No. 728 - Beaconsfield Gospel Hall (1882-1898) - "Too freely ventilated"

The town of Beaconsfield, previously known as Brandy Creek, dates back to the late 1840s when small quantities of gold was discovered in the area. Commercial gold mining only got underway in the 1870s which led to a substantial growth in the town’s population. Brandy Creek was renamed Beaconsfield in 1879 in honour of Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield and British Prime Minister. By this time the reef was the richest gold discovery anywhere in Australia and virtually overnight Beaconsfield became Tasmania's third largest town.

As a mining boom town, Beaconsfield attracted a number of religious denominations with seven churches operating in the township at one stage. Amongst these was a gospel hall which was active from 1882 through to the late 1880s. Very little is known about this building and there are no reports in local newspapers about its construction or opening. The only record of the building’s location is a report in 1883 in Launceston’s Daily Telegraph which notes that “a large store is being erected next to the Gospel Hall”.

The Gospel Hall was connected to an “evangelical” group who called themselves “The Christians” and who seem not to be connected to the Christian Brethren. One of the preachers who visited the hall was George Grove, a Melbourne Evangelist who operated from a “Gospel Tent” in Launceston’s Elizabeth Street in 1886 and 1887.

The most substantial reference to the Gospel Hall relates to its use as the Beaconsfield public school until 1882. A report in the Launceston Examiner in 1883 recalled the difficulties of accommodating Beaconsfield’s school children:

“….As teachers they have had to contend with many difficulties, the principle one being the want of a suitable school-room…..the Town Hall, which was used for the purpose, was far too small, and not sufficiently ventilated. The children suffered much from the stifling atmosphere, and as a result many were withdrawn. The Gospel Hall was then secured, and though this was a great improvement on the Town Hall, still there was always a feeling that it was only temporary, and in addition it was rather too freely ventilated”.

From the Examiner’s report one must conclude that the Gospel Hall must have been a fairly substantial building and the reference to it being “too freely ventilated” is intriguing, suggesting that the structure might have been temporary. The last reference to worship taking place at the Hall dates to 1887 and thereafter the newspaper record falls silent. Then in March 1898 it is mentioned once more in the Examiner in advertisement for its sale by auction. What became of the building after this is not known

While the history of the Beaconsfield Gospel Hall is rather thin, it is nevertheless a part of the town’s history and it is also one more example of scores of Tasmanian churches that are barely remembered and have disappeared without a trace.

Weld Street Beaconsfield c.1900 - detail from a postcard - source/photographer not identified.

An advertisement in the Examiner (1882)
The last reference to a meeting at the Gospel Hall - The Examiner 1886

An advertisement in the Examiner (1898)


Sources:

The Mercury, Thursday 27 April 1882, page 2
Launceston Examiner, Saturday 10 June 1882, page 4
Launceston Examiner, Saturday 30 December 1882, page 3
Daily Telegraph, Tuesday 10 July 1883, page 3
Launceston Examiner, Friday 28 December 1883, page 3
Launceston Examiner, Monday 20 December 1886, page 3
Launceston Examiner, Thursday 4 March 1898, page 8

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