No. 1257 - Sandy Bay - Baptist Church (1921)

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.

A Baptist Mission was established at Sandy Bay in the late 1880s and land was purchased with the intention of building a church. However this did not progress and activities of the Mission came to an end. A revival of Baptist activity at Sandy Bay about 25 years later was more successful in 1921 the Baptists purchased St Matthias Anglican Hall on Sandy Bay Road.

Originally known as the Queenborough Church Hall, the building was renamed St Matthias’ Church Hall in 1911. The hall was officially opened on Sunday 24th February 1889 by Reverend Canon G. Banks-Smith. The hall was also used as a public facility and it is likely that the Baptists used it before it was purchased from the Anglican Church in 1921.

The hall was officially reopened as a Baptist Church on Wednesday 12 October 1921. The Mercury published a detailed report which describes the hall’s acquisition and renovation:

“Baptist Church services were held at Sandy Bay 30 years ago, and some 20 years back Mr. J. T. Soundy purchased a block of ground in that suburb for church building purposes. For financial reasons the building did not materialise, and the ground was resold, but as the members of this church in the Sandy Bay district have grown considerably in numbers of late years, it was considered essential that a building should be provided in which they might worship according to the tenets of their faith. Such a building has been found in the old St. Matthias’s hall, which has been used for some time by the Church of England…and occasionally for political meetings and as a polling booth at elections…”.

“This building, as is known to many, is of brick with stone facings, and is situated in High-street, near Princes-street. Three or four months ago the trustees of the Baptist Church (Messrs. F. W. Heritage and H. Sidwell and Alderman J. Soundy) purchased it, and since then extensive repairs and alterations have bean undertaken. These are now practically completed, and tomorrow evening the church will be opened with a public tea and meeting”.

“The outside of the building has been brightened up, and a large new window of lead-lights of nice design and colour inserted in the front….But it is on the inferior of the building that most attention has been devoted. The large hall, which measures 55ft. x 24ft., and has accommodation for over 200 persons, has been re-coloured, and an oak dado fitted round the walls. The platform has been altered, and an oak railing affixed on either side of the oak lectern, which was made at the Repatriation School*. On the wall at the rear of the platform will be a coloured scroll, "Enter into His Courts with Praise.” The old gas lighting has been dispensed with, and electric light installed, while the building is well equipped with seats. An organ has been presented to the church by Mr J. T. Soundy”.

“A notable feature of the alterations and renovations is the large amount of work which has been enthusiastically undertaken and accomplished voluntarily by members of the church and the Men's Guild….The Rev George Wainwright will conduct the services at the new church for the first few months”.

While the building was used for Baptist services from 1921 it appears that it was only formally constituted as a Baptist Church in 1928. The Sandy Bay Baptist church is now an independent Baptist community no longer affiliated with the Baptist Union of Tasmania.

* The “Repatriation School” or more officially, ‘The Repatriation Trade School’ was located at the corner of Harrington and Melville streets. It was opened in February 1920. The school had electrically-driven machinery which were used to teach returned soldiers useful trades, including motor body building, boot making, engineering, etc.

Further information about the building's earlier history as St Matthias Church Hall can be found here: No. 1246


Mercury, Tuesday 11 October 1921, page 4
Mercury, Thursday 13 October 1921, page 2

Rowston, L.F.; One hundred years of witness : a history of the Hobart Baptist Church, 1884-1984


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