No. 1401 - Hobart - Christians' Chapel - Lower Harrington Street (1881-1885)

The ‘Christians' Chapel’ on Lower Harrington Street (1881) was the second place of worship established by the Church of Christ in Hobart. The building was only used for a few years before it was replaced by a third chapel which opened on Collins Street in 1886.

The first members of the Church of Christ arrived in Tasmania in 1865 and established a ‘Meeting House’ was established at Northdown near Latrobe. In the 1870s churches were set up in Launceston and Hobart. Initially the group identified themselves as the ‘Christians’. After 1885 they were known as the 'Disciples of Christ' and from 1915 as the 'Churches of Christ'.

The church at Hobart was established in 1872 by Oliver Carr who began preaching in the old Particular Baptist Chapel on Harrington Street. Services were then held at the Oddfellows Hall and the People’s Hall on Bathurst Street. In July 1872 the former “School of Arts” building on Collins Street was acquired and the group worshipped there for the next 9 years. A prominent member of the congregation was John Bradley, who was later to become Chairman of the Hobart Stock Exchange and Member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly for South Hobart.

The Collins Street congregation grew in the 1870s under the leadership of the evangelist George Bickford Moysey. During this time services were also held at Cromwell Street in Battery Point while baptisms were conducted at the Public Baths at Sandy Bay.

In 1881 a chapel was built on a site on Lower Harrington Street. This was a substantial building as is revealed in a report describing the official opening on Sunday 6 March, which was published in the Hobart Mercury:

“Another place of worship was yesterday added to the many already existing in Hobart, in the shape of the Christians’ Chapel, which has been for some months in course of erection at the southern end of Harrington-street, fronting the Derwent School, and overlooking Montpellier street at the side. The congregation have for some nine years worshipped in the little building near the corner of Murray and Collins streets, which had been used for many purposes, and was certainly not so suitable to the Christians, as it may have been to some others who had it previously. Now, therefore, the congregation are to be congratulated on having erected a spacious building, which has been architecturally designed to suit their ritual, and which, though not having any pretensions to elaborate ornamentation, is solidly handsome, well ventilated, well lighted, and with good acoustics”.

“It is constructed of red brick, with facings of rough stone round the windows and doors. The length of the building is 74ft., and the width 34ft., a quasi-chancel arch separating the body of the chapel from the baptistry, which is formed of brick and cement. Gas is laid on, some pretty light reflectors adorning the ceiling, which, as well as the walls, is painted a light colour. The seats are of pine, including those on the platform on which those who are conducting the service sit”.

“The cost, including the site of the building, has been about £800, and the clerk of the works, Mr Bradley, speaks in the highest terms of the way in which the work has been carried out by the contractor, Mr. Stabb. The services yesterday were very well attended. In the morning the various brethren took part, and Mr. Thomas Exley, an Evangelist from America, delivered a short address; the "breaking of bread," which, in imitation of the disciples at Jerusalem, the Christians make a part of their weekly service, being also included. The Sunday school met in the building in the afternoon, and in the evening the Gospel was preached by Mr. Exley….”.

A week after the opening a fundraising “tea meeting” was held at the chapel. A report in the Mercury adds further details about the building and the Christian community:

“The inaugural tea meeting was held last evening in the Christians’ Chapel…The building had been very prettily decorated for the occasion by the ladies of the congregation and gentlemen assistants. Festoons of ivy and flowers adorned the walls. Flags hung over the windows. The screen erected at the back of the baptistry since the formal opening was hidden with branches of tree ferns, on which the word " Welcome” appeared in scarlet letters, and over the outer arch the text, "Praise, ye the Lord" was inscribed in red and gold, while stands for pot flowers in bloom adorned either side of the platform under it”.

“A party of about 400 persons sat down to an excellent tea, provided by Mr. C. D. Haywood, of Excelsior House, Elizabeth-street. There was enough for everybody and to spare…When the tables which had been erected had been removed, and the seats re-arranged, a public meeting was held, Mr. John Dalgleish occupying the chair, and giving both the opening prayer and the first address. Messrs. Exley, Ross, and Smith also addressed the meeting, and between their speeches hymns were sung by soloists, assisted by the choir of the chapel in choruses. No musical instrument was used to accompany the voices, this practice being in unison with the usual way in which the Christians conduct their services. The new back to the baptistry very much improves the acoustics of the building”.

Given the size of the building as well as its substantial cost, it is somewhat surprising to learn that it was abandoned within a few years. The reason given for this is that it was built in an unsuitable location which became untenable when the Harrington Street deviation was planned in 1885. The building was therefore sold and the congregation temporarily met in the Temperance Alliance Rooms and in the old Particular Baptist Chapel further up Harrington Street. In 1886 a new Chapel was built on Collins Street. The old chapel, which was later demolished, was located in the vicinity of what is now Kirksway Place.

Notice of the Chapel's opening (The Mercury)

Detail of an 1887 map of Hobart with the location of the Harrington Street chapel marked. [Plan of the City of Hobart and Suburbs 1887 - Tasmanian State Archive Item: AUTAS001139593792

The location of the Harrington street Chapel (Google street-view)

Evangelist George Bickford Moysey


Mercury, Friday 4 March 1881, page 1
Mercury, Saturday 5 March 1881, page 2
Mercury, Monday 7 March 1881, page 2
The Mercury, Tuesday 15 March 1881, page 2
Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), Wednesday 16 March 1881, page 2

Neville, Cecil C., History of the Collins street Church of Christ 1872-1991, Printing Authority of Tasmania, 1995.


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