No. 1220 - Ridgeway - St Patrick's Catholic Church (1935-1967)

Ridgeway is a semi-rural district about 7 kilometres south-west of Hobart. Prior to the 1967 bushfires, Ridgeway was a market garden area with its own school, post office and a Catholic church. St Patrick’s Catholic church was one of several churches destroyed in the 1967 fires that swept across southern Tasmania.

Ridgeway’s Catholic church was closely associated with the Tagg family. John Tagg (1861-1929) had been head gardener at the Cascade Training School for Boys before he went on to establish an orchard at Ridgeway in the 1890s. The Tagg’s opened a tea room and gardens on their property ‘Homestead’ in the 1920s. John Tagg’s eldest son, George, played a leading role in the cause to build a Catholic church and the family donated land for this purpose.

Before the church was built in 1934, Catholic Mass was held monthly in the State school and occasionally at a private house. Fundraising to build a church commenced in 1920 with a Strawberry Feast and Fair held at nearby FernTree.

The church’s origins are recounted in some detail in the following article published in the Hobart Mercury when St Patrick’s was officially opened on Sunday 17 February 1935:

“In the presence of the largest assemblage seen in the district, the" Archbishop of Hobart (the Most Rev. Dr. Wm. Hayden) blessed and opened the new Church of St. Patrick at Ridgeway yesterday afternoon. The Rev. Father Cullen, of St. Joseph's, Hobart, gave an account of the development of the movement which reached its culmination that day.

Amongst the first settlers in the district was the late Mr. Patrick Goram. When the Rev. Father Hennebry went there on one occasion….he told the small congregation that he looked forward to the day when a church would be built in their midst. Mr. Goram at once stepped forward and put down the first sovereign towards the building fund. It was announced at once that the future church would be dedicated to St. Patrick. Mr. George Tagg had remembered and honoured that tradition when requested to name the building.

For many years the district had been served by the Rev. Fathers Holehan and O’Dwyer, from Brown's River [Kingston], and sometimes circumstances had required priests to come from the city. A few years ago the Rev. Father Mimnagh, now at Fern Tree, said Mass there frequently, and did good service in instructing the children of the district. Of late the duty had fallen to Father Sherry, who had been visiting the school regularly and attending to the spiritual wants of the people. The decision to erect a church was made by the Archbishop, who listened to the earnest appeals of the Tagg family. To them in particular the credit was due. Practically single-handed Mr. George Tagg collected the funds. He also gave the site - the best in Ridgeway. The memory of the late Mr. J. Tagg would be honoured in the beautiful chancel window.

The building had cost £430, and as there, was still a small balance in hand, the necessary furnishings would be supplied at once. Father Cullen thanked Mr. A. Johnston for his great kindness, not only in this instance, but on the many occasions when he had given his services as architect for Catholic Church buildings in all parts of Tasmania. Having blessed the church, assisted by the Rev. Fathers Green, Sherry, and Murphy, the Archbishop addressed the congregation. He congratulated Mr. Johnston, who had planned so many ecclesiastical buildings, and Mr. T. Dowd, the builder of St. Patrick’s. …..In Ridgeway the church would stand a visible token of their belief, and it would inspire the people of the district to be worthy of the faith which told them that God the Son became man to redeem and save them.

Mr. George Tagg, in presenting the deeds of the property to the Archbishop, thanked him for coming that day amongst them. He thanked Miss O'Shaughnessy, a particularly generous benefactor, and several others who had given donations. Mr. Leo Doyle referred to the fact that since the coming of Archbishop Haydon, many churches, schools, and religious houses had been opened in Tasmania. Wonderful progress was being made, not only in large centres of population, but also in small outlying districts where the scarcity of population created many problems for the Church….”.


St Patrick’s was a modest weatherboard building and stood near the junction of Ridgeway Road and Hall Street, in close proximity to the Tagg’s Homestead. After the church’s destruction in the 1967 bushfires it was proposed that the land be returned to the Tagg family in exchange for land off Thomas Street. Plans to rebuild the church did not proceed.

A detail taken from an Ash Bester postcard of St Patrick's Church at Ridgeway. c.1940 - Source: https://www.mtwellingtonhistory.com/tea-gardens/

The Tasmanian Mail - December 1920

A map of Ridgeway showing the church's location: Tasmanian State Archives - File AG174-1-2342 


Ash Bester Postcard of Ridgeway - Source: https://www.mtwellingtonhistory.com/tea-gardens/


Sources:

The Mercury, Thursday 20 May 1897, page 4
The Tasmanian Mail, 30 December 1920, page 20
World, Thursday 6 January 1921, page 2
The Mercury, Monday 12 May 1927, page 3
The Mercury, Tuesday 12 February 1935, page 3
The Mercury, Monday 18 February 1935, page 3
The Mercury, Thursday 6 August 1936, page 12

Correspondence regarding Ridgeway subdivision - Tasmanian State Archives - File AG174-1-2342

Maria Grist, Tea Gardens, Hobart, Tasmania (document), September 1917 (mtwellingtonhistory.com)

Southerwood, W. T. Planting a faith : Hobart's Catholic story in word and picture / [by] W. T. Southerwood [Hobart] 1970

















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