No. 1312 - St Helens - St Paul's Anglican Church (1870-1884)

St Helens is the largest town on Tasmania’s east coast. It was established as a fishing village and whaling station in the 1830s. When tin was discovered in the hinterland in the 1870s, St Helens was developed as a port for the mines. It was named by Captain Furneaux after a town of the same name on the Isle of Wight, England. In the 19th century the St Helens district was also referred to as Georges Bay.

The history of the parish dates back to about 1862, when Rev. John Chambers, who was then in charge of the Fingal, Cullenswood, and Falmouth districts, commenced holding occasional services at St Helens. In 1867 six acres of land was granted to the Church of England “for church, burial and school purposes”.

In late 1870 a weatherboard church was built on Tully Street. There is no surviving written record of the church’s opening and consecration. However this likely took place in early December 1870 when Bishop Bromby visited Goulds Country. In February 1871 a report on a meeting of the Anglican Synod noted that “a homely but ecclesiastical looking wood building had been…erected and consecrated at George’s Bay”. This confirms that the church had opened in the previous year.

With the discovery of tin in the Ruby Valley in about 1874, the settlement at St. Helens grew rapidly and by the early 1880s the small weatherboard church was considered too small for the congregation. While the church’s site on Tully Street was considered convenient for “the people living along the banks of the George's River”, it was regarded as too far the centre of the town. Consequently a decision was made to abandon the Tully Street site in favour of a smaller block of land on Cecilia Street.

The old church was used by the Wesleyan Methodists until 1889 when they built a church on Quail Street. The Church of England Cemetery at Tully Street remained in use until 1894. I have yet to discover what became of the old church following the Methodist departure in 1889.

The Tully Street site of the old church is marked by a small collection of headstones. These were recently relocated from the cemetery to a memorial site closer to the road when the land was developed.

The church on Tully Street (St Paul's Anglican Church: The First 100 Years)














Sources:

Launceston Examiner, Thursday 4 April 1867, page 3
The Mercury, Wednesday 7 December 1870, page 2
Launceston Examiner, Saturday 18 February 1871
Launceston Examiner, Friday 25 January 1884, page 3
The Mercury, Monday 9 February 1936, page 2

Burns, Peter. and Burns, Kathleen. and St. Paul's Anglican Church (St. Helens, Tas.). Centenary Year Committee.  St. Paul's Anglican Church : the first 100 years  P. and K. Burns?] [St. Helens, Tas  1983

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