No. 1405 - Hobart - Collins Street Christians' Chapel (1886)

The former ‘Christians’ Chapel’ on Collins Street was the third place of worship established by the Church of Christ in Hobart. It replaced a chapel built at Lower Harrington Street in 1881. [See No. 1401]

The first members of the Church of Christ arrived in Tasmania in 1865 and soon after established a ‘Meeting House’ 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'.

A church was established at Hobart in 1872 by Oliver Carr who began preaching in the old Particular Baptist Chapel on Harrington Street. Services then moved to 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.

In the 1870s, under the leadership of the evangelist George Bickford Moysey, the congregation grew rapidly. 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 “constructed of red brick, with facings of rough stone round the windows and doors”. It was built at a cost of £800 and could accomodate about 300 hundred worshippers. 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, designed by Henry Hunter was built on Collins Street. Little is known about the construction of the new building and details of the opening service on 12 December 1886 are not recorded. A possible reason for this is that at this time the church did not have an “evangelist” (preacher) and services were conducted by local men. Another complicating factor regarding the history of early years of the Collins Street chapel is that its records were destroyed in the 1967 bushfires, a consequence of these being stored at the home of one of the members of the congregation.

The chapel is a lesser known work of architect Henry Hunter, the designer of over 20 Tasmanian churches. It is single storey, stuccoed late Victorian chapel with a symmetrical facade, with a round arched central doorway, flanked by two windows of the same shape. Decorative tracery is a feature of each opening. There is also an ornate parapet upon which is written 'Christians' Chapel'. The building is heritage listed.

Services at the Collins Street Chapel ended in 1992 when the Church of Christ relocated to a much needed larger building located on a site between Liverpool Street and Goulburn Street. The new building was developed from the former premises of ‘Hobart Plumbing Supply’. The old Collins Street chapel was sold and is now used as offices.

*The history of the first church will feature in an upcoming article.

The Christians' Chapel (c.1897) Photographer: Henry Lewis. Tasmanian Archives - Libraries Tasmania online - item number: LPIC22/1/107 

A recent photograph of the Chapel. Photographer - Colin Chick

Mercury, Wednesday 24 February 1886

Launceston Examiner, Friday 14 May 1886


Mercury, Wednesday 24 February 1886, page 3
Tasmanian News, Thursday 25 February 1886, page 3
Launceston Examiner, Friday 14 May 1886, page 3
Mercury, Friday 26 February 1932, page 7
The Mercury, Thursday 26 March 1992

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


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