No. 1132 - East Devonport - St Paul's Sunday School Hall (1902)

This entry is another in a series of articles about 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 basic record of some of the most significant of these buildings, including those which no longer exist.

Before its establishment in 1890, Devonport was preceded by two townships on either side of the Mersey River; Torquay on the east bank and Formby on the western side. St Paul’s Anglican church opened in 1879, replacing an earlier ‘church-school’ built in 1863. After 1879 this building was used as a Sunday school hall until 1897 when it was blown down in a gale.

The Sunday school hall was not replaced until 1902. The hall was opened on Wednesday 15 January and a report in the North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times describes the official opening of the building and provides details of its construction:

“Some five years ago the Anglican community suffered an unexpected loss by the demolition of their building in Drew street, East Devonport, which collapsed during a cyclone visitation. The building was erected in the early days of Torquay for church purposes, but after the erection of St Paul's it was devoted solely to the Sunday school. Since its destruction the school has met in the Devon Institute. Two or three years ago a start was made towards supplying the vacancy, but no practical steps were taken until recently when the rector and church wardens considered they had received sufficient promises of support to justify them in building new premises, and they commissioned Mr S. Priest, jun. to prepare the necessary plans, which have since been satisfactorily carried out by Mr S. Priest, sen., and the new building was first used for Sunday school last Sabbath”.

“The building is of Gothic design, and is in one room of 40ft x 24ft with a platform at the northern end of 9ft. At the entrance on the southern end the plans show a neat porch, but this has been deferred for the present. The building is of wood with an iron roof, ventilators being affixed at each end; the walls are of plaster, with wooden dado, the ceiling being also of pine; and it is situated to the northwest of St Paul's, running parallel with Church street, between the building and the cemetery, and is thus very conveniently placed near the sacred edifice”.

"An opening ceremony of a formal character took place yesterday afternoon, when Major Spilsbury was deputed to declare the building open for the purpose for which it was erected, which he accordingly did with a few appropriate remarks. The Rev J. K. Wilmer apologised for the absence of two church wardens, ….the rev. gentleman introduced Major Spilsbury, who, with a few appropriate remarks, and the ringing of the bell, declared the school open. After the opening ceremony the gathering developed into a cake fair, the proceeds of which will be devoted to the school building fund….”. 

St Paul's and the Sunday school. Undated. Libraries Tasmania


North West Post, Tuesday 25 May 1897, page 2
North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Thursday 16 January 1902, page 2


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