No. 1441 - Hobart - Murray Street Gospel Hall (1917-2003)

The former ‘open’ Christian Brethren Gospel Hall on Murray Street was the first place of worship built by the Brethren in Hobart. The Brethren community had previously worshipped at a number locations including the Harrington Street Baptist Chapel and the Mariners Church on the wharf.

The Brethren arrived in Australia in the 1860s as a result of the work of immigrant English evangelists following the 1859 revival. These included Frank Brewster, John Baird, William Brown, Charles Perrin and many others. The evangelists preached to large congregations and won converts who established local assemblies and built gospel halls.

In May 1898 the Hobart Brethren rented the formerHarrington Street Baptist chapel. [see No. 631] For the next 9 years the “Harrington Street Gospel Hall” hosted visiting preachers and overseas missionaries who regularly addressed meetings.

In 1906 the Harrington Street premises was sold by the Baptist Union which forced the Brethren to seek new premises. In April 1906 the Mercury reported:

“For some time past services of an evangelical character have been held by a body of Christ known as the "Brethren" in a Gospel-hall at the corner of Bathurst and Harrington streets. This has recently been sold, and the "Brethren" had to find some other building. The old Mariners' Church, although in a sad state of disrepair, seemed admirably suited for the purpose, so the trustees were approached; the building was leased, about £30 was spent in renovating the interior, and a public subscription was got up for erecting a fence round the building, and for other necessary repairs….The building was re-opened last (Sunday) evening, when the first of what promises to be a regular series of services for mariners and others was held….”.

Worship continued to take place at the Mariners church until 1916 when the building was dismantled and removed to Sandy Bay in the following year. [see No. 1302]

After many years of renting premises the Brethren elected to build place of worship. The foundation stone for a gospel hall on Murray Street was laid on Saturday 3 February 1917. The Mercury reported:

“The trustees of the Mariners' Church, Hobart, some time ago disposed of their property on the wharf, and the old building, in which services have been conducted for many years by the Open Brethren, is to be vacated. An allotment of ground in Murray-street, just below Melville-street, has been purchased, and a start has been made with the erection on it of a building to take the place of the Mariners’ Church”.

“On Saturday evening the foundation stone of the new building was laid by Mr. Charles Crosby, of Melbourne, and a service of prayer and thanksgiving was held on the ground. Mr. George Finlayson said a short, opening prayer, after which Mr. T. C. Button, of Oatlands, read the third chapter of the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, and asked Mr. Crosby to perform the ceremony of laying the stone, under which were placed some scriptural passages. Mr. Crosby, after declaring the stone well and faithfully laid, expressed his pleasure at being present to perform the ceremony….Several hymns were sung, and Mr. J. H. Todd, of Melbourne, read a few passages of scripture, and said a closing prayer”.

“The new building, which it is expected will be completed in April, is being constructed of red brick, and will be approached by cement steps, from Murray-street. It will consist of a main hall measuring 45ft. by 29ft., with several ante-rooms at the back, and two small rooms, one of which is to be used as a library, at the front. Messrs. Barnes and White, of Hobart, are the builders”.


The building was officially opened on Sunday 16 April 1917. The Daily Post reported:

“Through the Mariners' Church having been sold the Christians who met there for the past eleven years have erected a new hall in Murray street, to be known as the ''Gospel Hall." On Sunday the opening services were held, and large congregations attended. The service at 3 p.m. was commenced by singing the well-known and favourite hymn "All people that on earth do dwell." Mr. Charles Crosby, from Melbourne, followed with an address, stating that the object of the new building was for the worship and service of God, and in some well chosen words he set forth the doctrines that were held and taught by those who would preach here….Mr. Woods, evangelist, from Victoria, then gave his first address in Hobart, and he was listened to with marked attention….The opening services were concluded on Monday, when again a large number assembled in the hall….”.

The Murray Street Gospel Hall was used a place of worship for over 80 years before the Brethren moved to new premises. The last service was held in 2003 and the building was subsequently sold. The Brethren now worship at the Hope Christian Centre located in the former ‘Sunbeam Warehouse’ on Tasma Street in North Hobart.

The Gospel Hall, renamed the Murray Street Chapel (1977) Photographer: Margaret Bryant - Libraries Tasmania - Item number: NS3373/1/308


A recent photograph of the building with a remodelled entry - photograph - realestate.com

The interior of the chapel was horizontally partitioned after it was converted into commercial premises. Photograph: realestate.com

photo: realestate.com

The Murray Street congregation outside the hall. Photo: The Hope Christian Centre


Sources:

Mercury, Monday 5 February 1917, page 2
Daily Post, Tuesday 17 April 1917, page 4
Mercury, Tuesday 17 April 1917, page 6
Mercury, 5 April 2019

https://www.utas.edu.au/library/companion_to_tasmanian_history/C/Christian%20Brethren.htm





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