No. 1311 - Kings Meadows Convict Station (1836)

One of goals of the Churches of Tasmania project is to record every place of worship established in Tasmania since settlement began. A significant number of early places of worship were associated with Tasmania’s convict system with chapels built at prisons, probation stations and ‘female factories’. Little is known about many of these chapels which were often temporary structures or used for only short periods of time.

The Kings Meadows convict station, which was situated south of Launceston, was a short-lived convict facility used from 1836 to 1837. It was built to house prisoners working on a scheme to bring fresh water to Launceston from the South Esk River:

“An ambitious scheme to provide fresh water to Launceston was begun in 1836. The original plan was to tunnel from the South Esk down stream from "Riverview", at Evandale, then flow through open channels, following the contour lines into Launceston, ending on top of Windmill Hill. From there, water was to be gravity fed to homes in the valley".

For political and economic reasons the scheme was eventually abandoned and convicts were removed the station to work on the roads and other government projects.

The Kings Meadows station was located near the Kings Meadows rivulet on a site directly opposite what is now the Bunnings complex. The site was recently surveyed by archeologists prior to it being developed for housing. Nothing of the station remains on the surface as it has been destroyed by farming activity as well as the construction of the Kings Meadows connector which cuts through the site. However, a detailed plan of the station has survived which reveals extensive buildings including a Mess Room which doubled as a Chapel. It is not known how accurately the plan reflects what was actually built especially given that the station was closed soon after the water scheme was abandoned in 1837.

It is highly probable that the station’s convicts would have received some religious instruction and certainly would have participated in regular Christian worship as this was a critical part in the process of the moral reform of convicts.

Detail from a plan of the Kings Meadows Convict Station.  The Chapel is marked as No.20 at the top of the compound. Source: Libraries Tasmania (Tasmanian Archives) - Item No. PWD266/1/1334. A link to the full plan can be accessed HERE

Part of the excavations at the Kings Meadows site (photo: The Examiner)


Launceston Historical Society, Sunday Lecture Series, Kings Meadows Road Station, A talk by John Dent and Darren Watton, 18 April 2021. []

The Examiner, 16 November 2018
The Mercury, 8 November 2018
The Examiner, 6 November 2018


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