No. 1251 - Sandy Bay - Primitive Methodist Mission Hall (1895)

Sandy Bay is a southern suburb of Hobart. It is believed that it was named by Reverend Robert Knopwood while he was out on the Derwent on a whaling boat. The northern half of Sandy Bay was known as Queenborough between the years 1859 and 1878.

The Primitive Methodist movement began in 1808 and was led by Methodist lay preacher Hugh Bourne, who was expelled from the British Methodist movement. Bourne and his followers became known as Primitive Methodists, meaning ‘first’ or ‘original’. Bourne's followers were also disparagingly called ‘Ranters’, a reference to their crude and often noisy preaching. Their outdoor camp meetings generally attracted the working classes who sometimes did not feel that they were accepted by the Wesleyan Methodists.

The Primitive Methodists first appeared in Hobart in 1860 and acquired the Knox Chapel on Collins Street in 1861. In the 1890s the Collins Street church established a congregation at Sandy Bay. In 1894 a mission hall was built on land on Princes Street. The foundation stones for the building was ceremonially laid on Wednesday 12 December 1894 by Dr. Crowther MHA and Mr John Miller. The Mercury reported:

“Just 34 years ago the Rev. E. C. Pritchard had arrived in Hobart, and assisted by the Rev. Jos. Longham, started a small Primitive Methodist Society of some 10 persons. A small building in Argyle-street was rented, and some nine months later the present church was purchased. About two years ago that had been found too small for the Sunday evening congregations, and the Town-hall was now used. About two years ago also, mission services were commenced at Sandy Bay, in a room lent by Mr. J. F. Jones, and the attendance had been steadily growing until the present building had become necessary…..”.

“Dr. Crowther, having declared the stone well and truly laid, congratulated the Rev. J. T. Piercey and the members of the Church on the success of their undertaking, assuring them that as a member for the district it gave him great pleasure to assist in promoting the general welfare of the people residing there. Although he nominally belonged to the Church of England he was a firm believer in all and every form of religion which taught the people to worship the one God….”.

“Mr. Miller then laid the other stone, and expressed the honour he felt at performing the ceremony. With others he had worked hard for the erection of the hall, and he trusted that before long it would be entirely free from debt. He read a statement showing that the cost of the ground on which the building would be placed was £200, and the cost of building £217 8s, while the approximate cost of the seating and an organ was £55, and incidental expenses £17 12s., making a total of £520….”.

“On a vacant portion of the ground, on which it is subsequently intended to build a church, a tent was erected for the sale of tea and other refreshments. The mission-hall will be a brick and stone building, 49ft. by 28ft., with walls 13ft. high and apex of gable 30ft. The main entrance will be from Princes-street. The building will be lighted by eight windows. The architect is Mr. Geo. Fagg, and the contractors Messrs, Cooper Bros., Mr. Jas. Gregory superintending the construction...”.

The mission hall was officially opened on Sunday 3 February 1895. Although it was intended to build a church alongside the hall, the intervention of Methodist Union in 1902 resulted in a new church being constructed on a larger block of land further up on Princes Street. When the new church was built in 1904, the Primitive Methodist Mission Hall was used as a Methodist Sunday school.

The building is currently used as a restaurant. 

All photos used in this article are my own. 


Mercury, Thursday 13 December 1894, page 2
Mercury, Monday 4 February 1895, page 2
Tasmanian News, Tuesday 5 February 1895, page 2

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.


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