No. 1162 - Launceston - St John's Sunday School and Hall

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.

St John’s ‘Sunday Schoolroom’ is situated on Elizabeth Street adjacent to St John’s Church. The original Sunday school building was constructed in 1843. This is obscured by a gothic style extension built on the street front in 1855. To the east of of St John’s school is a building which was the home of Launceston church Grammar School until 1924. Both buildings now form part of the Colonial Motor Inn.

The history of St John’s School is summarised in the following article published in the Examiner in 1907. The report was published after the ‘Sunday school’ reopened after the construction of an extension which almost doubled the length of the building.

“St. John's school is the oldest Sunday school building in the city. It has been built in sections. In February, 1843, the first portion was erected about 20ft. off Elizabeth-street, and in June, 1855, the present ornamental front was put on, the building thus being in the shape of at T. Some years after, another part was added at the rear, the building thus representing the letter H. . The attendance increased so much that the two side walls were moved out 10 feet about 20 years ago, and a new roof put on at the same time. Now the back part of the building has been moved back about 30 or 40 feet, the rear portion forming the infant school, together with four classrooms, and also a bathroom for the use of the gymnasium classes held by the Union Jack Club, which has a lease of the school for a couple of nights a week. The dimensions of the main building are 98ft. by 37ft., and the infant room.36ft. by 16ft., the total measurement being 3975 square feet. The building is now second in size to the Albert Hall, having accommodation for 900 persons. Portion of the old floor has been renewed, and new and additional escape doors erected; in fact, it is thoroughly up to date, provision having also been made for showing much larger pictures at the bioscope entertainments than was possible in the old hall….”.

The extent of the building an be seen in an aerial photo taken in 1922. The 1907 extension was demolished in the 1970s. A photo of the building taken in the 1960s shows the original front entry to the school situated on the west side of the building. In 1974 St John’s school was converted into three hotel suites as part of the Colonial Motor inn Complex.

St John's School c.1900, photographed before the extension to the building in 1907. State Library of Victoria

St John's School in the 1960s. Archives Office of Tasmania, Lloyd George Webb Collection NG2692

An aerial photo of St John's church, school and hall (1922) The extent of the building can be seen which made it second in size to the Albert Hall at the time of its construction. Archives Office of Tasmania NG3520.

St John's School in the 1970s. State Library of Victoria

The former school in 2022 - my photo.


Examiner, Thursday 16 May 1907, page 5

Launceston's History In Trust, National Trust of Australia (Tas.), Launceston, 1977.


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