No. 1458 - Mengha - Presbyterian Church

This article is one in a series about public buildings in country areas that were used as places of worship. In these communities churches may have been planned but were never built due to lack of finance or changing circumstances. In most settlements, before a church was built, worship was typically held in homes, schoolrooms, barns, halls and other buildings. Conversely, in some communities, churches were sometimes the first public building erected and were used as schools and community halls. The focus of this series will primarily be on the public halls and schools that were used as churches. These buildings, and the religious communities which used them, are often overlooked in published histories of churches.

Mengha is rural farming district on the northwest coast and lies south of the Stanley. The original name of the area was “Medwin” but this was changed to Mengha in 1905. The Medwin’s were pioneering family who opened up the district of South Forest during the 1840s.

A Presbyterian community worshipped in the Mengha State school from about 1905. The church was active for a period of nearly 40 years and while the construction of a church was considered, one was never built.

In 1928 there was a discussion within the community about constructing either a public hall, a church, or combined church and hall at Mengha. A correspondent to the Circular Head Chronicle wrote:

“The Government some time back conceded to the people Mengha a grant of land for a Town Hall, and another grant for a sports or recreation ground…. In and around Mengha seems to be a stronghold of the Presbyterian denomi­nation; and there is talk of their building a church, and, as the town of Mengha sent only one soldier to the front in the big upheaval of Europe a few years ago, the people think of commemorating him by calling it a memorial church. In this case the people of Forest will be asked to change the, misappropriated name of Mengha Soldiers Memorial Hall….”.

The existence of a Memorial Hall at nearby South Forest (which had been built in 1925), mitigated against a combined public hall and church being erected at Mengha. In 1929 a new State school was built at Mengha and Presbyterian services continued in the new building.

In 1932 the question of acquiring a church for Mengha was again in the news when the Presbyterian Church granted permission for the removal of an old church from Nabageena to Mengha, where a block of land had been donated for a church. Although the church at Nabageena was owned by the Presbyterians, it was used by the local Methodist community. For reasons not known the Nabageena church was not moved and continued to be used by the Methodists until the 1950s.

The Presbyterians continued to use the Mengha State school as a fully functioning church as is evidenced by a report in the Circular Head Chronicle from August 1938:

“Before a large congregation the organ recently purchased by members of the Presbyterian church was dedicated by the Rev. Alister McLean from Smithton. There were visitors from Smithton, Alcomie and Stanley. Mrs B. Easton and Rose Leatherbarrow rendered duets and Mr McClean and Mrs Easton also sang….The members of the church are very much indebted to Miss Austin of Stanley, who made it possible to purchase a fine instrument at so reasonable a cost”.

However the end of 1938 brought the news that the Mengha State school was to close and the building was to be moved to the school at Forest. This presented a challenge to the Presbyterians who had used the school since 1905. In February 1939, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, while visiting Stanley, “expressed his hope that the church would soon have a permanent place of worship in the Mengha district”. However, this hope was not to be realised. The Presbyterian community continued to gather to worship at homes until the mid 1940s when services ceased.

One of many newspaper reports concerning Mengha's Presbyterian church (The Advocate 1931)

The Mengha district lies directly south of Stanley and Forest (


North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Thursday 19 October 1905, page 2
Circular Head Chronicle, Wednesday 6 April 1927, page 4
Circular Head Chronicle, Wednesday 14 March 1928, page 3
Circular Head Chronicle, Wednesday 10 July 1929, page 3
Advocate, Wednesday 4 February 1931, page 6
Advocate, Saturday 12 March 1932, page 6
Circular Head Chronicle, Wednesday 1 May 1935, page 2
Advocate, Thursday 26 March 1936, page 10
Circular Head Chronicle, Wednesday 17 August 1938, page 2
Circular Head Chronicle, Wednesday 21 December 1938, page 2
Advocate, Thursday 23 February 1939, page 6
Advocate, Monday 27 November 1939, page 6
Circular Head Chronicle, Wednesday 14 April 1943, page 3


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