No. 693 - Highclere - St Alban's Anglican Church Hall

Highclere is a small settlement about 18 kilometres south of Burnie in Tasmania’s North West. The settlement grew around a siding built in 1903 by the Emu Bay Railway Company. It was initially called Oonah Road Siding before this was changed to Highclere in 1922.

There were once two churches at Highclere, a Methodist church that opened in 1920 and an Anglican parish hall called St Alban’s. The ‘parish hall’ was located at the intersection of Menne Road and the Ridgley Highway opposite the Highclere State school. Both buildings have been demolished or removed. Highclere’s Community Centre now occupies the site of St Alban’s parish hall.

Anglican services were held the Highclere State school from early 1925. In November 1925 the Advocate reported:

“At a meeting held after the service in the local State school…..in connection with the Church of England, it was decided to purchase a site for a Church hall at Highclere. Since the formation of the congregation early in the present year [1925] very encouraging progress has been made, and a fine organ and various requisites for divine service have been purchased. A number of local residents have promised to contribute to the cost of a Church hall, and it is expected that the project will be put into practical shape before the end of the year”.

The plans to build a hall proceeded rapidly with the foundation stone for the building laid in a ceremony which took place on Sunday 31 January 1926 (although construction was already well advanced at this stage). In February, the Advocate reported:

“The cornerstone of the new Anglican Church Hall, which is being erected at Highclere, was laid on sunday last by the Hon. F. B. Edwards, who also presented the Sunday school prizes at the children's anniversary service, which was held in the State school building prior to the stone-laying ceremony. There was a crowded congregation, and the well-known children’s hymns which had been chosen for the anniversary service were heartily sung, several members of St. George's, Burnie choir helping in the service. Mrs. Gilley presided at the organ….The foundation stone of the Church Hall, which had been prepared and donated by Mr. C. N. Kemp, of Wivenhoe, was duly laid by the Hon. F. B. Edwards, who also gave a short and effective address, in which he stressed the value of the church to the community, and congratulated the people of Highclere for their enthusiasm and courage in setting out to build the hall….”.

There is no photograph or description of the building but given the speed in which it was erected, it was presumably a simple weatherboard hall. The building and its furnishing cost £250, of which £150 was loaned. The hall was officially opened on Saturday 13 February 1926. No record has survived of the opening ceremony and presumably the hall was dedicated to St Alban on this occasion, if not, then later in 1926, as it is referred to as St Alban’s parish hall from 1927 onwards.

The last reference I have found in the newspaper record dates to 1954 in a report by the Advocate:

“A working bee gravelled the area in front of St. Alban’s Church hall. Those assisting were Messrs. G. Presnell, E. H. and G. Huett and M. Barker. Three loads of cinders were purchased and a dance was held to help defray the cost. The church hall, which also serves for dancing and badminton and on wet days is used by the school children, is to be repaired”.

I have yet to establish when St Alban’s closed although this must have been well before the 1970s. The fate of the hall is also not know and I assume that it was either removed from site or demolished to make way for the brick Community Centre. Additional information and photographs of the hall is sought as I intend to update all the histories published so far. I can be contacted through this page or through my Facebook page "Churches of Tasmania" which is linked here: <Churches of Tasmania>

Notice of official opening in 1926 - The Advocate

The Highclere Community Centre stands on the site of sSt Alban's

A survey map of Highclere showing the location of the church hall and State school - Map supplied by and with thanks to Michelle Rena Stevens.

Sources:

Advocate, Tuesday 17 November 1925, page 3
Advocate, Saturday 20 January 1926, page 4
Advocate, Saturday 6 February 1926, page 4
Advocate, Thursday 11 February 1926, page 5
Advocate, Wednesday 21 April 1926, page 7
Advocate, Wednesday 25 August 1954, page 13




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