No. 1248 - Middleton - Methodist Church (1895-1967)

Middleton is a small rural settlement on the Channel Highway approximately 40 kilometres south of Kingston. The settlement was originally named Long Bay before it changed to Middleton in 1892. The name was derived from a barque named Middleton built by shipbuilder John Watson, a former overseer of the shipyard at Port Arthur. Middleton was the family name of Watson’s wife.

Middleton’s Methodist, Anglican and Catholic churches were among more than 20 churches destroyed in the 1967 bushfires which swept across southern Tasmania.

The Methodist church was built in 1895 and was constructed from timber salvaged from the Hobart International Exhibition Building, a temporary structure on Hobart’s Domain. The church’s seats were used in the concert hall of the exhibition. The church was officially opened on Sunday 3 November 1895. The event was recorded by the Mercury’s country news correspondent:

“The usually quiet district, of Long Bay has had a stirring time during the week, the cause being the ensuing of the first Wesleyan Methodist church in the history of Long Bay. A half acre of land was given for the purpose of erecting a place of worship a little over 12 months ago, after which a
meeting was called to consider the advisability of commencing operations, which resulted in a number of the residents, among whom was an architect, Mr. W. Baillie, under whose directions the church was built, uniting to give freely their time and labour to commence and complete the work. The building is constructed of wood, with a seating capacity of 100, and when painted will represent in cash about £100. The present debt is only £30, and £22 10s. of that amount has been promised”.

“On Sunday, November 3, the church was opened by the local minister, who preached in the afternoon and evening to very large congregations. On the following Tuesday, 6th inst.,
a tea and public meeting were field, at which upwards of 100 people were present. The ladies of the locality gratuitously provided the tea, those who had charge of the tables being Mesdames Anderson, J. Grove, W. Yeoland and Misses Anderson (2), Jones, and Black. After tea the Rev. W. Shaw, of Hobart, the much esteemed chairman of the district, who has the oversight of all the circuits in Southern Tasmania, took the chair, and after the report had been read by Mr
Frederick, gave, to his usual able manner, a telling and instructive speech….”

The loss of Middleton’s Methodist Church in 1967 was more than the loss of a place of worship but also a significant part of the Channel District’s history. Middleton resident Russell Griffiths writes:

“The altar inside this lovely country church was especially unique as it was elaborate and the craftsmanship was breathtaking….In the church grounds there were six plinths each with a "death penny" mounted which commemorated six local young men who never returned from WW1. Only one of those was found after the 1967 Bush Fires and that is on display now at the Middleton Hall along with other artefacts from the Methodist Church”.

The Methodist church was not rebuilt but was replaced by modern building used jointly by Methodist, Catholic and Anglican congregations.

Middleton Methodist Church (Weekly Courier)

Timber for the Methodist church was salvaged from the Hobart International Exhibition Building, a temporary structure on Hobart’s Domain. photo: Tasmanian State Archive: NS1013-1-996


Mercury, Friday 8 November 1895, page 3
Weekly Courier, Thursday 29 September 1910, page 22
Mercury, Thursday 14 September 1944, page 5

Stansall, M. E. J and Methodist Church of Australasia Tasmanian Methodism, 1820-1975 : compiled at the time of last Meeting of Methodism prior to union. Methodist Church of Australasia, Launceston, Tasmania, 1975.

Russell Griffith, 'Tasmanian Pictorial Church Index Facebook Group, comment, 1 October 2018.


  1. I was present at the opening of the rebuilt Middleton Methodist Church, after the 67' bushfires. It was reopened as a purely Methodist church. I was also present at the decommissioning service, as a Uniting Church in Australia Church, many years later.


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