No. 1501 - Bronte Park - St Paul's non-denominational Protestant Church (1952-1959)

Bronte Park is a former village on the Central Plateau built by the Hydro Electric Commission. It was established to house workers constructing the Tungatinah and Nive River schemes. By the early 1950s it accommodated 700 workers and the village had a store, police station, post office, school, cinema as well as two churches. When construction work ended in the late 1950s most of the workers left. The remains of the village were sold to a private operator in 1991.

Tasmania’s vast hydro-electric scheme dates back to 1914 when the Tasmanian Government bought a small electricity company in financial difficulty and created the Hydro-Electric Department. The first power station at Waddamana in the Great Lake Power Scheme was opened in 1916. Over a period of 80 years, 30 power stations and 54 major dams were built. Construction camps and villages were built to support major projects and during this period 10 villages were established, most of which had a full social infrastructure including a school, public hall and a church. After the Second World War, large numbers of migrants were recruited to construct dams and power stations. This brought English, Polish, German, Italian, Scandinavian and other migrants together with Tasmanians, creating lively and diverse communities.

Of the two churches built at Bronte Park, one was St Paul’s, a non-denomination Protestant Church which was owned by the Tasmanian Council of Churches. The other was a Catholic church dedicated to St Michael the Archangel.

In 1951 the Tasmanian Council of Churches reached an agreement with the Hydro-electric Commission whereby a sum of £500 would be granted for the construction of a non-denominational Protestant church. The Council of Churches had ownership of the building on condition that it be moved to successive Hydro-settlements when it was no longer required at Bronte Park.

The official opening of the church on Saturday 12 July 1952 is recorded in the Hobart newspaper, the Mercury:

“A church erected at Bronte Park by the Hydro Electric Commission for use by the Tasmanian Council of Churches was dedicated the Church of St. Paul by the president of the council (Archdeacon Barrett) on Saturday. The occasional address was delivered by the Moderator of delivered by the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (the Rev. A. M. McMaster), and others: the chairman of the Hobart Methodist district (the Rev. A. W. R. Milligan), the rector of Hamilton (the Rev. H. M. Maddock), representative of the Presbyterian parish of Bothwell (the Rev. R. J. Scrimgeour), the Methodist mobile missioner (Mr. J. Fullerton), and the Rev. H. L. Dunn. After the service, Messrs. Opie, Flattley, and Cresswell, of the local committee, welcomed visitors, and the general secretary of the Tasmanian Council of Churches (Mr. W. A, Morgan), responded….”.

Protestant services were conducted by Rev. W. Warburton of Tarraleah who visited Bronte Park once a fortnight. A Sunday school was held in the church which at its peak accommodated 115 students. in 1956 a building used at the Hilltop camp was moved to Bronte Park for use as a Sunday school. This building, along with the church, was moved to Poatina in 1959.

I have yet to locate a photograph of the church. The church’s location is indicated in a map of Bronte Park which is reproduced below.

Mercury Monday 14 July 1952

Map of Bronte Park - The two churches are located in the centre of the settlement as indicated on the map.  Source: Hydro Tasmania

Few photographs of Bronte Park are in the public domain.  This photograph shows the Works Office which was in the vicinity of the village's two churches.  Source: ABC - Bronte Park Village

Map of Bronte Park - The two churches are located in the centre of the settlement as indicated on the map.  Source: Hydro Tasmania


Advocate, Thursday 10 July 1952, page 5
Mercury, Monday 14 July 1952, page 6

Rackham, Sarah and Woodberry, Joan and Tasmania. Hydro-Electric Commission. Public Relations Department. Hydro construction villages. Volume Two. Butlers Gorge, Bronte Park, Trevallyn, Wayatinah / written and compiled by Sarah Rackham ; edited by Joan Woodberry Public Relations Dept., Hydro-Electric Commission, Tasmania [Hobart] 1982


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