No. 1341 - Torquay (East Devonport) - Wesleyan Methodist Chapel (1858-1883)

Before the official proclamation of the town of Devonport in 1890, two seperate townships developed on either side of the Mersey River; Torquay on the east and Formby on the west. Of the two towns Torquay was the most developed. East of Torquay farmers settled along the coast from North Down to Port Sorrel and in 1851 the discovery of coal at Tarleton initiated a period of growth for the town.

After the discovery of coal at Tarleton a number of Methodists decided to establish a Methodist church to serve the faithful in the area. In 1853 services were conducted in the open air and a Sunday school was opened by Mr Surft at the coal mines. In 1857, the first Methodist Minister, Rev. G. Lough was appointed to the Mersey District and meetings were held near Cockers Point at Tarleton. In the same year a fundraising ‘tea meeting’ in aid of church building funds was held in a tent made from sails loaned by Captain W. Holyman.

Before a church was built at Torquay services were held in the courthouse and some services were held in the billiard room of Mr Steven’s hotel. The first Sunday school was opened by Mr George Muggeridge whose house had been used for weeknight services.

In 1858 a small wooden building was erected on the corner of Cross Street and Murray Street. The chapel, as it was called, measured only 20 ft by 22 ft. While there is no written account of the chapel’s official opening, a notice in the Cornwall Chronicle reveals that two services took place on Sunday 29 August 1858. Reverend T. Angwin delivered both sermons and collections were made to help meet the cost of building the chapel. The same notice announced that “Divine Service” would be held “every Sunday morning at 11 o’clock”.

The church remained in use until 1883 when it was replaced by a new building which was officially opened on 26 November of that year. The new church is the subject of a seperate article. [see No. 272]

The only known image of the old chapel is a drawing dated 1870 which is credited to Kathleen Cocker, a well known Devonport artist. However the monogram AC in the left hand corner of the drawing suggests that it might be the work of Kathleen Cocker’s mother, Mrs Emily Anstice Cocker. The Cocker family were associated with the church in the 1870s.

A drawing of the chapel attributed to Devonport artist, Kathleen Cocker. (Burnie Regional Museum)

The new church built in 1883 which replaced the earlier church. Original source not known - posted by Betty Keep‎ Devonport (Tasmania) and Surrounds - A Pictorial History 1 July 2018 


The Cornwall Chronicle Wednesday 18 August 1858, page 7
North West Post, Monday 30 November 1908, page 3
North West Post, Tuesday 1 December 1908, page 3

Pink, Kerry.  And wealth for toil : a history of North-West and Western Tasmania, 1825-1900 / Kerry Pink  Advocate Marketing Services Burnie, Tas  1990

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, Tas, 1975.


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