No. 893 - Devonport - Little Rooke Street Anglican Mission Church (1887-1906)

Devonport was created from the merging of two towns in 1890 on opposite banks of the Mersey River; Formby on the west bank and Torquay on the east bank. The area was first settled in the 1840s.

While an Anglican church was established at Torquay (East Devonport) in the 1860s, Formby (West Devonport) lagged behind and only acquired a ‘permanent church’ in 1906, although Anglican services were held regularly from the mid 1880s:

“Several denominations have held divine service in Formby for some time past, the church of England alone being unrepresented till now. Yesterday, (Sunday), the Rev. Mr. Hogg officiated to an overflowing congregation at the school-room in Formby. These supplementary services are to be regularly continued, as they evidently meet a great religious want”. (The Examiner 1885)

By 1886 plans were underway for the construction of a temporary Anglican church:

"A growing necessity is felt for the erection of a permanent Church of England, especially as the temporary accommodation afforded is about to terminate. Stronger efforts are being made to attract subscriptions, and to make an announcement of the work. The result of the last meeting was that application for plans for the edifice has been made in Melbourne… the necessary site having been handsomely presented by the family of Mr. B. Thomas…” (The Examiner March 1886)

In April 1886 the Daily Telegraph reported that the “Church of England is about to start building”. A year later a ‘temporary church’ facing [Little] Rooke Street was completed in May 1887:

“The completion of this structure is now drawing to a close, and the church-going public of Formby will be provided with an edifice, the want of which has been greatly felt. For some time past the schoolroom belonging to Mr Marsden has served the purpose very well… The nice little structure, which faces on Rooke street, is intended to serve the purpose of a Sunday school, as well as a church, and when the time arrives a church will be erected on a much larger scale and the new erection be used entirely as a schoolroom. The structure is 36ft x 20ft, and the walls are plastered and wainscoted 3ft 6in high…. [Mr Beale] has presented a coloured window to the church, which will be at the back of the chancel, for which a low platform has been placed”. (North West Post 12 May 1887)

The Mission Church, as it was known, was officially opened on Sunday 15 May 1887:

“Opening services were conducted at the new Mission Church of England… by the Rev. W. Hogg, at 7 in the evening. A large congregation assembled. The singing part of the service was nicely rendered by the choir, Miss Cowle presiding at the organ…. The Rev W. Hogg read the service, and the choirs of the Mission church and St Paul’s, Torquay, helped in the musical part…”

Although considered a temporary structure, the building served the Anglicans of West Devonport for 20 years. Lack of finance delayed the opening of a “permanent church” until February 1906 when the foundation stone for ‘St John the Evangelist’, located on Fenton Street, was laid by Bishop Mercer.

The new church was built on a different site due to dissatisfaction by members of the congregation with the Little Rooke Street site:

"Years ago it was a commanding one, but the progress of the town has shut it out from view, and a proposal [was put] before the authorities for an exchange of sites whereby the church would gain a better position".

In about 1960 the old Mission Church was removed from its site on McFie Street (previously Little Rooke or Upper Rooke Street). The building thereafter fell into a state of disrepair after being used as a garage for many years before it was eventually pulled down.

         West Devonport's original Anglican church - located on Little [Upper] Rooke Street. Now McFie    Street. The building no longer exists.  Photograph courtesy of the Devon Historical Society - supplied by Helen Falconer . 

        An early aerial photo of West Devonport (c.1922) showing Little Rooke Street (now Macfie Street) -       
                                                                   Source: Libraries Tasmania

       A detail of the photograph.  Little Rooke Street is marked by the red line, the Anglican Mission church 
       circled with the broken red line; the Methodist church is circled in green and the original Steele Street 
       Salvation Army hall is circled by the yellow line.


Sources:

The Examiner, Saturday 16 May 1885, page 1
The Examiner, Wednesday 3 March 1886, page 3
The Examiner, Saturday 13 March 1886, page 3
The Daily Telegraph, 1 April 1886, page 3
North West Post, Thursday 12 May 1887, page 2
North West Post, Tuesday 17 May 1887, page 2
North West Post, Thursday 9 April 1891, page 2
The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Monday 24 June 1901, page 2
The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Thursday 16 March 1905, page 2













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