No. 1277 - Launceston - Invermay Methodist Sunday School (1929)

This article is one of a series about buildings associated with Tasmania’s historical churches and religious orders. These buildings include Sunday schools, parish halls, convents, schools and residences of the clergy. Ancillary buildings are often overlooked and rarely feature in published histories. My aim is to create a basic record of these buildings, including those that no longer exist. 

Invermay is a northern suburb of Launceston bounded by the Tamar River and the North Esk River.

In 1890 Wesleyan Methodist services and Sunday school classes were held at a house in Landale Street.  In 1892 a brick church was built at a site on the corner of Bryan and Albion streets. In 1898 a weather board Sunday school hall was built alongside the church on Albion Street. In 1929 the hall was moved to the east side of the church. The hall still stands behind a new Sunday school built in 1929. 

The foundation stone for the new Sunday school was ceremonially laid on Monday 18 February 1929.  Barely six weeks later much of Invermay was inundated by devastating floods following very heavy rain across most of northern Tasmania.

The new school was built on Bryan Street on land purchased in 1912 for a parsonage. Initially the church trustees had considered building a new church and using the ‘old’ church as a Sunday school building. Instead they settled on enlarging the church and using the parsonage site for a new Sunday school.

The Hobart Mercury reported:

“…The erection of a new building has been under consideration for some time, while there was also a movement on foot to extend the church. In July last the trustees decided to raise a sum or money sufficient to warrant a start being made with a new Sunday school, as they considered the religious training of the young people was of such importance that preference should be given to that work. By November £1000 had been raised and plans for the new building were prepared by the architect (Mr. A. North). While the building was being erected by the contractor (Mr. K. Howe) the old hall was moved a considerable distance and this task was successfully accomplished by Messrs. Munro and Quinn. The cost including renovations and extensions was £300….When the foundation stone was set in place on Saturday the Sunday school was about half completed and those present were able to get a good idea of the commodious accommodation which will  be provided…”.

The flooding of Invermay in April 1929 delayed the completion of the building which was eventually opened and dedicated on Saturday 29 June. The Launceston Examiner’s report of the event provides a detailed description of the building:

“The area of land available for the new school building is restricted, and much consideration has been given to the grouping of the various blocks so that their disposition might naturally coalesce and form a united whole for teaching purposes. In addition to school requirement space has been reserved for enlargement of the present church, which has long been felt to be inadequate for the growing congregation. The new classroom block, which is of brickwork, is placed on the eastern side of the church, fronting on Bryan street, and the main entrance gives ready access to the side door of the church”.

“The building is entered through a wide doorway, spanned by, a Gothic arch, enriched with an interesting example of 14th century foliated work. The secretary's office is located on the right hand side of the entrance hall, and is connected with the library, which has also a separate doorway leading into the school”.

“The infants' classroom, 19ft. x 17ft. 6in., is situated on the left side of entrance hall, whilst the kindergarten 23ft. x 22ft., is placed immediately in the rear. The smaller children are thus grouped in the safest and most accessible portions of the building, and separated from their  elders, while rooms allocated to the senior scholars are placed on the upper floor…..The whole of the upper floors and staircase has been built with reinforced concrete, consequently the whole block is as nearly fireproof as It is possible for science to make it”.

The Examiner’s report went on to describe the school’s upper floor:

“The first apartment reached on the upper floor is a large open-air classroom. Such provisions have been recommended by continental educationists, and it is to be hoped that the arrangement will be appreciated by both teacher and scholars. The next room entered is a drill hall, 27ft. x 15ft., around which five class rooms for senior scholars are grouped….Descending again to the ground floor, there is a corridor leading from the entrance hall to the school hall on the left side of which is a workshop and kitchen. The school hall Is a re-erection, but an additional ante-room has been built….”.

At its peak the Sunday school had an enrolment of about 200 children. After the 1960s enrolments declined and this accelerated following the establishment of the Uniting Church in 1977. In 2000 the church was deconsecrated and in 2002 the church and Sunday school  was sold to a Tibetan Buddhist Institute. 

The Sunday school and church

The roof of original Sunday school is visible behind the new building.

Invermay Uniting Church and Sunday School Centenary (1890-1900)


Launceston Examiner, Friday 29 April 1898, page 5
Launceston Examiner, Monday 8 August 1898, page 4
Daily Telegraph, Monday 10 October 1904, page 5
Examiner, Saturday 16 February 1929, page 6
Mercury, Monday 18 February 1929, page 3
Examiner, Saturday 29 June 1929, page 6
Invermay Uniting Church and Sunday School Centenary (1890-1900), commemorative booklet, 1990.


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