No. 705 - Cormiston (Riverside North) - The Church of the Holy Cross (1921-1964)

Cormiston lies at the northern end of the Launceston suburb of Riverside. The area is named after the farmstead Cormiston, which was established on the banks of the Tamar River by Scotsman Archibald Thomas in 1824. The farm once covered a large portion of Riverside before it was broken up into smaller farms including ‘Brownfield’ and ‘Cleghorn’ which are remembered in the names of roads in the area. In the 1860’s an artillery battery was erected on the farm in response to the “Russian scare” and guns were positioned to repel attacks from hostile Russian fleets attempting to approach Launceston by the Tamar River. Although the attack never materialised, the battery is immortalised in the name of another local road; Fort Street.

Methodist and Anglican churches were established at the settlement around Cormiston after the turn of the 20th century. Anglican services were initially held in the Cormiston State school until a building was acquired in 1921 to serve as a church. The origin of the building is not known but it was donated by Mr Thomson and converted into a small church. Launceston’s Examiner records the official opening of the church which took place on Wednesday 14 September 1921:

“Yesterday afternoon the new Church of the Holy Cross at Cormiston was dedicated by the archdeacon of Launceston, assisted by the Rev. E. G. Muschamp, rural dean, and the Rev. W. S. Williams, rector of Exeter. The building, which is situated on the main-road, about three miles from Trevallyn, is a very simple in structure, but will serve a long-felt want for the church people of Cormiston. The building has been put up by the energetic action of the rector of Exeter, who obtained a gift of land from Mr. Freeland, and a building from Mr. Thomson. The conveyance of the building to the spot, the new timber for its completion, the fencing of the land, and the furnishing of the Church have, by wonderfully good management, all been effected at the cost of £80, a sum at present defrayed by Mr. Williams, but which ought soon to be paid off by the local contribution. This district has been handed over to the rural dean, as it can be so much more easily worked from Launceston than from Exeter. Regular services will be provided by the clergy of the city, beginning next Sunday afternoon. At the conclusion of the dedication yesterday tea was served in the plot of ground in which the new building stands”.

The little church served the Anglicans of Cormiston until 1963 when it was replaced by St David’s Church, a large modern church that was built to meet the needs of the growing suburb of Riverside, which had by this time enveloped Cormiston. The old Church of the Holy Cross can be seen in the photograph alongside St David’s at the time of the church’s opening in 1964. Shortly after this the old church was pulled down and over the years has almost faded from local memory.



The Church of the Holy Cross - Courtesy of J. Branagan

The Church of the Holy Cross alongside St David's - The Church of the Holy Cross - Courtesy of J. Branagan

The once vast Cormiston Farm (Cormiston House on the horizon) which covered much of northern Riverside (1914). Photo: Victorian State Library - Spurling Photograph - A.C. Dreier Collection

Sources:

Examiner, Thursday 15 September 1921, page 6
Daily Telegraph, Thursday 15 September 1921, page 8
Examiner, Wednesday 15 March 1922, page 7
Examiner, Saturday 17 March 1928, page 8


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