No. 1083 - Western Creek - Anglican Church

I will be posting a series of short articles about minor churches that have left little trace in the historical or photographic record. Among the objectives of this blog is to create a definitive catalogue of all churches and other places of worship that have existed in Tasmania since settlement. My hope is that the publication of basic details about these buildings might result in further information and photographs coming into the public domain.

Western Creek is rural district approximately 25 kilometres southwest of Deloraine. It is situated in the foothills of the Great Western Tiers. The locality was originally known as Dalebrook. Western Creek was the site of one of the first water-powered sawmills in Tasmania.

There is some uncertainty as to whether churches were ever built at Western Creek. Dorothea Henslowe (Our Heritage of Anglican Churches in Tasmania) states that Western Creek “is believed to have had a church at one time but it closed long ago”.

There is some evidence that other places of worship may have existed in the district. In 1897 a visitor to Western Creek wrote:

“Going towards Western Creek one comes to a new building which the brethren have built for a meeting-house”.

As far as I know, no Brethren churches were built in the region stretching from Caveside through to Meander. However it is possible that the “meeting-house” mentioned was short-lived and that no record of it remains. Another reference to a church at Western Creek is found in the records of a Deloraine Council meeting in 1912. These state:

The committee of the Western Creek Church building were given permission to remove [the] same to another site, provided they make good any damage done to the road”.

Aside from the issue as to whether a church or churches were built at Western Creek, it is not disputed that religious services took place. These were held in the local hall which was built in 1893. In February 1910 this building burnt down. A report in the Daily Post about this incident also reveals the buildings function:

“An unfortunate fire happened on Wednesday, resulting in the total destruction of the Western Creek Hall which was used both as a State school and Sunday school, also for [church] services. A spark from some burning scrub about 50 yards away caught the roof, and in about 10 minutes nothing was left but the chimney. Much credit is due to Messrs Sheen and Cunningham for saving the organ, teacher’s desk, and a few forms and desks…”.

The hall was replaced by the end of that year and the new building was officially opened on Wednesday 7 December 1910. A report at this time noted that “the building has been built mostly locally, the young men getting the logs to the mill”.

The replacement of the hall was a necessity given its important function as a meeting place, school and church. Church services resumed at the new hall as is evident from a report in the North West Post in August 1914:

“A largely attended Church of England service was held in the public hall…. when the Rev. G. Rowe preached to an attentive congregation. Mrs Jago presided at the organ, and the singing was excellent. Western Creek is now to have a quarterly service, which will be provided by the rector of Deloraine. This was the first service for four years, and much satisfaction was expressed at the service being restored”.

The Western Creek hall is now gone. The only tangible reminder of the hall and its church services is the Western Creek cemetery, where the names of the faithful on the headstones are witness to a once thriving community.


Western Creek cemetery - which was established in 1909. (my photo)


The Western Creek district (placenames.gov.au)


Sources:

Launceston Examiner, Friday 16 June 1893, page 3
Federalist, Saturday 17 September 1898, page 13
North West Post and the Emu Bay Times, Friday 28 May 1909, page 2
Daily Post, Tuesday 8 February 1910, page 8
Deloraine and Westbury Advertiser, Saturday 10 December 1910, page 4
Daily Post, Tuesday 13 December 1910, page 7
Examiner, Tuesday 15 October 1912, page 3
North West Post, Tuesday 11 August 1914, page 2

Henslowe, Dorothea I. and Hurburgh, Isa.  Our heritage of Anglican churches in Tasmania / by Dorothea I. Henslowe; sketches by Isa Hurburgh, 1978


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