BETHEL CHAPEL. THE want of accommodation for public worship at the wharf, has long been a subject of regret. Services have sometimes been held during summer on the decks of vessels, but no united effort has been made in this town to supply the spiritual destitution of seamen visiting the port. It is seldom that sailors leave their vessels on the Sabbath to enter a church; but a bethel chapel is peculiarly their own; and at Sydney and Hobart Town the attendance is generally good. We are gratified to learn, that his Excellency has acceded to a request recently made, and has sanctioned the erection of a place of worship on the wharf for the use of seafaring men. The chapel will be built by public subscription, on the north side, and immediately adjoining the custom-house shed, and sup plied in rotation by clergymen belonging to various denominations.
Launceston Examiner, 19 July 1845
ERRATUM.-The Bethel Chapel will be erected on the south side of the custom-house shed, and not on the north, as erroneously printed in our last.
Launceston Examiner, 23 July 1845
The Bethel Chapel.— This little edifice is in course of erection by Messrs. Twinning and Burton. It stands in an eligible situation, and will be a great convenience to the seafaring men and others for whose benefit it is intended When completed, the Bethel will be the twelfth place of worship existing in Launceston.
Cornwall Chronicle, 18 July 1846
Two extracts form a longer article:
Henry Reed, Esq., was called to the chair, and opened the business, by expressing the sincere pleasure he felt in presiding upon such an occasion. A place of worship for the especial accommodation of seamen had long been urgently required in Launceston, and the trade which was increasing every year, rendered it necessary for the credit of the port, that some such provision should be made. He came to that meeting expecting to find a half finished building; but he was surprised to find it completed, and-fit for occupation. He had no doubt means would be devised in course of the evening, by which the Chapel would immediately become available for the purposes for which it was intended.
The Rev. C. Price, secretary, explained the circumstances which had led to the erection of the chapel. It was first suggested at a meeting of the ministers of the Christian Union, that an application should be made to Sir Eardley Wilmot for a piece of ground, and this suggestion having been adopted, Sir Eardley readily complied and granted the eligible site upon which the building was erected. The next step was to procure funds to carry forward the work, and a committee was appointed to collect.
The collection amounted to the handsome sum of £88, leaving a debt of £62 2s. To meet this some few remained behind, who guaranteed to collect the amount. The chapel will therefore be opened on Sunday afternoon next. It was also resolved to erect a fence round the building. The appeal of these gentlemen to the liberal public of Launceston, we have no doubt will be met with that generous spirit by which it has always been distinguished.
Launceston Examiner 6 February 1847
In 1852 there was a need for funds from the government for “the rebuilding of the Landing Waiter’s Office and Sheds at Launceston;—and the removal of the Bethel Chapel, which would have been rendered a matter of pressing necessity,— the late floods having made the present building wholly untenantable.”
Ten years later….
We are glad to announce that an association has been formed for the purpose of establishing a Free and Industrial School on the wharf, in the building known as the Bethel Chapel. Mr. Alfred Harrap has been appointed President of the Association, Mr William Ritchie Treasurer, and Mr. A. W. Birchall Hon. Secretary; the other promoters being Meesrs. Wm. Tyson, sen., John Drysdale, and James Davies. A ladies committee has been formed, whose first duty will be to collect subscriptions, and it is to be hoped that the townspeople will support such a laudable movement.
Launceston Examiner, 21 June 1862
Another ten years later…
THE GOVERNOR AND THE LAUNCESTON RAGGED SCHOOLS. — A few years ago the present Mayor, aided by some benevolent ladies and gentlemen, established an excel lent day school at the Bethel Chapel on the wharf, and it effected much good in the part of the town, as long as funds could be raised lo pay the teachers. The money was given grudgingly by those who felt that the school ought to be supported from the fund entrusted to the Board or Education, and at last the committee, finding they were responsible for debts on behalf of the school, reluctantly discontinued it, and adopted moans to pay the arrears.
Cornwall Chronicle, 21 February 1872
The end came in 1878:
NEW LANDING WAITER’S OFFICE.–It is in contemplation to pull down the present landing waiter’s office and the adjoining Bethel chapel, which from their wretchedly damp and dirty appearance have long been an eyesore. We were therefore glad to hear that their demolition had been decided upon, but we are disappointed at learning that a new landing-waiter’s office is to be erected on the site of the present one.
Launceston Examiner, 22 October 1878