No. 1422 - Rosebery - Uniting Church [Methodist] (1930)

Rosebery is a mining town located on the Murchison Highway approximately 60 kilometres north of Queenstown. The town’s name is taken from a mining claim established by Tom McDonald in 1893. It was named the Rosebery Gold Mining Company after the Prime Minister of England, Archibald Philip Primrose, The Earl of Rosebery.

The develop of the town only got underway in the 1920s. In February 1930 a visitor to Rosebery remarked on the development that had recently taken place:

“Since our last visit over three years ago, Rosebery has made immense strides, and a new town has practically arisen. Building operations are still going on to provide new houses and places of worship. Ringed around by mountains of imposing height - Mounts Murchison, Read and Black, and by lower heights, clothed by trees and bush, Rosebery is really beautifully situated, and might be considered a most delectable residential town, if it were not for the heavy rainfall, the roads, alternately dusty and muddy, and the comparatively few days of sunshine and warmth”.

“A deep gully through which flows the River Styx, separates the railway from the town, which is approached from the station by a winding road nearly two miles long. The houses are built in irregular lines along the hillsides, or perched on bits of high ground, forming rough and unfinished streets….There are some 300 men employed in the mine and the extensive workshops surrounding it, besides builders, carpenters, etc., who are working on houses and public buildings… As regards the accommodation for religious services, there are no permanent buildings yet. The Anglican Church holds its services in the Odd Fellows, Hall, while the Methodist Church meets every Sunday for one service …in the Public Hall. Three churches are, however, in the course of erection, or are shortly to be built, for the Anglicans, the Methodists and the Roman Catholics”.

According to Reverend Max Stansall’s history of Tasmanian Methodism, a Methodist church was formed at Rosebery in the 1890s:

“The first Wesleyan service was held under difficult circumstances in a Mr. Eckberg’s carpenter’s workshop in 1897. The minister was Rev. W.R. Featonby of the Dundas-Ringville-Mount Read Home Mission. A church was built in 1898. Where it was located and what happened to it are now unknown. At that stage mining in that field was less than had been expected. The population declined and the church closed”.

In the 1920s the Electronic Zinc Company began mining operations at Rosebery and a new town was built. In 1928 Methodist services were resumed in the town and in 1929 plan were made to build a church.

In May 1930 the Rita Williams Memorial Church was officially opened as a memorial to the wife of Reverend Robert Williams, Chairman of the Tasmanian Methodist Assembly.

The Burnie Advocate carried a report of the church’s official opening which took place on Sunday 4 May 1930:

“The Rita Williams Memorial Church was opened on Sunday by Rev. Robt. Williams, chairman of the Tasmanian Assembly. There were splendid congregations at all the services. The church, which is situated in an excellent position on the corner of Read and Murchison streets, has been constructed of weathered iron; with three ply hoop pine ceiling and interior walls, with a hardwood dado. The whole of the furnishings were presented to the church by Methodist young people's movements throughout the State, while £85 was subscribed in Victoria. The church is in the happy position of being absolutely free of debt…. Rev. Williams presented the pulpit, which is a splendid piece of work in Tasmanian hardwood”.

“During the morning service, Miss Williams unveiled the tablet, dedicating the work of the church to the memory of her. mother, who died on June 23, 1929. The furnishings were then dedicated by Mrs. P. T. Cleverdon. The dedication of the trustees followed, by the Rev. Williams….At the children's service in the afternoon, there was an excellent attendance. Two babies were baptised, while an address was given by Mrs. Cleverdon. The evening service, conducted by Mr. Williams, was largely attended, there being insufficient seating accommodation for the congregation….On Monday night, a pleasant social gathering was held, and a very large number attended….Two presentations were made to Mr. [Marcus] Shoobridge, in recognition of his services in the establishment of the church. He was responsible for most of the excavating and levelling, and while building operations were progressing he devoted the whole of his spare time to clearing and levelling the remainder of the block…..”.

A Sunday school was built in 1954 followed by a parsonage in 1956. In 1971 a joint Methodist-Presbyterian congregation was formed at Rosebery preceding the formation of the Uniting Church in 1977.

The date of the last service at the church and its closure is not known The building was sold in July 2005 and was subsequently converted into a house.

The former Rosebery Uniting Church - Google Street-view (2022)

The former Rosebery Uniting Church - photographer: Derek Flannery (2023) - Australia's Christian Heritage.


Advocate, Thursday 17 October 1929, page 4
Advocate, Thursday 13 February 1930, page 6
Examiner, Saturday 3 May 1930, page 11
Advocate, Thursday 8 May 1930, page 8
Mercury, Monday 12 May 1930, page 3

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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