No. 1415 - Kingston - Primitive Methodist Chapel (1863)

Kingston is a large town located approximately 12 kilometres south of Hobart. The area was first settled in 1804 and was known as Brown’s River, after Scottish botanist Robert Brown, who had visited the area. The settlement was developed as a town in the 1830s which officially adopted the name Kingston in 1882.

The Primitive Methodist movement began in 1808 and was led by Methodist lay preacher Hugh Bourne, who had been expelled from the British Methodist movement. Bourne and his followers became known as Primitive Methodists, meaning ‘first’ or ‘original’. Bourne's followers were also disparagingly called ‘Ranters’, a reference to their crude and often noisy preaching. Their outdoor camp meetings generally attracted the working classes who sometimes did not feel that they were accepted by the Wesleyan Methodists.

The centre of Primitive Methodism in Tasmania was at Launceston while the movement was far less successful in Hobart and the South. Wallace Barns traces the establishment of the church in Hobart in the booklet ‘A History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion in Tasmania’:

“Before the arrival of E.C. Pritchard in late 1860, laymen went from Launceston to begin missioning in Hobart Town. But the cause in Hobart was never strong, probably because of the sociological fact that Primitive Methodism had an appeal to the working class and Hobart, with its elegant society had a class consciousness that placed firm restrictions upon movement within society. This meant a certain lack in evangelistic zeal, for too much enthusiasm as shown in open-air preaching etc. was thought a little fanatical”.

Charles Dugan’s ‘Century of Tasmanian Methodism’ states that the first first service at Hobart was held in a large room at the lower end of Argyle Street. Further meetings were held in a building in Argyle Street between Macquarie and Collins Streets. In 1860 the British Primitive Methodist Conference appointed Edward Cook Pritchard to Hobart, where he arrived in late 1860. Prior to this a local preacher, John Shepherd, had moved to Hobart and carried out work in preparation for the new missionary.

In 1861 the Knox Chapel was purchased at a cost of £850. The first service were held on Sunday 21 April 1861 and the chapel was officially opened on Sunday 19 May. A General Missionary Society was established and revival meetings were held at the Cascades. In winter meetings were held indoors and in summer open-air gatherings were the norm.

From the Collin’s Street base, Primitive Methodist communities and ‘preaching places’ were established at Kingston, Snug, Margate and Woodbridge. In Hobart ‘preaching places’ were established at Summerleas; Arthur Street; Goulburn Street; Sackville Street; Sandy Bay and New Town.

The chapel at Kingston was built in 1863 at a cost of £85. The weatherboard building could seat about 80 worshippers. It was located on what later became Roslyn Avenue. After about three years services ceased but these were resumed in December 1868. Prior to its reopening the chapel was used a meeting place and in 1867 ‘Temperance’ meetings were held in the building.

After the 1860s worship at the chapel was intermittent and the Primitive Methodist cause never really developed at Kingston although camp meetings were held to recruit members to the church. By the 1880s services ceased and in March 1898 the chapel was sold.

The Mercury, January 1867


The Advertiser, Wednesday 18 November 1863, page 3
The Advertiser, Monday 23 November 1863, page 3
The Mercury, Monday 23 January 1867, page 3

Barns, Wallace. and Methodist Church of Australasia.  A history of the primitive Methodist connexion in Tasmania, 1857-1902 : an abridgement  Methodist Church of Australia, Victoria and Tasmania Conference, Tasmanian Division [Launceston, Tas  1970

Dugan, C. C.  A century of Tasmanian Methodism, 1820-1920 / by C.C. Dugan  Tasmania Methodist Assembly [Hobart]  1920

Stansall, M. E. J. and Methodist Church of Australasia.  Tasmanian Methodism, 1820-1975 / [by M.E.J. Stansall ... et al]  Methodist Church of Australasia Launceston, Tas  1975


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