No. 1227 - Swan Bay Methodist Church (1922)

Swan Bay is a small rural community on the west bank of the Tamar River about 20 kilometres north of Launceston.

This ‘blog entry’ is one of a series of articles about places of worship which are barely represented in the historical record. Often no images of these buildings have survived. My hope is that these brief articles may result in further information and photographs coming to light thus enabling a more complete history to be preserved.

Regular Methodist services at Swan Bay began in 1916 with worship taking place in the “assembly room” at the residence of Mrs Elizabeth Coward. In 1922 Mrs Coward donated land for the construction of a Methodist church hall. The building was officially opened on Sunday 6 August 1922. The Daily Telegraph reported on the opening services as well a fund raising fair held on the day before:

“Under perfect weather conditions crowds wended their way to the opening celebrations on Saturday last of the Swan Bay Methodist Church Hall, which stands on a pretty spot overlooking both road and river, the ground being generously donated by Mrs C. Coward and the late Mr C. Coward, Swan Bay. Punctually at 3 p.m. Rev. G.N. Wheaton, of Exeter, in a few well chosen remarks introduced Mr C. Hookway, who declared the fair open. The stalls presented a pleasing appearance, being laden with a beautiful display of goods artistically arranged…”.

“A feature of the celebration was the presentation, at her residence, of an easy chair to Mrs C. Coward, who, through sickness, was unable to join in the festivities….On Sunday at 11 a.m. a large congregation assembled, some journeying long distances to be present, at a “Pleasant Sunday morning service,” conducted, by Rev. G. N. Wheaton…. Suitable addresses and bright singing conduced to a happy time. Again in the afternoon at 3 p.m. a crowded attendance listened attentively to an inspiring discourse delivered by Rev. D. Lewis, of Launceston…”.

“The total proceeds from donations, fair, concert, and collections amounted to £118 18s 7d. The praiseworthy efforts of Messrs S. and C. Conard, T. Beck, H. Taylor, and J. J. Stevenson in giving all labour free, in the erection of this fine building, were the means of being enabled to open free of debt and have a small credit balance on hand”.

Sadly, Mrs Coward passed away a month after the church’s opening. The Launceston Examiner records:

“A large congregation assembled in the Swan Bay Methodist Church Hall when a memoriam service was held for the late Mrs Charles Coward….The church hall was arranged with dark drapings and white flowers. Hymns suitable for the occasion were sung by the congregation…Over fifty ago Mr and Mrs Charles Coward settled at Swan Bay. Notwithstanding all the hardships of that early period they managed to develop their estate. They were highly respected by all. For many years the Methodist service and Sunday school were held at the homestead Mr Coward died about six years ago”.

The exact location of the church is unclear apart from the description of it “overlooking both the road and river”. Reports of the church appear in local newspapers up until the early 1950s. Photographs of the church taken by Trevor Wills show the church in 1961. The date of the church’s closure is not known.

Swan Bay Methodist Church. The photograph was taken by Trevor Wills on 28 May 1961. With thanks to Darren Orr for supplying the photograph.

Swan Bay Methodist Church. The photograph was taken by Trevor Wills on 28 May 1961. With thanks to Darren Orr for supplying the photograph.

The Examiner - August 1922


Examiner, Tuesday 26 December 1916, page 7
Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 9 August 1922, page 8
Examiner, Thursday 10 August 1922, page 3
Examiner, Friday 8 September 1922, page 8
Examiner, Wednesday 25 July 1951, page 12


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