No. 782 - Longford - Wesleyan Chapel (1837-1880)

Longford is an historical country town approximately 25 kilometres south of Launceston. The district around Longford was first known as the Norfolk Plains after the Norfolk Islanders who were resettled here in 1813. The town itself developed in 1827 and was originally called Latour. In 1833 it was renamed Longford, after the County Longford in Ireland.

The Longford Wesleyan movement began in 1834 under the guidance of Reverend John Manton of Launceston. The first meeting was held in ‘Lawrence’s barn’, on a farm adjoining ‘Northbury’. In 1837 a chapel opened in Wellington Street that was built on land donated by Joseph Heazlewood. A short report in the Launceston Advertiser provides a record of the occasion:

“On Tuesday last, the new Wesleyan Chapel at Longford was opened for public worship. The building is a very neat erection capable of accomodating 300 persons. A sermon was preached on the occassion by the Rev. Mr. Butters, Wesleyan Missionary, from Hobart Town…”.

The church was build on faulty foundations and this was to ultimately contribute to its demolition. Around 1856 a gallery was built in the church which was used by Sunday school scholars during services. By the 1870s the chapel had become unstable and the Methodist community decided that it was cheaper to build a new church rather than repair the old building. In July 1880 a new brick church in High Street (now the Uniting Church) opened.

After the old church on Wellington Street was demolished, a Sunday school building was constructed on the site of the original chapel in 1902. It was built in front of the original Sunday school established in 1846. The new building was constructed by J. and T. Gunn at a cost of £316.

A photograph or image of the original Wesleyan Chapel does not exist thus a photo of the Sunday school has been used in its place. Both the original Wesleyan Sunday school and the 1902 Methodist school still stand and have been converted into a private residence.

               The Sunday School built on the site of the original Wesleyan Chapel on Wellington Street in    
                                     1902.  Source: Libraries Tasmania LPIC147-4-278 (undated)

Sources:

Launceston Advertiser, Thursday 6 July 1837, page 3
Daily Telegraph, Monday 17 February 1902, page 3

150 Years of Witness (1834-1984) A pamphlet produced by the Longford Uniting Church (1984)

A Century of Methodism (1834-1934), Souvenir History, Booklet, G. Woolston & Son, Launceston (1934)

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