No. 1084 - New Ground - Church of Christ Meeting House (1880)

This is the third in 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.

New Ground is close to the town of Latrobe in Tasmania’s North West. New Ground was originally granted to Captain B.B. Thomas who was brutally murdered at Parker's Ford near Port Sorrel in 1831. New Ground and adjoining Northdown were once a populous agricultural district. Early settlers had diverse religious beliefs and a number of churches were established in the area. At New Ground a group of evangelical Christians established one of the first churches of the ‘Church of Christ’ in Tasmania.

In 1865 Richard Fairlam and his wife Eliza, formerly of East Brighton Victoria, settled at Northdown where they started a Christian fellowship. In 1872 the fellowship moved from Northdown to Latrobe. In April 1879 Mr William Moffit visited New Ground where he preached and a gathering of people were baptised:

“On Sunday…two addresses were given at Mr Barnes’s, Northdown, by Mr Stephen Piper and Mr W. Moffit, after which eight persons were immersed”.

Following this a move was made to erect a ‘meeting house’ at New Ground. A church was built and a little over a year later was officially opened on Wednesday 17 November 1880. A report published in the Devon Herald provides a record of the event:

“Those who have lately travelled through the New Ground may have noticed a new building on Mr Addison’s ground, close to the road. This opened on Wednesday last…., a substantial dinner being provided for all comers. On arriving at one o’ clock we found a “welcome” in large letters over the barn door, and a hearty welcome inside where delicacies were arranged, and after thanks being sung, the good things were done justice to by all. At four o’clock the grown people numbering about 100, assembled in the new building while the young ones amused themselves outside. Mr Moffat began the meeting with a hymn, and then a brother led in prayer… Mr Fairlam spoke on the Restoration of Christianity….Mr S. Piper spoke fully on the motto of the evening, the words of the Lord Jesus, “Learn of me”… Mr Webb, the contractor, spoke few words… One unusual feature of this tea meeting was there being no money taken for the refreshments, nor any collection after. It was announced that the Gospel will be preached on Lord’s Day evening next, at half-past six”.

In 1881 William Moffit left for Port Pirie in South Australia. However he returned to the New Ground church in 1906 where he preached for a time until his death in 1911.

The date of the New Ground church’s closure is not known. I have yet to establish its location but it was probably in the vicinity of the small settlement at Moriarty.

Devon Herald, November 1880

Richard Fairlam's headstone at the Latrobe cemetery - photo: Mike Clark

A map showing New Ground - the district would have included Moriarty in the 19th century.

Addison's house at Moriarty/New Ground c.1880. The church was built on Addison's property. Source: Libraries Tasmania - item number: PH30-1-3392


Devon Herald, Wednesday 9 April 1879, page 2
Devon Herald, Saturday 20 November 1880, page 2
Devon Herald, Saturday 27 November 1880, page 3
Devon Herald , Saturday 12 November 1881, page 2
North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Friday 12 May 1905, page 3
North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Friday 26 October 1906, page 2


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