local correspondent for West Pine reported:

“Our new Anglican church opened on Sunday [7th April], the Rev. W. Hogg officiating. It was a beautiful day, and there was a very large attendance. The new church is a roomy and substantial building, for which every credit is due to the Rev. W. Earl, for his hard work and energy in getting it erected, despite the bad times. There is no doubt the future is not far distant when he will have the new church thoroughly fitted up…”.

Over the next three decades the church and school are occasionally mentioned in local newspaper reports. Then, in December 1924 the church was back in the headlines following its destruction in a fire. The Advocate reported:

“On Thursday afternoon last, the Anglican Church in this district was totally destroyed by fire. For many years it has been used by the Education Department as a State school, and clearing up for Xmas vacation was being carried out by the children under the supervision of Miss Bray, the teacher in charge. The chimney fired and the roof, being shingled and very old, quickly caught fire. The day was hot and a wind blowing. Fortunately, assistance was quickly rendered by the Groom family, and a few things were carried out, including the church organ, but in a few minutes the building was demolished. It is nearly 30 years since the building was erected, the site being donated by the late Mr. F. C. Groom, and many of the present generation will miss the old landmark close to Sulphur Creek. The building was partly insured”.

As the church had provided accomodation for the State school it was a matter of urgency that the building was replaced. For the first five months of 1925, children at West Pine travelled to schools at Cuprona and Upper Blyth. By May, the “church authorities” had built an “up-to-date parish hall” which could accomodate the school and church services. The new parish hall was officially opened on 14 May 1925. 

The West Pine Parish Hall served as a place of worship for almost 20 years before it was replaced by a church moved from South Riana. The story of West Pine’s third Anglican place of worship, the Church of the Ascension, will be related in an upcoming article on ‘Churches of Tasmania’.

* The article by Rusty Cuss makes interesting reading for those interested in the history of this region. The original newspaper article in linked <here> .


The West Pine Anglican Mission Hall. (undated photograph) Courtesy Anglican Church of Tasmania

The location of the West Pine district in North West Tasmania - source: placenames.tas.gov.au


Sources:

The Tasmanian, Saturday 19 January 1895, page 22
Daily Telegraph, Monday 21 January 1895, page 1
Launceston Examiner, Tuesday 2 April 1895, page 3
North West Post, Thursday 11 April 1895, page 2
Launceston Examiner, Wednesday 24 April 1895, page 5
Advocate, Monday 15 December 1924, page 4
Examiner, Wednesday 17 December 1924, page 10
Advocate, Monday 6 April 1925, page 6
Examiner, Tuesday 7 April 1925, page 2
Advocate, Tuesday 5 May 1925, page 4

Stephens, Geoffrey and Anglican Church of Australia. Diocese of Tasmania, (issuing body.) The Anglican Church in Tasmania : a Diocesan history to mark the sesquicentenary, 1992. Trustees of the Diocese, Hobart, 1991.



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