No. 1160 - Lower Barrington Methodist Church (1890-1966)

Lower Barrington is a rural community located about 5 kilometres north of Barrington and centred on the junction of the Lower Barrington and Sheffield Roads. It was once a tramway terminus from where timber was railed to the Don River Company’s mill on the coast.

From the late 1870s Wesleyan-Methodists services were held at Melrose Creek, about a mile distant from Barrington junction. Here a rudimentary building was used as a temporary church. This building remained in use until 1889 as attempts to erect a new church at Lower Barrington came to nothing. In October 1889 the local correspondent for the Colonist reported:

“The Wesleyans of this district have been for 14 years trying to choose a site for a new church, and haven’t come to a decision yet. There is a pressing need for a new church in our midst, the present one being not at all suitable. We are very divided in our opinion as to the most suitable position for a new building; the district being so extensive, it is very difficult to find a site which would please the whole of the inhabitants. The Wesleyans, as a rule, are very progressive in their ideas, and it strikes me as being particularly strange that they should be 14 years thinking of leaving such a shattered old hulk as the present chapel undoubtedly is….”.

In January 1884 a building committee had been established under Reverend J. May to build a new church at Lower Barrington on land donated by Mr John Andrews. For reasons not known this did not progress and the Melrose Creek church continued to be used for another seven years. Little is known about the old church. It was a small and basic building according to Mr William Blackett who had visited the the church in the mid 1880s:

“In a few introductory remarks, [he] referred to a previous visit made some five years ago, when he officiated in the same building, although it had been considerably enlarged. At that time it was simply a hut, with a chimney in one end, the place being so crowded on that occasion that six or seven persons had to seek refuge in the chimney”.

In early 1890, a second building committee was formed by Reverend H.C. Oldmeadow, the resident minister at Sheffield. Soon after work began on constructing a new church at Lower Barrington on a site close to the Don Company Store. Members of the ‘Building Committee’ included John Andrews, James Barker; David and John Cocker and Samuel Marsden. A modest weatherboard church costing £100 was built by Mr P. Smith. It is of interest that a significant amount of £30 was donated by the Baptist benefactor, Mrs Gibson of Perth. It is probable that the Baptist community may have occasionally used the church before a Baptist church was built at Lower Barrington in 1915.

The church was officially opened on Sunday 27 April 1890 and the occasion is recorded in a report published in The Colonist:

“Fine weather favoured the opening of the new Wesleyan Church here on Sunday, April 27th, when the services were conducted at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. by the Rev. G. T. Heyward, and in the afternoon by the Rev. Mr Oldmeadow, the church being crowded on all occasions. The choir under the leadership of Mr Waterhouse, rendered some special hymns in a very creditable manner, Mrs Waterhouse performing at the organ with much skill and efficiency. …The church, although not quite finished, presents a very picturesque appearance, and the Wesleyan denomination are to be congratulated on erecting such a handsome little edifice”.

The subsequent history of the church is fairly unremarkable. One report, on a memorial service held at the church in 1918, serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by rural communities during the Great War:

“A service was held in memory of one of the local lads, Pte. Bert Ivory, who has given his life for the Empire. It was only twelve months since Pte. Ivory left, and he had only just reached the trenches. Though only a lad in years, he took a man’s place, and the large congregation showed the sorrowful feelings aroused at his untimely death….”.

In 1929 a public hall was built alongside the church which was also used for the Methodist Sunday school. In 1934 a vestry was added to the church.

The church served the Lower Barrington Methodist community for almost 80 years. In 1966 the church closed and the building was sold to Les Campbell and removed from the site in 1974. One of the church's windows was used in an extension to historic 'York House' on Sheffield Road.

Lower Barrington Methodist Church (undated photo) Source: Forward In Faith

One of the church's windows has been used in a loft extension to York House on Sheffield Road. photo:


Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 30 January 1884, page 2
North West Post, Thursday 7 July 1887, page 2
Colonist, Saturday 2 November 1889, page 12
Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 2 April 1890, page 3
North West Post, Saturday 19 April 1890, page 2
Colonist, Saturday 10 May 1890, page 24
Examiner, Wednesday 5 June 1918, page 3

Methodist Church (Tasmania), Sheffield Circuit, Forward In Faith, Sheffield Methodist Circuit Stewardship Canvass 1959, Devonport

Stansall, M. E. J. & Methodist Church of Australasia. (1975). Tasmanian Methodism, 1820-1975. Launceston, Tas: Methodist Church of Australasia

Notes by Miss Hilda Rockcliff published in 'The days of our youth : being a brief history of Lower Barrington with memories of students from the last years of the school's life' (1985); Devonport : C.L. Richmond


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