No. 1451 - Franklin - Congregational Church (1843-1938)

Franklin is a small town on the Huon Highway approximately 45 kilometres south of Hobart. Settled in 1804, it was the first settlement in the Huon area. It was named a Governor of Tasmania Sir John Franklin and his wife Lady Jane Franklin. Until the 1930s Franklin was the major town in the Huon Valley with its own court house, several hotels a Town Hall and four churches.

The former Congregational church at Franklin was the oldest Congregational church in the Huon Valley. The building was demolished in the early 1940s. The church stood on Price Street (later renamed Kent Street).

Congregational services were first held at Franklin in 1843 in a small room lent by Mr James Coleman. A Sunday School was started at the same time. A little weatherboard church was built by Mr William Geeves with financial assistance from Mr Henry Hopkins, of Hobart.

In 1859 construction of a new stone church began with the foundation stone ceremonially laid on Monday 28 March.

“The Foundation Stone of the new Congregational Chapel was laid by Henry Hopkins, Esq., in the presence of a large and respectable assemblage of both sexes. That gentleman was accompanied by a goodly number of friends from the City…..The moment the Culloden arrived, the settlers gathered on the spot where a new edifice for Divine Worship is to be erected, and evinced that serious, thoughtful, religious state of mind in harmony with the sacredness of the object they had in view. The Rev. H. B. Giles, the resident Missionary, opened the proceedings by giving out an appropriate hymn, and the Rev. P. Miller of Hobart engaged in prayer. The usual document for depositing in the stone was then read aloud, and Mr. Hopkins, with much simplicity and fervour, performed the interesting duty of laying it…”.

The new building was officially opened on Sunday 22 January 1860.

“The new Congregational Church recently erected at Franklin was set apart for Divine Worship on Sunday last. The Rev. G. Clarke officiated morning and evening, and the resident missionary, Mr Giles conducted the service of the afternoon….. There is nothing elaborate in the structure—Gothic in style, neat in appearance, commodious in its internal arrangements, — it is sufficiently adorned to keep it in good taste with the sacred objects to which it is dedicated…”.

The church was built by, Messrs. Hay at a cost of £375. The original weatherboard church was retained for use as a Sunday school which was attached to the rear of the new building.

In June 1914 plans were approved to rebuild the church on a site donated by Mr M.B. Barnett that was closer to the centre of town “with frontage on the Main Road, and back entrance on the New Road”. The scheme did not proceed most likely as a result of the intervention of the Great War.

A decline in Franklin’s population as well costly repairs to the stone building eventually led to the church’s closure in the late 1930s. In 1938 a tender was advertised for the sale of the building and it was subsequently demolished.

Franklin Congregational Church. The photograph was probably taken at the time of the opening of the new church in 1860. The original weatherboard church can be seen at the rear of the building. Photograph: Libraries Tasmania - item: PH30-1-8753




Hobart Town Advertiser, Tuesday 17 January 1860


Huon and Derwent Times (1938)


Sources:

Tasmanian Telegraph, Saturday 2 April 1859, page 5
Hobart Town Daily Mercury, Thursday 31 March 1859, page 3
Hobart Town Advertiser, Tuesday 17 January 1860, page 1
Hobart Town Advertiser, Friday 27 January 1860, page 3
Huon Times, Saturday 13 June 1914, page 7
Huon Times, Friday 10 June 1921, page 2
Huon Times, Friday 5 September 1930, page 2
Huon and Derwent Times, Thursday 10 March 1938, page 4
Mercury, Saturday 12 August 1939, page 10

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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