No. 1173 - Hobart - Cascades - St Thomas' Anglican Church (1913)

Cascades is a suburb of Hobart situated between South Hobart and Mount Wellington. It is the location of the Cascade Brewery, the oldest brewery in Australia and is the site of Hobart’s historic convict Female Factory.

St Thomas’ Anglican church closed in the 1980s. The building has been converted into a house after being used as the premises of a furniture upholstery factory for a number of years.

St Thomas’ was established as a mission hall within All Saints parish. The foundation stone for the building was ceremonially laid on Saturday 21 December 1912. The Mercury reported:

“A mission hall for religious services of the Church of England, Sunday school, working men's club, boys' and girls' club, and other social effort is being erected on the Cascades-road, near the tram terminus in connection with All Saints' Church. It is to be called St. Thomas's Mission-hall, and the memorial stone was laid on Saturday (St. Thomas's Day) by the Governor (Sir Harry Barron). The main hall will be 44ft. x 24ft., capable of seating about 250 people. There will be a chancel, and class and retiring rooms. The building will be of weatherboard, erected on a substantial stone foundation, with a corrugated iron roof, and the interior will be lined with pine. It is expected to be ready for opening in about four mouths. It has been designed by Mr. Rudolph Koch, architect, Mr. H. P. Shirley being the contractor. The land has been purchased for £100 a little over half an acre in all), and the building is estimated to cost about £500, added to which will be the expense of finishing”.

The building was completed in early 1913 and a fund-raising fair, opened by Lady King-Hall, was held in February. The hall was dedicated (but not consecrated) by the Bishop of Hobart in July 1913. A report published in the Mercury on this ceremony provides further information about the church and explains why it was not consecrated:

“Yesterday, at evening service, the chancel portion of the new Mission-hall or Church of St Thomas, Cascades, was dedicated by Bishop Mercer. It is alternately called a church and a hall, inasmuch as, whilst it contains a chancel with an altar (which was dedicated yesterday), the rest of the interior, or nave, is to be used not only for divine service, but also for meetings of church organisations, social gatherings, etc… An organ has been presented by Mr. Stanley Dobson, an altar by Mr J R Lumsden (the timber being given by the Huon Timber Company), carpeting for the chancel by Mrs. C M Maxwell, and reading desk by Mrs Fawns. Seating accommodation is provided for nearly 200 people….The Bishop, in his address, said it was a very special pleasure to him to be present and to take part in the service, because he had long seen the necessity for such a structure in connection with church work on the Cascades side of the parish. He explained that he was dedicating, not consecrating, the chancel portion, because it was hoped that it would, in years to come, be supplemented by a substantial church, and then be used for other parish purposes of a social and secular character, whilst if it were consecrated that could not be done….”.

For many years the church served as a public hall for the Cascades and was used by groups such as the Country Women’s Association. In 1924 St Thomas’ featured in an unusual court case after a horse was badly injured after falling down the church steps. The animal, which had been grazing on the church grounds, was chased off the property by “two lads”, on the instruction of Mrs W. Woodleigh, a member of St Thomas’ Ladies Committee. Mrs Woodleigh was successfully sued by the horse’s owner, Mr Reuben Ware, who had been given permission for the animal to graze on the property.

In 1967 the church miraculously survived the massive bushfires which swept through the area destroying numerous properties. The building of a “substantial church” for Cascades, as anticipate by Bishop Mercer, never eventuated. Instead, declining church attendance led to St Thomas’ closure in the 1980s. The building retains its original appearance and is well preserved given that it has not been used as a church for many years.

St Thomas' Church in 2022.

The Daily Post - 1913

St Thomas' (undated photograph) - Photograph courtesy of the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania.



Sources:

Mercury, Monday 23 December 1912, page 2
Daily Post, Monday 3 February 1913, page 3
Daily Post, Saturday 5 July 1913, page 2
Mercury, Monday 7 July 1913, page 3
World, Friday 25 April 1924, page 3

Stephens, Geoffrey & Anglican Church of Australia. Diocese of Tasmania, (issuing body.) The Anglican Church in Tasmania : a Diocesan history to mark the sesquicentenary, 1992. Trustees of the Diocese, Hobart, 1991


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