No. 1138 - Pontville - Congregational Chapel (1857-1874)

Pontville’s origins date back to 1821 when Governor Macquarie selected a site on the Jordan River as the location for a military barracks. The origin of the name Pontville is unclear but it literally translates from the French as 'bridge town’. The village of Pontville was officially established in 1838.

The earliest Congregational services at Pontville were held at the local courthouse. They were led by Reverend Joseph Beazley, who had been appointed by the Colonial Missionary Society as minister at nearby Green Ponds (Kempton) .

In 1857 a small stone chapel was built above the banks of the River Jordan. It was located next to the old Congregational cemetery which was established in 1854. The chapel officially opened on Tuesday 16 June 1857. No description or image of the building is known to exist.

In early 1874 the foundations of the church began to subside making the building unsafe. The church’s trustees decided to build a new church on a site on the opposite bank of the Jordan River. While construction was underway religious services were temporarily held in the district police office.

Construction of the new church began in early 1875 and it was officially opened on 8 June 1876. After the new church was completed the old chapel was demolished and its stone was used to construct a ministers residence.


Notice of the chapel's opening - Hobart Town Advertiser, June 1857

The map shows the location of the original chapel (blue) and the new church (red)

The new church which opened in 1876

An early view of Pontville. The new Congregational church (1876) can be seen in the distance above the road descending to the bridge. Pontville's original Catholic church is also visible in the photograph. [source: Libraries Tasmania]


Sources:

Hobart Town Advertiser, Monday 15 June 1857, page 2
Hobart Town Advertiser, Thursday 18 February 1858, page 3
Mercury, Tuesday 30 March 1875, 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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