No. 959 - Claremont - Congregational Church Hall (1915-1963)

Claremont is a suburb of the City of Glenorchy within the Greater Hobart region. It is named after Claremont House built in the 1830s by Henry Bilton. Claremont was once the site of an army training camp established during the Great War. At this time the area had only a few scattered houses and a railway station in a largely rural setting. From the 1950s public housing was built at Claremont which resulted in significant population growth.

The Congregational Church was first active at nearby Hestercombe in the 1830s. In 1911 a site for a Congregational Mission Hall was purchased at a junction adjacent to the Claremont Recreation Ground. From 1913 services were conducted in a private house before being transferred to the Claremont school.

The foundation stone for the Mission Hall was ceremonially laid on Wednesday 10 March 1914. The Mercury published a brief report of the event:

“The stone of the Congregational Mission-hall at Claremont was laid on Wednesday afternoon by Rev. W. Perry Hart, a former pastor of New Town, assisted by Revs. E. Handel Jones and H. Perkins. The present minister (Rev. W.H. Rayner, B.A.) presided….As a result of an appeal for funds £36 was raised. After the ceremony Mr. Hart was presented with a silver trowel, suitably inscribed….”.

Construction was completed within a matter of months and the Mission Hall was officially opened on Thursday 10 June 1915.

The Hestercome Congregational church and the Claremont Congregational Hall were associated with the New Town Congregation church until 1926 when they formed a seperate Claremont parish. In the late 1950s the Claremont Methodist Church on Abbotsfield Road began to work together with the Congregationalists and services were held in the two churches on an alternate basis.

With the construction of the Brooker Highway the Methodists, with the support of the Congregationalists (and Presbyterians), built a new church on Wydenham Road in 1963. The old Methodist church was removed to Winnaleah while in 1967 the old Congregational Hall was moved and placed behind the new Methodist church (facing Bristol Road) where it was used as a church hall.

The original Congregational church hall still stands behind the Claremont Uniting Church however a cement brick veneer obscures the century old hall which lies within. I have not yet found a photograph of the original Congregational church and my hope is the publication of this article might result in one coming to light.
The Claremont Uniting Church Hall on Bristol Street was previously the Claremont Congregational Church Mission Hall. It was moved to this site in 1967.


The three windows are the only visible clue of the old Congregational Hall which is now covered in cement brick veneer. Much of the original timber structure interior is preserved within.



The approximate original site of the Congregational Mission Hall (Google street view image)

A detail of a map showing the location of the Mission Hall at the intersection leading to the Claremont railway station. The former St Alban's Anglican church is located at the other end of the Claremont Recreation Ground.  Source: Libraries Tasmania AF718/1/521


Sources:


Mercury, Friday 12 March 1915, page 6

Sharples, Theo E. and Congregational Union of Tasmania.  Congregationalism in Tasmania, 1830-1977 : a brief history / compiled by Theo E. Sharples  Congregational Union of Tasmania Hobart  1977


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