No. 873 - New Town - Pirie Street - The Old Wesleyan Chapel (1859-1866)

New Town is a northern suburb of Hobart. It is also one of Hobart’s oldest suburbs and consequently the area contains many historic churches. New Town became a municipality in 1907 but was absorbed into Greater Hobart in the 1920s when its municipal status was relinquished.

In the late 1850s, New Town’s first Wesleyan Methodist chapel was built at a site on Pirie Street. (At the time it was referred as the “Back Road”). The chapel has long disappeared and little information about it survives. It was used for only seven years before it was replaced by the landmark Cross Street Methodist (Uniting) Church in 1866.

Methodist services were held regularly in New Town from the mid 1820s. In 1858 construction of a church began on land purchased from Mr and Mrs Bramwell. The building was officially opened on Sunday 5 June 1859 by Reverend W.A. Quick (of Horton College) and Reverend J. Cope, who preached at a morning and afternoon service.

While local newspapers reported the chapel’s opening, no description of the building was provided. However, when the church was sold in 1873, an advertisement for the auction described the building as standing on a quarter acre and having dimensions of 45ft. by 30ft. and a height of 14ft. 

After the church was vacated in 1866, there were difficulties in selling the property.  For this reason it was used as a venue for public meetings until it was eventually sold in 1873 to Mr F.B. Battle for a sum of £60. In the same year the church was converted into a residence and named "Wesley House".  

The photograph used in this article shows Pirie Street rising to the left of the Maypole Hotel. At the top left corner is a building with Gothic windows matching the chapel described in the 1873 advertisement for its sale. The chapel's location would have been in the general vicinity of Mary Ogilvie House. Wesley House was still standing in the 1920s but I have found no further record of the building after this date.

             Detail from a lantern slide showing New Town c.1873 - The chapel is visible in the top left. This is    
                    indicated more clearly in the photographs below. Source: Libraries Tasmania

                                               The old Wesleyan Chapel highlighted in red.

A detail of the photograph clear shows a chapel matching the dimensions of the building auctioned in 1873.

         A lantern slide of New Town c.1872.  Pirie Street is on the far right of the photograph. Source: TAHO -  
                                                                               Libraries Tasmania 

                                            The Hobart Town Daily Mercury Friday 3 June 1859

                                                     The Mercury, Monday 16 June 1873


The Hobart Town Daily Mercury Friday 3 June 1859, page 3
The Hobart Town Mercury, Tuesday 7 June 1859, page 3
Launceston Examiner, Thursday 9 June 1859, page 2
Launceston Examiner, Saturday 11 June 1859, page 4
The Hobart Town Mercury, Saturday 11 June 1859, page 3
The Tasmanian Times, Tuesday 29 September 1879, page 2
The Mercury, Saturday 12 October 1872, page 1
The Mercury, Monday 16 June 1873, page 4
The Mercury, Monday 13 October 1873, page 1
Mercury, Thursday 26 August 1926, page 3

Stansall, M. E. J & Methodist Church of Australasia (1975). Tasmanian Methodism, 1820-1975 : compiled at the time of last Meeting of Methodism prior to union. Methodist Church of Australasia, Launceston, Tas


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