No. 1411 - Launceston - Wesleyan Centenary House [Wesley Chambers] (1839)

This article is one of a series about buildings associated with Tasmania’s historical churches. These buildings include Sunday schools, parish halls, convents, schools and residences of the clergy. Ancillary buildings are often overlooked and rarely feature in published histories. My aim is to create a simple record of these buildings, including of those that no longer exist.

Behind the Federation facade of Wesley Chambers on Patterson Street in Launceston, stands a much older building. It was called ‘Wesleyan Centenary House’ and was constructed in 1839 as a residence for Launceston’s ‘Methodist Missionary’. The year 1839 marked the centenary of the establishment of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in England.

In 1832 the Methodist cause had been revived in Launceston by a local preacher, Mr Francis French, who held services on the Windmill Hill. This was the beginning of the Launceston Methodist Society which established a church on Paterson Street. Following the approval of a grant of land on Paterson Street by Governor Arthur, a church opened in 1835 with the first resident minister being Reverend John Allen Manton.

In 1839 Launceston’s Methodist Society established a centenary fund to commemorate the establishment of the Wesleyan movement. An amount of almost £1400 was collected of which £100 was sent to England “to swell the general Centenary Fund”. A portion of the remaining money was “appropriated to the erection of a house for the missionary in this town”. The remaining funds were used to pay off the small debt on the Paterson Street chapel.

In late 1839 the construction of a residence began for the new minister, Reverend William Simpson, on a site alongside the chapel. This building served as a ‘Methodist parsonage’ for many years until a new residence was built some distance from the church. In about 1910 the building was redeveloped by the Methodist Church Trust when a Federation facade added and the interior furnished with offices. It was renamed Wesley Chambers in recognition of its origins as a building associated with the Methodist Church.

The building is still used as commercial premises and the original 1839 house can still be discerned from the roadway which separates it from the Pilgrim Uniting Church Hall.

Wesleyan Centenary House on Paterson Street. Source: Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. [QVM:1983:P:0133] Burrows and Co.

Wesley Chambers on Paterson Street. The Federation facade was added to the original building in about 1910. Source: Libraries Tasmania (1974)  Lloyd George Webb (NG2692)


Colonial Record, Monday 20 May 1839, page 1
Cornwall Chronicle, Saturday 2 November 1839, page 3
The Mercury, Friday 1 April 1932, page 5


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