No. 743 - Ellenton and Cuprona - The Anglican Church (1907-1921)

The townships of Ellenton and Cuprona are situated about 15 kilometres south west of Penguin on the North West coast. The name Ellenton is no longer used and the area is now known as Cuprona. The two townships, which were a stone’s throw from each other were the product of a short-lived copper mining boom.

An article published in the North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times explains the origins of the Copper King Mine and the two townships:

“Three years ago there was a district boom in copper properties, and several local companies were formed to work ‘shows' on farm and Crown land in the Blythe— Stowport district. In those days the riches of the 'Copper King' made it the 'daddy' of the field, and it has since justified the confidence reposed in it. The property was then reached through Mr Charles Sice's farm, and the story goes that Mr Aubrey Sice discovered the hidden wealth quite by accident….Much money was sunk in it, and much time spent in negotiations for the floating of a large company to thoroughly develop it — [but] without satisfaction to the holders until an Adelaide syndicate inspected and obtained a 12 months option over the property…..The syndicate decided to take advantage of its option to purchase, and a company was floated ….—the Burnie Copper Mines, N.L., ….and thus it comes about that the rural placidity of six months ago has been replaced by the bustling atmosphere of a mining community. Right in the heart of the Blythe agricultural district a mining township has sprung into being— or rather two of them, Ellenton and Cuprona. The first fronts the main road and has so far been given the general preference of land buyers. It formed part of Mr C. Sice's farm, cut up into suitable blocks, and offered for sale on what are describe as very reasonable terms…. So far about 60 blocks have been disposed of and many of them have been built on. Indeed, Ellenton— a Sice family name— contains 80 or 90 homes and habitations of various descriptions— not substantial buildings, of course, but still establishing a wonderful contrast in the conditions of a few months ago. A well made road of 64 chains in length, and of a remarkably easy grade, considering the fall, has been constructed from the main road to the mine, and is proving of immense advantage. About half way down this road is the company's township, which has been called Cuprona— the Latin equivalent for copper. Here are situated also a number of houses, including those of the sub-manager, Mr Richards, and the manager, Mr Hancock, the latter being situated on a commanding elevation…”.

Wherever a mining “boom town” arises, soon afterwards, churches are established. Ellenton’s Anglican church began in the settlement’s billiard hall:

“A unique place of worship it used here once every, month, when the Rev W. Earle, Anglican minister from Penguin, conducts religious services in the local billiard' room. The attendances on the past two occasions have been about 40, and these seat themselves on the benches against the walls of the room. The billiard-table, although covered, is still the most prominent object in the room. The services are much appreciated by many residents, who are hopeful of having a place of worship on more orthodox lines before many months have elapsed”.

It did not take long for before a campaign for a “more orthodox” church was underway. In September 1907 the North West Post reported:

“A meeting was held at Mr C. W. Sice's residence last week of those interested in getting an Anglican Church built. The Rev. W, Earle was voted to the chair, and it was decided to erect a place of worship. General and building committees were appointed, and a subscription taken up in the room amounted to over £40,. besides support promised from the business men of the town. The size of the church will probably be 20ft by 35ft, and it will be of Gothic design with vestry. It was decided to leave the plans in the hands of Mr G. Doherty, and to have another meeting next Thursday, when tenders will be called for the erection of the building….”.

The church was built on “a commanding site south of the mine road” by local contractor Mr G. Doherty on land donated by Mr L. Clark and Mr C. Sice. It was officially opened on Sunday December 22 1907:

“The opening of the new Anglican Church at Ellenton took place on Sunday afternoon. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. C. H. Shedden, of Ulverstone, and the St. Stephens' choir (under the leadership of Mr Hynes) went from here. The church, which is not quite finished, was tastefully decorated by the Ellenton ladies. The service was well attended, the rector taking for his text Genesis xxviii., 21. A service is to be held every other Sunday, and every other Sunday at West Pine”.

A month after the church’s opening, Launceston’s Daily Telegraph described the booming township of Ellenton:

“With the ' exception of Zeehan, perhaps, no town has had so rapid a growth as Ellenton, which is the township for the Burnie copper mines, and situated some five miles up the Blythe River. Eighteen months ago there was only one farmhouse on the present site, and now there is a large town, containing between 300 and 400 people, two churches [Anglican and Methodist], a large hotel, post and telegraph office, and five or six stores, to say nothing of billiard saloons and boarding-houses. The mine, in which great faith is placed, at the present time looks splendid, and the ore won is rich”.

The “great faith” and optimism for Ellenton and Cuprona’s future was misplaced. By 1911 the mine had closed due to the poor quality of the copper ore. Although there were several attempts to revive mining activities these came to nothing. By the end of the Great War the settlements had melted away. In 1921 the Ellenton Anglican church was removed to South Riana where it was used as a church hall. In 1944, it was moved once again to West Pine where it became the Church of the Ascension.

The old Ellenton church is still at West Pine and a photograph of it at this location accompanies this article. However, with the church’s second move from South Riana, the building was significantly altered to the point where its resemblance to the original 1907 church is slight.

Additional information and photographs of the Ellenton church are welcomed as all articles will be updated. I can be contacted through this page or my Facebook page "Churches of Tasmania" which is linked here: <Churches of Tasmania>

The old Ellenton Church - or at least its timbers are now at West Pine - incorporated into the former Church of the Ascension. (my photograph)


North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Thursday 17 January 1907, page 2
North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Thursday 14 February 1907, page 4
Daily Telegraph, Saturday 2 March 1907, page 4
North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Tuesday 27 August 1907, page 2
North West Post, Monday 2 September 1907, page 2
North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Tuesday 3 September 1907, page 2
North West Post, Tuesday 5 November 1907, page 2
North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Saturday 9 November 1907, page 4
North West Post, Monday 18 November 1907, page 3
North West Post, Monday 23 December 1907, page 2
Daily Telegraph, Tuesday 24 December 1907, page 3
Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 15 January 1908, page 6
Advocate, Saturday 9 April 1921, page 3


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