No. 1433 - Southport - Congregational Church (1879-1967)

Southport is Australia's southernmost permanent township. It was settled in 1837 and for a short time it became the largest town south of Hobart. It was the site of a convict station, a whaling station and a substantial timber harvesting industry. It is now little more than a quiet seaside settlement with most of the original buildings destroyed in bushfires. Southport had two churches as well as a chapel serving the convict probation station.

Southport Congregational church was officially opened on Sunday 4 May 1879. The Hobart Mercury carried a brief report describing opening ceremony:

“An event has taken place at Southport which has caused quite a sensation the opening of the Congregational Church. For many years this place has been almost destitute of a Protestant Minister, until the Rev. D. Morris came. Preaching was continued for some time in the saw mill, and in an unfinished building. The inhabitants then saw the want of a church, so plans were prepared, and tenders accepted and all worked with a will. On Sabbath, May 4th; the church was duly opened, the Rev. D. Morris preaching at 2-30 and 6-30. The sermons, which were plain and practical, wear listened to with wrapt attention. Mrs. Mason presided at the harmonium, and led the singing. On Monday a tea meeting took place, which proved a grand success, the steamer brought some 78 people from Hastings, to join the friends at Southport; the tea was provided by the ladies of Southport, and though some 200 sat down, there was enough for all. After tea a meeting took place in the church, and though the building is made to seat 90 people, there were about 140 inside. selections of music were given by the Southport musical friends, assisted by friends from Hastings. Addresses were given by Messrs. Langley, and Heron, and the Pastor, Rev. P. Morris. Votes of thanks were passed to all who in any way assisted, and I am informed that through donations, tea; meeting, and friendly assistance from the people at Hastings, the building will be out of debt”.

The Congregational church was one of two dozen churches destroyed in bushfires which swept across southern Tasmania in 1967. It was not replaced leaving Southport without a church as the town’s Catholic church was destroyed in a bushfire in 1950.

Southport Congregational Church - Photograph courtesy of Shirley Ellis


Sources:

Mercury, Monday 12 May 1879, page 3

Sharples, Theo E and Congregational Union of Tasmania. Congregationalism in Tasmania, 1830-1977 : a brief history / compiled by Theo E. Sharples Congregational Union of Tasmania Hobart 1977 


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