No. 1085 - Davey Street Congregational Church Sunday School (1884)

This entry is the first of a series of articles concerning buildings associated with some of Tasmania’s most significant churches. These buildings include Sunday schools, parish halls, convents, schools and residences of the clergy. Ancillary buildings are often overlooked and are rarely featured in published histories. My aim is to create a simple record of some of the most significant of these buildings, including some which no longer exist.

The Davey Street Congregational Sunday school was located on Harrington Street. The building’s foundation stone was laid on Friday 29 March 1883. The school was officially opened on Sunday 22 June 1884. The following report, published in the Tasmanian News, contains details about the functioning of the Sunday school and its design:

“The new Congregational Sunday-school, which has recently been erected in Harrington street, at a cost of £4000, was opened by the Rev. Geo. Clarke. The building has been 18 months in the course of erection, and the corner stone was laid early in April last .by the Rev. Geo. Clarke, minister of the Davey street church. The builder was Mr James Gregory, and the architect Mr H. R.

Bastow. The outside appearance of the school is very attractive, Mr C.E. Walch, the superintendent of the school, has shown great energy and zeal in connection with the erection of the building, which is a credit to the city as well as the colony.

The new school, which near the corner of Davey street [and] Harrington street, is fitted up on a very superior scale, and is considered one of the best in the colonies….At the end of the building is the superintendent’s platform, which is very roomy and nicely fitted up, being elegantly carved and painted. At the back of the platform is the superintendent’s private room, which is entered by a door from the platform. Over the latter is the text in gold, letters, on a board covered with crimson cloth, “Prosper thou the work of our hands."

On the ground floor along the sides arc twelve separate spaces for boys, divided off by crimson curtains. On the ground floor 400 children can be seated, and in the gallery 200, so that when the building is full it will hold about 800 people. In the front of the building, just inside the door, is a lobby for the children's umbrellas end cloaks, and in the centre, facing the superintendents desk, is the librarian and secretary’s room, which is fitted up with all the latest improvements.

The gallery is approached by a staircase on either side of the superintendents room, where there are 15 separate classes for girls divided off as the ones below. At the end of the gallery is an extra platform from which the main building and gallery can be addressed.

The infant’s class, which is at the back of the gallery, is very neatly fitted up with a fixed gallery capable of accommodating 100 children. The boys enter the school at the door nearest Macquarie street, and the girls nearest Davey street. The children all assemble in the centre of the building, and after the opening service, all disperse to their respective classes. At the back of the superintendent’s office are two Bible-class rooms, one for young men and the other for young women, each capable of accommodating about 30. Along the staircase on the ground floor on either side are two small retiring rooms, with lavatories for gentlemen and lady teachers. The outbuildings are made of corrugated iron, and the boys are divided off from the girls' portion by a high standing permanent fence. …”.

At present the school numbers 260, with 26 teachers and officers. Mr C. E . Walch is the superintendent and has held that position for upwards of 22 years, and has always displayed great energy in the discharge of his duties.

In the afternoon, at the opening cere­mony, the building was crowded with a number of children, as well as their parents and friends. The proceedings were commenced by the Consecration prayer being offered up by the Rev. Geo. Clarke, and by the children rendering a hymn in very nice style. After a portion of scripture had been read, a hymn sung, and another prayer, the Rev. G. Clarke and Mr Chas. E. Walch, the superintendent, spoke. When the collection had been taken up, the Hon. W. R. Giblin delivered an appropriate address…”.

The building no longer exists. In 1969 the hall was sold but the purchasers were forced to have it demolished since it was impossible to have the building altered to meet the requirements of the City Council by-laws. The foundation stone of the hall was moved to the front of the Davey Street church. 

The Sunday school building on Harrington Street - photo: Libraries Tasmania

The site of the Sunday school on Harrington Street (Google street-view)

Davey Street Congregational church - photo: Frank Knight Real Estate


Mercury, Friday 30 March 1883, page 3
Tasmanian, Saturday 31 March 1883
Tasmanian News, Monday 23 June 1884, page 2

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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