No. 1454 - Longford - Methodist Sunday School (1902)

This article is one of a series about buildings associated with Tasmania’s historical churches.These buildings include Sunday schools, parish halls, convents, schools and residences of the clergy. Ancillary buildings are often overlooked and rarely feature in published histories. My aim is to create a simple record of these buildings, including of those that no longer exist.

Longford is an historical country town approximately 25 kilometres south of Launceston. The district around Longford was first known as the Norfolk Plains after the Norfolk Islanders who were resettled here in 1813.

The Wesleyan-Methodist activity at Longford began in 1834 under the guidance of Reverend John Manton of Launceston. In 1836 the first chapel was built on Wellington Street on land donated by Joseph Heazlewood. Due to faulty foundations the building became unstable and was deemed too expensive to repair. In 1880 a new church was built on High Street while the Wellington street building was used as a Sunday school. Also active in Longford were the Primitive Methodists who built their own chapel in 1861.

The Methodist Union of 1902 brought together the Primitive Methodists and Wesleyan Methodists to form the new Methodist Church. At Longford the merger of the two Methodist congregations created a need for improved and enlarged Sunday school building. In November 1901 the Launceston Examiner reported:

“The services in connection with the 55th anniversary of the Longford Wesleyan Sunday-school were very successful. Mr. E. E. Solomon presided at the public meeting, at which the report of the school was read, showing the number of scholars to be 123. Addresses were delivered by the Rev. B. Bayles, Messrs. T. Owen. and J. Lee…. The children's picnic and a public tea-meeting followed. This is the last anniversary of the Wesleyan Sunday-school as it is now united to the Primitive Methodist Sunday school, and the combined schools will henceforth be known as the Methodist Church Sunday-school. The one branch has been 55 years in existence, and the other nearly 40. A new schoolroom is about to be erected which will provide increased accommodation for the large number of scholars attending and it is to be hoped that the efforts put forth by the union will be as great a power for usefulness as the separate schools have been in the past…”.

The combined Sunday schools met in Forester’s Hall until the new school rooms were completed in the latter half of 1902. Construction of the new school got underway in February 1902. The Daily Telegraph reported:

“It was decided, after plans had been submitted, to erect a new building in front of the old one, the dimensions of which will be 40ft. x 22ft. An end view of the building will show two large windows and a porch on the side, facing the street, giving it a very neat appearance. Messrs. J. and T. Gunn have the contract, the cost of which will be £316”.

The Sunday school building was sold in 1972. The heritage listed building still stands and has been used as tourist accomodation and as a home.


The old Sunday School on Wellington Street (2023)

A photograph of the new Sunday school taken soon after its completion in 1902. Photograph: Libraries Tasmania
The heritage listed building stands on the site of the original Wesleyan Methodist chapel.



Sources:

Examiner, Wednesday 27 November 1901, page 3
Daily Telegraph, Monday 17 February 1902, page 3

150 Years of Witness (1834-1984), pamphlet (Longford Parish - Uniting Church of Australia)

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