No. 712 - Yolla - St Mary's Anglican Church (1911-1998)

Yolla is small rural town on the Murchison Highway approximately 20 kilometres south of Wynyard. When first settled in the late 19th century the area was named Camp Creek but this was changed to Yolla in 1906.

Yolla’s Anglican church was originally established as a Mission Hall, opening on Sunday 27 August 1911. The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times published a lengthy report which provides an account of the establishment of the hall: 


“That the people of Yolla can “do” things was amply shown on Sunday and Monday last, when the new hall was opened for public use, on the Sunday for divine service and on Monday afternoon and evening for social gatherings”.


“The Church of England's adherents had for some two years or so been endeavouring to secure a building in which their services could be held, and a determined band of willing and energetic workers decided to build a place which would not only accommodate themselves for public worship, but which would meet a long felt need in the form of a public hall for entertainments. etc. Some half-dozen families, assisted by other friends, undertook the task of procuring the necessary material and actually cut the logs for the timber, carted them to the nearest sawmill, and when prepared the timber was again carted to the site. Stones for the foundation were also sledged from gullies and hills and placed ready for the builders, and when all was ready a contract was let for the erection”.

“The building occupies a very central position in a thriving township, being nearly opposite the Yolla butter factory. Its dimensions are 40ft. bv 21ft and its appearance adds considerably to the aspect of the place. As Sunday was the last day in which the Anglican rector of Wynyard parish (Rev. C. C. MacMichael) would be conducting divine service prior to his departure for Beaconsfield, special efforts were made to get the building finished so that he should be the first to conduct the service there, he having been the chief instrument in moving for its erection”.

“When he arrived for morning service and holy communion a large congregation greeted him, and 14 members received their first sacrament in their own place of worship. Monday was quite a red letter day in the annals of Yolla, as judging by the numbers present in the afternoon and evening few indeed for many miles around could have been left at home, and for once the cry of 'milking time’ must have gone unheeded. When the rector, accompanied by Mrs. MacMichael and one of the Wynyard church wardens, Mr. B. Horton, arrived at 8.30 for the purpose of opening the hall publicly, a large gathering of residents had already assembled. Mr. Harnett, the local churchwarden, called upon the rector to declare the hall open”.

“The Rev. MacMichael prefaced his remarks by showing the difficulties which had to be surmounted to enable them to build the structure he had been privileged to witness the completion of and but for the band of noble men and women men who had so loyally supported the movement… He wished specially to thank Messrs. Old Bros., for the valuable site on which the building stood, and Messrs Harnett, King, Bugg, Wells Captain Bell, and many others who had done such splendid work, not forgetting the ladies associated with the movement, who had worked for its object so remarkably well.…”.

“Mr. Harnett gave a resume of the proceedings from the inception of the movement up to the crowning act performed that day, namely, the completion and opening of a hall which would mark a new era in the social life of Yolla….The rector then declared the building open, stating its primary uses were, first, as a mission hall, in which they could worship; secondly for Sunday school teaching for the children, and then for social gatherings, of which he trusted there would be many in such a splendid district…”
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Eleven years after the Mission Hall’s opening, an important milestone was reached when the hall was consecrated as St Mary’s Anglican Church. In November 1922 a report in the Advocate noted:

“The building which is now known as the Parish Hall, which is the property of the Church of England, will in future be used for church purposes only. Extensive alterations are about to be made, and the bishop of Tasmania is expected to visit the district…to conduct the consecration ceremony….”.

The hall was dedicated to St Mary on Sunday 3 December 1922 by Bishop Robert Hay. Over the years the building was further modified including a vestry which was built and dedicated in 1972.

Like many rural centres, Yolla has suffered a gradual decline in population and ageing congregations. In 1998 St Mary’s closed and the building was sold after the final service was held in December of that year. The church was later removed from its site.

St Mary's Anglican Church at Yolla - an undated photo - original source not known


Sources:

North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Saturday 2 September 1911, page 4
Advocate, Friday 3 November 1922, page 4
Advocate, Tuesday 21 November 1922, page 4

Henslowe, Dorothea I and Hurburgh, Isa Our heritage of Anglican churches in Tasmania. Mercury-Walch, Moonah, Tas, 1978.



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