No. 1184 - Hobart - St Martin's Anglican Mission - Melville Street (1906)

In 1906 a brick mission hall was built on Melville Street replacing an earlier Mission Hall that had been established in the early 1890s. The building, which no longer exists, was located close to the intersection of Murray Street.

The first mission, known as ‘St David’s Mission’, was run by highly respected superintendents, Mr and Mrs James Reed. The couple had “devotedly carried on their labour of love among the people of that very poor district” and their “name was in every house in the district” because “they know the circumstances of everyone in it and the best way of helping them”.

By the turn of the century, the mission, which included a carpenter's shop, had become “inadequate to the growing interests of the work, which is for the benefit of the poorest of the poor”. Consequently a site for a new hall was purchased close to the original mission on Melville Street.

The ceremonial laying of the foundation stone for the new mission took place on Saturday 21 April 1906. The Mercury reported:

“The mission has long outgrown the premises in which it was carried on, and on Saturday the foundation-stone of a mission building in Melville-street, near Murray-street, capable of seating 150 people, was laid by Bishop Mercer. The building, which is of brick with front dressings of stone, is already so far advanced that the design can be traced…. At 3 p.m. a procession started from the room close by where the mission work has been carried on… There was already a large assemblage, including the Mayor (Alderman A. Crisp), …the gay appearance of the building, which was decorated with flags, and the singing of the choir soon attracting a good many more…”.

The Mission was officially opened and dedicated on Saturday afternoon, 28th July, 1906:

“The new mission building in Melville-street was dedicated by the Bishop of Tasmania. The building has been erected from the design of Mr. Alan Walker by Messrs, R. Stabb and Son.… It is a structure in red brick, with stone facings, with a very effective stone cross carved over the entrance, high up in the gable….Within there is a central hall, wide and lofty, the roof and walls being lined with stringy bark, which gives to the interior a very pleasing effect. It will accommodate 120 people. At the far end is a little sanctuary, which, when not in use, will be separated from the hall by curtains., but which on Saturday was disclosed to view, and which, with its nicely carpeted floor, its well-proportioned altar, with brass cross, candlesticks, and vases, the gift of Mrs Kermode (in memory of the late Mr Reginald Kermode), gives an atmosphere of devotion and worship to the building. The altar cross, which is of brass, with alabaster base and enamels at the extremity of each arm, was made in Hobart by Mr Watson, under Mr Walker's superintendence and is a satisfactory proof of the progress which arts and crafts are making amongst us. On one side of the sanctuary is a small vestry, and on the other side, at the back of the central hall, is a room, which is intended to be used as a kitchen….”.

“Saturday’s ceremony began with a procession, headed by a cross bearer, from the old mission-hall to the new building,…The building was filled to its utmost capacity. The service was exceedingly simple, but hearty and congregational….A collection for the building fund was taken up, and the bright and interesting ceremony closed with the Benediction. Mr Reed, the superintendent of the mission, presided at the organ. We cannot close without congratulating Mr and Mrs Reed on the realisation of their hopes, and the erection of this new home for the mission work to which they have devoted themselves with such self-sacrifice and devotion for so many years,…The total cost of the new building is £500, of which £400 has now been raised, leaving £100 to be provided…”.


St Martin’s Mission was used as a place of worship for over 30 years and the last recorded service took place in 1939. The date of the Mission’s closure and of the building demolition is not known.

The architect's drawing of the Mission Hall (Tasmanian Mail)

"The procession returning to the old Mission Hall" after the ceremonial laying of the foundation stone. Photo: Tasmanian Mail

The Tasmanian Mail, 28 April 1906


Sources:

Mercury, Thursday 23 January 1896, page 4
Mercury, Wednesday 6 December 1905, page 3
Daily Telegraph, Monday 23 April 1906, page 5
Mercury, Monday 23 April 1906, page 5
Tasmanian Mail, 28 April 1906, page 21
Mercury, Wednesday 2 May 1906, page 7
Mercury, Monday 30 July 1906, page 6

Henslowe, Dorothea I. and Hurburgh, Isa.; Our heritage of Anglican churches in Tasmania / by Dorothea I. Henslowe; sketches by Isa Hurburgh, 1978
 

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