No. 1378 - Bridgenorth - Anglican Church Hall (1913)
This article is one in a series about public buildings in country areas that were used as places of worship. In these communities churches may have been planned but were never built due to lack of finance or changing circumstances. In most settlements, before a church was built, worship was typically held in homes, schoolrooms, barns, halls and other buildings. Conversely, in some communities, churches were sometimes the first public building erected and were used as schools and community halls. The focus of this series will primarily be on the public halls and schools that were used as churches. These buildings, and the religious communities which used them, are often overlooked in published histories of churches.
Bridgenorth is a small community in the West Tamar region approximately 18 kilometres north of Launceston. It is centred on the junction of the Bridgenorth and Long Plain Roads. It is believed that the settlement’s name is derived from a town of the same name in Shropshire, England.
The Bridgenorth hall was built in 1913 for use as a church and hall. The cost of the hall was largely borne by local members of the Anglican community. In January 1913 the Daily Telegraph reported:
“On Wednesday night a largely attended meeting was held, Mr Brailsford presiding, to take into consideration the advisability of erecting the Anglican Hall that has been talked of for some time past. This building is to fill a long-felt want, and is to serve the purpose of a public hall with the Anglican denomination to have the sole right to hold Divine service therein. A strong committee was formed, and the building is to be erected forthwith, a good sum having been collected with that object in view”.
The hall opened Monday 26 April 1913 with the event celebrated with an afternoon of sports and in the evening by a social and dance. The Daily Telegraph reported:
“…In the evening when the new hall was opened by Mr L. Atkinson, over 200 being present. Rev. McMichael presided….Councillors Gowans and Campbell were also present, and numbers from other districts. The new hall is quite an imposing structure and reflects much credit on its builder, Mr Walters of Glengarry. It is a weatherboard building. The timber was cut at the local mill. It has a galvanised iron roof….the size of the building being 45ft by 25ft…”.
In July 1916 William Brailsford, a prominent member of the original building committee, was killed in action on the Western Front. In September a memorial service was held in the hall to honour Brailford’s contribution to the community and country. The Daily Telegraph reported:
“On Sunday afternoon last a memorial service was held in the Church of England Hall to the memory of William Wood Brailsford, who has fallen in the war. Special hymns, intercessions, and sermon marked the occasion as a most impressive one. Members of the family were among the congregation, which was a much larger attendance than usual. The Rev. J. H. Kittell, rector of Exeter, conducted the service, and in well chosen words impressed upon his hearers the great ideal of sacrifice,…The offertory was a large one, a cheque of £100 being donated to relatives, friends, and residents of the district towards the Red Cross Funds”.
Two weeks after Brailford’s death, another member of the hall’s building committee, Eric Henry Olley, was killed in action in France. A memorial service was held at the hall in February 1917:
“On Sunday afternoon a memorial service in memory of the late E. H. Olley, who was killed in action at the front in France, was held in the Church Hall. The Rev. Woolley officiated, and preached an earnest and appropriate sermon. The deceased was a young Englishman, who had purchased property in the district, and had planted out a young orchard just previous to the war breaking out. He had a promising future before him, but as soon as the call came for recruits, he and W. Brailsford (another young Englishman who had settled in the district) were amongst the first to volunteer from here”.
In 1934 the hall was considerably enlarged. The Mercury reported:
“The 21st anniversary of the opening of the Church of England Hall at Bridgenorth was commemorated on Saturday evening by the official opening of the hall extension by the Minister for Lands and Works (Mr. Nell Campbell, M.H.A.) At a ball there was a record attendance. Mr. Campbell, who was Introduced by Councillor C. B. Brady (Warden of Beaconsfield) congratulated the committee of management on its foresight In carrying out the extension, which made the dimensions of the hall 105ft. x 25ft.".
"The hall was built during the rectorship of the Rev. C. Macmichael, as a church and hall. The original secretary (Councillor A. H. Lack) still held office, and Messrs. C. Lack, L. French, G. Walters, and L. Morrison, original members of the committee, took active parts in the welfare of the hall. Messrs. W. Brailsford and E. Olley, both members of the first committee, made the supreme sacrifice at the Great War. For many years the hall was sufficiently big for the district, but lately it has become a popular rendezvous for dancers from Launceston and surrounding districts, and the attendance on Saturday night exemplified the necessity for the extension….”
In 1953 it was suggested that the Bridgenorth Anglican congregation affiliate with St Oswald’s parish at Trevallyn. However, it was resolved that the church remain in the Beaconsfield parish. By the 1970s the hall was still being used for monthly religious services as a part of the Beaconsfield parish. The date which services ceased is not known.
The date of the Bridgenorth Hall’s closure and sale is not known. The building still stands and has been converted into a house.
|The Bridgenorth Church Hall in 1913 (Weekly Courier)|
Examiner, Friday 6 September 1912, page 6
Daily Telegraph, Friday 17 January 1913, page 7
Weekly Courier, Thursday 22 May 1913, page 19
Daily Telegraph, Saturday 31 May 1913, page 12
Examiner, Thursday 5 June 1913, page 3
Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 20 September 1916, page 8
Daily Telegraph, Saturday 3 February 1917, page 4
Mercury, Tuesday 29 May 1934, page 7
Examiner, Saturday 25 July 1953, page 20
Henslowe, Dorothea I and Hurburgh, Isa. Our heritage of Anglican churches in Tasmania / by Dorothea I. Henslowe ; sketches by Isa Hurburgh s.n. 1978