No. 1222 - Launceston - City Mission Hall - Cornwall Square (1896-1906) "The Bunyan"

Launceston City Mission was founded in 1854 by a group of prominent citizens who were concerned with the religious and economic welfare of the town’s poor and destitute. William Whitaker was appointed as the first “town missioner”.

For the next thirty years the Mission did not have a permanent base and various premises were rented until 1883 the Wharf Mission Hall on William Street became the first permanent premises of the Launceston Town Mission. [see No. 1174]

In 1896 the Wharf Mission Hall was moved to a new site off Cornwall Square (then known as Market Green), after the foundry firm of Salisbury and Company acquired the William Street site for the expansion of its business. The new site was on the corner of William and Charles Street.

The hall was enlarged and renamed “City Mission Hall”. The Launceston Examiner reported on the reopening that took place on Tuesday 21 January 1896:

“The re-opening of the old Wharf Mission Hall, which is to be termed in future the City Mission Hall, took place last evening, and was celebrated by a tea and public meeting. For many 
years the old building stood at the rear of Salisbury and Co.'s foundry, but that firm requiring the space a removal was necessary. Some time was spent in fixing a convenient place, and a site was selected on the Market Green, where the approach to it is now much more pleasant both by night and day than before.

Messrs J. and T. Gunn were entrusted with the work of removing and re-building the hall, and have done it well. The building, which is now 10ft longer, has had a new iron roof put on, well lined throughout with T. and G. pine, painted, and also varnished in places. The premises are now very compact, having two small rooms at the back, water laid on in the yard, and all conveniences for the congregation…. At eight o'clock a public meeting was held, presided over by the Rev. W. Law, secretary to the Launceston City Mission, and the hall was packed. He gave a short history of the old building, and particularised the improvement as stated above.... Mr Marshall, when giving a resume of the mission work in the city, said that he would be able to carry on more effective work at the new building, and invite people whom he could not before on account of the awkward situation of the hall. He expected a strong revival in this kind of work, which is very necessary….”

In 1906 the hall was removed from Cornwall Square as the City Council required the land for use . An amount of £60 was paid to the City Mission for the hall. The money was used to acquire new premises.

The halls closure was marked by a final service in December 1906:

“The closing service in connection with the old City Mission Hall, on the Cornwall Square, was held last night. The hall has an interesting history. The work was commenced first over 30 years ago in shed near the wharf by some young men, including Mr Ernest Smith, the present principal of the Launceston High School. It was then called the Wharf Mission. Afterwards a small hall was built on the grounds upon which Salisbury's Foundry now stands, and was known as the Bunyan. Some assert that the name originated in the fact that buns were freely used in those days to attract the children and others to the meetings. Anyway, both Wharf Mission and Bunyan have stuck to the place up to the present, for old residents still use those designations, instead of City Mission. After a few years those pioneers, finding themselves unable to continue the work, handed it over to the then city missionary (Mr R. Marshall); who up to that time had no hall as a head quarters for his work….At the close, Mr G. Partridge gave a brief, address which he spoke of going first to the “Bunyan”, over 30 years ago, when he was a boy of 12, and hearing words which determined the course of his life. A closing hymn was sung, the benediction pronounced, and that City Mission work development closed almost simultaneously with close of the year”.

After the hall’s closure the Mission used the Russell Street Mission Hall in Inveresk and it later purchased the Queens Head which had been used as St John’s Anglican Mission. [see No. 773] In 1943 the old Primitive Methodist church on York Street was acquired by the City Mission. The later history of the City Mission will be the subject of a further article on Churches of Tasmania’.

The City Mission Hall - Valentine, Barbara, Launceston City Mission 1854–2004

The Mission's reopening after its removal to the corner of William and Charles Street - Launceston Examiner - January 1896

Cornwall Square - the photo is taken close to the position of the City Mission Hall-source: Libraries Tasmania

Signage near the site of the Mission Hall 


Launceston Examiner, Saturday 11 January 1896, page 7
Launceston examiner, Tuesday 21 January 1896, page 1
Launceston Examiner, Wednesday 22 January 1896, page 4
Examiner, Thursday 23 June 1904, page 3
Daily Telegraph, Monday 31 December 1906, page 8
The Mercury, Monday 31 December 1906, page 5
Examiner, Friday 29 December 1933, page 7

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


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