No. 962 - Claude Road Methodist Church (1890-1974) - "The Church in the Greenwood"

Claude Road is a rural settlement approximately 10 kilometres south of Sheffield centred on the Dasher River. The area has some history of some mining but logging was once a significant industry. The settlement once had a Methodist Church but the only tangible reminder of its existence is the Claude Road Cemetery.

The church opened in 1890 although Methodist services had been held in homes prior to this. A correspondent writing to the Colonist in September 1890 provides a rich source of information about the church’s establishment:

“…About five or six miles from Sheffield, on the road to Middlesex, you pass over the Dasher Bridge, and here, along and around the valley of the Dasher, a settlement has gradually been forming and rising into more notice and importance. ….For some years past services have been held in connection with the Wesleyan Church, and I think it has been in connection with those services that the name of Claude-Road has gradually been assumed and adopted. On Sunday last, the 7th inst., a long-felt want was supplied by the opening of a new church in which to hold the services, a hope being entertained that in the near future it may be utilised also as a public school for the children growing up around. The matter of erecting a building for this purpose has long occupied the attention of residents, and at last the difficulties have gradually been overcome, and with outside contributions, and liberal help in contributions and labor, etc., by the residents around, the church so far has been erected and opened free of debt".

"The building was erected by Mr G. Robson of Sheffield, and is a neat little structure 26ft x 16ft, of weatherboard, with blackwood facings, the shell only so far has been finished. I have been given to understand that the committee intend to have it lined with pine as soon as their funds will warrant it (and l am sure all who were at the opening services and felt the cold and draught would say the sooner the better) so if any of your readers feel inclined to send alonga little subscription, and help the committee out of their difficulties, I believe, it would be most thankfully received….The opening services were conducted by the Rev. H. C. Oldmeadow, who preached a most appropriate and interesting sermon from Psalm 5 and 7th verse to a most attentive, and considering the weather and roads, a fairly good congregation”.


In the same month a report in the Tasmanian provides details about challenges in the church’s construction:

“The building, though small and unpretentious… speaks well for the energy and liberality of the very sparse population of that neighbourhood. I understand the shingles were split, the blocks cut, and all the material put upon the ground by volunteer labour. To cart timber from the Nook mill at this time of year I should think -was a pretty considerable undertaking; in fact, I am told one of the drays broke down, necessitating unloading, repairing, and a second trip”.

A report published at the time of the church’s first anniversary 1891 reveals that the building was not entirely complete and that it was also being used as a day school:

“The trustees wanted to get another £25 or £30 to assist them in finishing the building, lining it with pine, painting, etc.; also to erect a chimney as the building was occupied as a day school”.

A later report, published at the time of the church’s 50th anniversary in 1940 provides further information:

“A milestone in the history of Methodism in the Kentish district will be reached to-morrow, when the 50th anniversary of the Claude Road church will be celebrated with jubilee services in the afternoon, and evening,…This little church is well known along the Coast, and many refer to it affectionately as "the church in the Greenwood," because it has as its background the wooded slopes of Mt. Roland, while it is framed on each side by the lovely foliage of the virgin bush. The actual history of the work goes back beyond the 50 years to the time when services were conducted under the hospitable roof of Mr. J. Cox, until such a time as the crowd grew so great that the necessity of a church building become quite plain. These services were conducted in turn by the late Rev. H. J. Lavers and a company of lay preachers, who included the late Messrs. Acklin, Spotswood, Oliver, Billing, Dellow, Rouse and Coleman and Messrs. C. Lord and O. Ridley. Mr. Chas. Lord is still a trustee of the Church”.

"The church building was erected largely by local effort, with some generous financial assistance from Launceston, and stands to this day as a monument to the faith and enthusiasm of the pioneers, … Any account of tho Claude Road church history would be incomplete without reference to the record of the Sunday school. Through this school have passed a succession of children, numbering many hundreds, who have always looked back with gratitude to the services of the company of teachers, who laboured in love for the Master. Among these teachers the names of the late Messrs. Alf Febey and Claude Rouse (killed in action) occur to one's memory, as well as the present superintendent (Mr. Rheuben Bramich), who has given over 20 years' unselfish service to the Church and school. It is hoped that to-morrow and again on Monday afternoon there will be many happy reunions of those who still regard Claude Road as "the church of their childhood.”

For over half a century the little church serviced the Claude Road community but as with the Methodist churches at nearby Barrington, Nook and Beulah, the departure of leading families from these settlements, as well as improvement in roads and transport, conspired to bring about their closure. The Claude Road church closed in 1974. At some point the building was removed from the site but I have yet to find out what became of it.

The Claude Road Methodist Church (undated photo): source Forward in Faith


Sources:

Launceston Examiner, Saturday 6 September 1890, page 7
Tasmanian, Saturday 13 September 1890, page 25
Colonist, Saturday 20 September 1890, page 24
Colonist, Saturday 31 January 1891, page 10
Examiner, Friday 22 September 1911, page 3
Advocate, Saturday 17 February 1940, page 2
Advocate, Friday 23 February 1940, page 6

Methodist Church (Tasmania), Sheffield Circuit, Forward In Faith, Sheffield Methodist Circuit Stewardship Canvass 1959, Devonport

Stansall, M. E. J. & Methodist Church of Australasia.  (1975).  Tasmanian Methodism, 1820-1975.  Launceston, Tas:  Methodist Church of Australasia









Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Welcome to Churches of Tasmania

No. 1058 - Strahan - St Finn Barr's Catholic Church (1900-2005)

No. 1035 - Lower Mount Hicks Methodist Church (1890-1972)