No. 999 - Tullah - St Andrew's Anglican Church (1912-1982) - "Not cost one penny"

Tullah is a small town on the Murchison Highway approximately 110 kilometres south of Burnie. It was established in 1900 as a remote mining settlement called Mount Farrell. In the 1970s Tullah was used by the Hydro Electric Commission to house workers engaged in the various parts of the Pieman River Power Scheme. At this time Tullah’s population peaked at 2500. The town is divided into two sections; the older northern mining settlement and the newer southern part developed by the Commission. Four churches were built at Tullah representing the Methodist, Catholic and Anglican denominations. These have all closed and in recent years were replaced by the Tullah Community Church.

St Andrew’s Anglican church opened in December 1912 but was only consecrated in the following year. A report in the Mercury records the first service taking place on Sunday 15 December:

“The first Sunday service has been held in the new Church of England. The building, which is 37ft. long, is not quite completed, and will be officially opened later on, but this service was taken by Mr. H. Priestley (lay reader), who has taken a very great interest in the church, and has materially assisted in its erection. He was anxious to hold his last service in the building prior to leaving the district. It is understood that he is to receive promotion in the Education Department”.

The premature opening also provided an opportunity for the first wedding to be held in the church which took place on Thursday 19 December:

“On Thursday evening the first marriage in the new Church of England, Tullah, was celebrated by the Ven. Archdeacon Richard, when Mr. Charles Thomas, jun., was united in the bonds of matrimony to Miss Florence Hutchison. The church was crowded to the doors. Mrs. Priestley played the wedding march on the organ…. After the ceremony the guests, numbering about 150, were sumptuously entertained by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Thomas, sen., at the Academy of Music, which had been beautifully decorated. The Tullah Brass Band was also in attendance and discoursed sweet music”.

St Andrew’s was only dedicated two months later by Bishop Mercer on Monday 3 March 1913. The Bishop’s visit to Tullah coincided with the church’s first confirmation service. A report published by the North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times provides a description of the event:

“His Lordship the Bishop of Tasmania, accompanied by Archdeacon Richard, visited Tullah, and at night held a confirmation, service, when two candidates presented themselves for the laying on of hands. A dedication service was then held, when the bishop dedicated the new church building. The bishop, in his address, said he had dedicated many beautiful churches which had cost a lot of money, but none had given him more genuine pleasure than the one he was now setting apart for the worship of God, as the circumstances surrounding the building were unique, from the fact that it had not cost one penny for labor, as it had been erected by church workers in their spare- time…. Much regret has been expressed at the loss of two earnest church workers who have left the district— Mr. H. F. Priestley, who has gone to Upper Castra, and Mr. W. G. Scott, to Zeehan; both of these have acted as lay readers for some time past, and their loss will be much felt….”.

The same report notes that the new weatherboard building included a a sanctuary, vestry and entrance porch and that it was ‘pine lined’ and that 50 chairs were provided for seating.

Following an arsonist attack on the Tullah State school in August 1929, St Andrew’s was used as a temporary accomodation for the school. The church was in continual use for many years although over this time the building gradually deteriorated. In the late 1960s it was reclad with iron sheeting after regular services were revived during Tullah’s Hydro era. By the early 1980s services had ceased and the building was sold and dismantled.

St Andrew's at Tullah (undated) Photo provided - photographer and source unknown.

Source: QVM 1988:P:1040

An early map of Tullah - Source: Libraries Tasmania

Scenes from Tullah featured in the Weekly Courier (1917) The photos show a view of the township, the railway line to Tullah with the Dunkley Bros.' engine, Horse tram on the Mount Farrell Tramway and the Tullah rifle range. Photographer - J. Robinson 


Examiner, Wednesday 25 December 1912, page 5
Mercury, Wednesday 25 December 1912, page 8
North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Wednesday 5 March 1913, page 2
Examiner, Friday 7 March 1913, page 7
The Weekly Courier, Thursday 19 April 1917, page 19
Advocate, Saturday 17 August 1929, page 6

Henslowe, Dorothea I & Hurburgh, Isa Our heritage of Anglican churches in Tasmania. Mercury-Walch, Moonah, Tas, 1978.


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