No. 1174 - Launceston - Wharf Mission Hall (1881-1896) "Go and do Likewise"

In 1881 a small mission hall was built on a site off William Street, near lower Charles Street. Following the demolition of the Bethel Chapel in 1878*, a need arose to minister to the poor who lived in the vicinity of the wharf. It was largely due to the efforts of 20 year old Francis Lindley Stephenson, that the Wharf Mission Hall was built for use as a Sunday school and mission room.

In 1880 Stephenson approached the Launceston Marine Board with a request to lease a site, opposite the Salmon and Ball Inn, to build a “Undenominational Sunday-school”. However it was found that the site was on a public street, beyond the jurisdiction of Marine Board, therefore this did not proceed. In September 1880 the Launceston Examiner reported:

“…Several gentlemen have for some time past been endeavouring to obtain permission to erect a Sunday-school for those children who do not attend any place of worship on the Esplanade, near the southern end of the Market Wharf, and behind Messrs Babington and Irwin's lower timber yard. Their great difficulty has been to find the authorities who could give them the requisite authority, as the Municipal Council disclaimed the power, and the Marine Board stated they had no jurisdiction over the locality, but both these bodies having no objection to the project, application was made to the Minister of Lands, who has granted the Committee a lease of a site at a nominal yearly rental. It is intended to erect a wooden building, which shall serve for the purposes of an Undenominational Sunday-school and Mission-room, the want of the latter having been often felt by those engaged in the work of the Town Mission and other philanthropic aims, and the Committee will be glad to receive help from those interested in the good work towards the accomplishment of the first step-the erection of the building”.

In November the Launceston Examiner reported that progress had been made towards building a hall:

“The Committee of the Wharf Mission Hall have succeeded in securing a building site off William-street, and opposite the Market. The building is now in the course of erection, and it is to be hoped that it will be completed in about six weeks….”.

The building was completed by the end of 1881 and by January 1882 the Sunday school was in operation. In the same month, Mr Robert Marshall, the Town Missionary (City Mission) conducted a service. Services were also conducted in the hall for “non-church goers” by Mr Hiddlestone of the Wellington Street Christian Mission Church. In the same year the hall was used to establish a new ‘branch’ of the Band of Hope, a youth-focussed temperance movement, while the Y.M.C.A held a “special evangelist service”.

In mid 1883 Stephenson departed for Latrobe and the Launceston ‘Town Mission’ took over the lease of the building at this time. The respect with which the young Stephenson was held is evident in a report on a “Valedictory Tea-Meeting” held at the Wharf Mission in October 1883:

“About one hundred and twenty sat down to tea, so that the little hall had to be filled twice. After the tables were removed a public meeting was held, when the hall was crowded to the door. Mr R. Marshall, Town Missionary, occupied the chair, and stated that the occasion for which they were met was to give honour to whom honour was due, and to say good-bye to one who had filled an honourable and useful position in the town, as engaged in the Lord’s work. It was seldom that a young man devoted himself so heartily to christian work, and especially to such work as Mr Stephenson had been engaged in. He would say to all young men, “Go and do likewise”. Addresses were also given by Messrs. Clerke, Gibton, Forward; Farmilo, and Ridge, who all spoke in very high terms of Mr Stephenson and his Wharf Mission work, and wished him God-speed in his new undertakings. Mr Lewis, on. behalf of those who had been associated in this work, presented Mr Stephenson with a handsomely-bound Bible and hymn-book, as a small token of their esteem and wishes for his future welfare”.

In 1883 the Wharf Mission Hall became the first permanent premises of the Launceston Town Mission. In 1896 the hall was moved to a new site on Cornwall Square, after the foundry firm of Salisbury and Company, acquired the William Street site for the expansion of the business. The old hall was enlarged and renamed “City Mission Hall”. In 1907 the hall was removed from Cornwall Square as the City Council required the land. An amount of £60 was paid to the City Mission for the hall, which was used to acquire new premises.

* Bethel Chapel - See No. 368

Launceston Wharf Mission - Source: Barbara Valentine, Launceston City Mission 1854-2004. 


Launceston Examiner, Wednesday 15 December 1880, page 3
Launceston Examiner, Wednesday 17 August 1881, page 3
Launceston Examiner, Friday 9 September 1881, page 2
Launceston Examiner, Saturday 19 November 1881, page 2
Launceston Examiner, Thursday 19 January 1882, page 3
Launceston Examiner, Monday 23 January 1882, page 3
The Tasmanian, Saturday 28 January 1882, page 94
Telegraph, Saturday 18 March 1882, page 2
Telegraph, Friday 30 June 1882, page 2
Launceston Examiner, Friday 14 July 1882, page 2
Telegraph, Friday 12 January 1883, page 2
Launceston Examiner, Friday 5 October 1883, page 2
Launceston Examiner, Thursday 27 May 1886, page 3
Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 22 January 1896, page 2
Examiner, Tuesday 19 March 1940, page 6 (obituary)

Valentine, Barbara, Launceston City Mission 1854–2004: caring and sharing in God's name. (Launceston City Mission)


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