No. 1102 - Northdown - St James' Parish Hall and Sunday School (1909)

This entry is another in 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.

Northdown is a fertile agricultural district 15km east of Devonport. In 1826 the area was settled by Captain Bartholomew Thomas, who established the Northdown estate. Captain Thomas met a violent death in 1831 when he and his overseer, Mr Parker, were speared to death by a group of men from the ‘Big River tribe’.

St James’ was opened in May 1878 and the church and burial ground were consecrated on 30 January 1879 by Bishop Charles Bromby.

In October 1909 a Sunday-school and hall was opened by Bishop Mercer. The following report, published in the North West Post, contains details about the origins of the hall as well its function and design:

“The Bishop of Tasmania (Dr. Mercer) conducted a confirmation service at St. James' Church of England, Northdown, yesterday afternoon in the presence of a large congregation from all parts of the district. …In the evening a large audience assembled to witness the formal opening of the new school building. The Rev. Canon de Coetlogon presided. The new structure was favourably commented upon, and when the cathedral windows are fitted into position the hall will take its place amongst the many country religious buildings that have lately been erected to grace the North-West Coast…The hall will seat 100 persons, and is fitted with a platform and a large open fireplace, which will no doubt be put to good use in the many socials expected to take place in the building…. The building of a school room had been considered in Northdown for years past, but it was only recently the movement had taken tangible shape. The chief cause of this was the Girls' Friendly Society taking root in the place, and being excellently managed it increased so much in members that it had proved difficult to house the members. They felt the need of a building, and a meeting of the congregation was held, at which they decided to make a start with the hall. The result of their appeals was the pretty building which would prove useful to the inhabitants of the district, and he rejoiced that Northdown had such an excellent and useful school building. At the meeting they had only £7 in hand, but they were nothing daunted, and the members decided to call tenders for a building….They got from Mr S. Priest the excellent design, and Mr W. Shaw, of Abbotsham, secured the contract…”.


North West Post, Friday 15 October 1909, page 3



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