No. 681 - Bridgewater - St Paul's Catholic Church

Bridgewater is situated on the eastern shore of the Derwent River and is a suburb of the Municipality of Brighton. A large Housing Department estate was built on the eastern side of the Midlands Highway between 1970 and 1980 however the older part of the settlement dates back to the 1830s when a convict causeway was built. The original name for this area was Green Point but this was changed to North Bridgewater. When the railway was built the name was again changed to ‘Bridgewater Junction’ but with time this was shorted to Bridgewater.

In the 1920’s there were concerted efforts to build a Catholic church in the old Bridgewater settlement. In the 1880’s Mr James Collin donated three-quarters of an acre of land to build a Catholic church but for reasons not known little progress was made for 40 years.

In March 1924, the short-lived Hobart newspaper, 'World', reported:

"The Catholic community at Bridgewater having no church nearer than Brighton, a distance of four miles, have decided that the district needs a church, and to achieve their object have set out on a campaign to raise the necessary funds for the erection of such a building".

Similarly, in 1924 and 1925 the Hobart Mercury published several reports concerning fundraising for a Bridgewater Catholic church. In February 1925 it was reported that “it is hoped very soon to have a suitable building erected free of debt”.

However, the church was never built. This is probably related to the destruction of St Matthew’s Catholic Church by fire in Brighton in 1927. As the nearest Catholic church to Bridgewater, fundraising was probably diverted to the cause of rebuilding St Matthew’s. 

Almost 60 years were to pass before a Catholic church was finally built at Bridgewater. However this was to be in the newly developed public housing suburb to the east of the old settlement. St Paul’s was officially opened on 8 April 1984. The church is of a modern design and adjoins Bridgewater’s St Paul’s Catholic Primary school.

Bridgewater is now home to new migrant communities and this has led to a revival of St Paul’s in recent years. This revival has also been amplified by new Catholic leadership, drawing in Hobart’s Philippine community. A recent and interesting article from the ABC can be found in a link below describing the dynamic, inclusive and progressive Catholic community at St Paul’s at Bridgewater.

* Unless indicated, all photographs are my own.

An aerial view of the new portion of Bridgewater.  St Paul's can be seen in the 'lower centre' of the photograph.  Source: Libraries Tasmania

Sources and links of interest:

World, Monday 10 March 1924, page 2
The Mercury, Monday 10 March 1924, page 5
The Mercury, Saturday 28 February 1925, page 15


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