No. 1465 - Springfield - Methodist Church (1870-1917) "Free from that ugly thing"

Springfield is a rural area which lies approximately 5 kilometres south of Scottsdale in north-east Tasmania. Although Springfield never developed into a town, the district was settled in the 1870s with a post office opening in 1876 followed by a school and public hall. The district once supported four churches with the Wesleyan Methodists being the first to establish a church in 1870.

In December 1870 a Methodist church was opened by Reverend John Harcourt on the property of Mr John Williams. Previously services had been held in a barn on the same property which were conducted by Reverend T.B. Inglis, a former Wesleyan Methodist minister. A record of the official opening of the new church on the 25 December 1870 was published by the Cornwall Chronicle:

“One of those pleasing events which mark the triumph and progress of truth, and which strongly indicate that the attitude of vital Christianity is not of a retrograde character, took place on Sunday, 25th instant, on which occasion the Rev. Mr Harcourt, of Launceston, preached in the morning and afternoon to large and attentive congregations….Collections were made after each service, amounting in all to £6, which, added to contributions previously received, make a total of nearly £12. This building has been erected upon land kindly given for the purpose by Mr J. Williams, and fronts the main road to Launceston via Pattersonia, immediately contiguous to large areas of land, the survey of which has just been completed by Mr Surveyor Coombes. The labor and materials with but a small exception have been generously given by the surrounding settlers.

The building, which is composed of split and sawn timber, is neatly and substantially built, measuring 30 feet by 17½ feet, and will seat one hundred persons. It is also free from that ugly thing which so disfigures, not to say disgraces, so many of our Christian churches— namely, debt — whilst a balance remains in the hands of the treasurer with which it is intended to purchase books, &c . for the Sabbath school, which is to be commenced on New Year's Day.

It is to be hoped that the erection of another temple in this forest-bound portion of Tasmania will be the means of diffusing light, life, and knowledge among the settlers, and tend in some degree to dispel the gloom which enshrouds the homesteads of the struggling settlers, created, to a considerable extent by the absence of those facilities for transit of produce. &c., in the shape of roads and bridges, the expectation of which, based upon Government promises, induced so many to select land and settle upon them, and who to this day. are struggling for a bare existence in consequence of the non-fulfilment of those promises….”.

In the late 1880s the church was moved from its original location alongside the Springfield Methodist cemetery to a new site opposite the Springfield Post Office donated by Mr T.D. Heazlewood. It was probably about this time that church acquired a pulpit from the Methodist church at Glenore near Westbury.

The subsequent history of the church is not well recorded and it is not known when services ceased. In 1915 the Scottsdale Methodist Trustees’ Annual Report notes:

“…there were seperate Trusts for the cemetery at Springfield, the church at the same place, and for the church at Scottsdale. Neither of the first Trusts had met for years, and though legally alive, were all intents and purposes dead - indeed, quite a number of Trustees have passed over to the majority”.

Consequently, the three Trusts were amalgamated. In October 1917 an advertisement was placed in the North-Eastern Advertiser calling for tenders for the purchase of the Springfield Methodist church. It is not clear what became of the building. In the book “Memories of Springfield”, Ray Wheatley suggests that the church was moved again for use as a storehouse at the general store. However it is recorded elsewhere that the church’s gothic windows were salvaged and used in a new Methodist church built at Bridport in 1919. It is also recorded that Mr E. Button, one of the Scottsdale church trustees, donated scantling for the Bridport church and this too may have come from the Springfield building.

When the Bridport church was replaced by a modern cement brick church in the 1990s, the old building was removed to a property at Branxholm. A photograph of the church at Branxholm is included in this article and I assume that its gothic windows are all that remain of the old Methodist church at Springfield.

An early photograph of the Springfield district. No photograph of the Methodist church has been found. Source: QVMAG

A notice placed in the North-Eastern Advertiser in October 1917. Mr. E. Button was one of the trustees of the Scottsdale Methodist Church

The former Bridport Methodist church was moved to Branxholm and converted into a garden cottage. The gothic windows in the building were salvaged from the Springfield Methodist church. (


Cornwall Chronicle, Monday 2 January 1871, page 3
Daily Telegraph, Tuesday 16 February 1909, page 3
North-Eastern Advertiser, Tuesday 1 February 1921, page 2
North-Eastern Advertiser, Friday 16 July 1915, page 3
North-Eastern Advertiser, Friday 19 October 1917, page 3
North-Eastern Advertiser, Friday 4 April 1919, page 2
Examiner, Thursday 1 November 1923, page 2

Stansall, M. E. J and Methodist Church of Australasia Tasmanian Methodism, 1820-1975 : compiled at the time of last Meeting of Methodism prior to union. Methodist Church of Australasia, Launceston, Tas, 1975.

Wheatley, Ray:  Memories of Springfield, Foot & Playsted, Launceston, 1989.


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