No. 894 - New Town Methodist (Uniting) Church (1866-2004)

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. [see No. 873] It was used for only seven years before it was replaced by the landmark church at the intersection of Cross Street and the Main Road.

The foundation stone fo the new church was ceremonially laid on Thursday 21 December 1865. The Hobart Mercury reported:

“The foundation stone of the New Wesleyan Church at New Town was laid yesterday afternoon by Mr Alderman Barrett. The weather was anything but favourable, although at the time appointed for the ceremony, (4 o'clock), the rain ceased, and the remainder of the afternoon was fine. The attendance (as expected) was limited, but among those present we observed several ladies. ….The foundation stone of this Church was laid in the name of the Holy Trinity and in commemoration of the jubilee of Wesleyan Methodism in Australasia on the 21st day of December, A.D. 1865, by Mr Alderman Barrett, in the 29th year of the reign of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria.… The stone was then lowered into its place, and Mr. Barrett declared that the foundation stone of the Jubilee Church, New Town, was laid in the name of the Holy Trinity….”.

The church opened for its first services on Sunday 26 August 1865. Three services were held on on the day:

“That in the morning was conducted by the Rev. Mr. Quick, and those in the afternoon and evening by the Rev. Spencer Williams. A large booth, capable of accommodating 400 people, was erected in the church grounds, but so great was the crowd at the tea meeting held to celebrate the opening, that it was found necessary to provide two sittings”.

The completed church was described in an article published in the Tasmanian Morning Herald:

“A neat and pretty little chapel has just been erected by that indefatigable religious community—the Wesleyans—on the southern side of the main road in the beautiful suburban locality of New Town….It is quite an object of attraction…It presents an elegant and chaste appearance, as a specimen of church architecture, the style of which is that of the Gothic, of the 14th century very admirably contrived. The building contains a nave of 55 feet long and 25 feet wide, also transept, communion, vestry, and class room. The walls which are 17 feet high, are of stone from the Risdon quarries. The timbers of the roof are seen from below. They are perfectly plain, yet so designed that they may easily, at any future time, have added to them, the ornamental pendants, brackets, and ribs. The principal windows are divided by stone mullions, and ornamental bracings….The windows are filled with lead lights. The glass is nicely stained by various tints of crimson and blue….The Chapel is capable of providing seat accommodation for three hundred. It was built after a design by Mr Rowntree,…the builder was Mr R. Wiggins…”.

The construction of a parsonage was completed in 1884 and in 1894 a Sunday school building, costing £800, was erected at the rear of the church. Numerous memorial windows were placed in the church in 1908. The church witnessed considerable development over the years with the ‘Eileen Brownell Memorial Hall” completed in 1928 and further extensions were building in the 1960s as part of the “Centenary Plan”. A new parsonage was built at 17 Cross Street in 1961.

In 1977 the New Town Methodists elected to join the Uniting Church but this did not arrest the challenge of an ageing and shrinking congregation. The final service in the church was held on 7 November 2004 before the sale of the buildings. The church is now the premises of an antique business. 

            The New Town Methodist Church (1920) Photographer: C.P. Ray - Libraries Tasmania



                                        The Sunday school hall behind the church (Cross Street)




The Cross Street Sunday School - Source: Libraries Tasmania 

           The New Town church's Honour Board was removed to the North Hobart Uniting Church
                                                           Photo credit: Arthur Garland

Sources:

Mercury, Friday 22 December 1865, page 2
Tasmanian Morning Herald, Wednesday 29 August 1866, page 3
Tasmanian Morning Herald, Monday 3 September 1866, page 2
Mercury, Thursday 26 August 1926, page 3

Stansall, M. E. J. and Methodist Church of Australasia.  Tasmanian Methodism, 1820-1975 / [by M.E.J. Stansall ... et al]  Methodist Church of Australasia Launceston, Tas  1975












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