(former) Baptist Tabernacle, Launceston

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Cimitiere St, Launceston. Google Maps.
Opened 1884. Closed 1950.
Photo 1940s

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It is interesting to recall the work of this church in Tasmania. It commenced immediately after the arrival of Rev. Harry Dowling in Hobart on December 2, 1834. On July, 1834, the Governor (Sir George Arthur) issued a location order for the site of a church in Launceston. This site was in Brisbane-street, between Tamar-street and the City Park and abutted on a grant made to Rev. H. Price for the Tamar-street Congregational Church. Later this land was sold, and the site in York-street at present owned by the Baptist Union of Tasmania was bought for £200. On this the first Baptist Church in Tasmania was erected and opened for public worship on December 27, 1840. A manse was also built adjoining the church. Mr. Dowling carried on his ministry and lived in the manse until his death on March 29, 1869, at the age of 89 years. For 63 years of his life he had been actively engaged in the Christian ministry of the Baptist Church. It was not to the advantage of the work that one so old should have continued in the pastorate, and Mr. Dowling had fully recognised this, but owing to the difficulty of obtaining Baptist ministers in Australia in those years he had to continue. He was succeeded by Rev. William White, who carried on until his death on April 11, 1913, in his 86th year. As was also the case with the Congregational churches in Launceston, the cause suffered from excessively long pastorates of very aged men. As a result the Baptists in Launceston became very weak numerically and otherwise, when through the generosity of Mr. William Gibson, of Perth, it became possible to erect the church in Cimitiere-street known as the Tabernacle in 1884.
The Examiner, 14 March 1936

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OPENING OF THE NEW BAPTIST TABERNACLE.
INTRODUCTION.
Yesterday was a red-letter day in religious circles for the new Baptist Tabernacle, Cimitiere-street, was opened on that morning for Divine service. The weather was beautifully fine, although the air was somewhat cold, and a very large congregation assembled to hear the Rev. T. Spurgeon, son of the eminent and world-famed Rev. C. H. Spurgeon, of London, deliver the opening address. On the 7th of last June it will be remembered the foundation-stone was laid with much ceremony by Mrs William Gibson, in the presence of a large number of spectators, and since that period much interest has been taken in the progress of the edifice. Mr Harry Conway was the architect, and Mr James Hills, of Deloraine, the contractor; and much and deserving credit is due to them for the manner in which ?they have concluded their work. The building is a large one, capable of holding, we should say about 1500 persons. The hall, which has an inclined floor, is reached by large bluestone steps, whilst two flights of stairs on each side of the lobby lead to the gallery. The interior presents a plain but commodious appearance, the fittings being excellent. We may mention that Mr. Cocker, of Barrington, supplied from his farm some superior blackwood; which has been used in the ornamental work in the building ; while the handrailing of the gallery has also been obtained from the same source. Throughout, the interior no attempt at display of any sort has been made, but the whole presents what is preferable — a comfortable and commodious appearance. As our readers know, the , edifice has been erected at a cost of nearly £6000, and the generous hand of Messrs. William Gibson, of Native Point, and his son, Mr Wm. Gibson, of Scone, is observable in all the little details which make the whole so complete and perfect.

[continued]
Daily Telegraph, 26 May 1884

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The Baptist Tabernacle, Cimitiere St., Launceston, will house its last congregation to-morrow night. Later this month it will cease to be a church. The last service will be at tended by a combined congregation from the Tabernacle and the Memorial Baptist Church, Wellington St. Special addresses and music have been arranged for the service which will be conducted by the president of th[e] Baptist Union of Tasmania (Rev. E. C. Smith, Burnie).

The foundation of the pre sent building was laid in 1883 and the first service was held on May 26, 1884, Rev, William Bird being the first pastor. Church officials have decided that the city’s development has made the present site unsatisfactory for church work and they have moved to a site in Brisbane St., where it is proposed to build a new church. The old church will be taken over by the P.M.G’s Department at the end of the month.
The Examiner, 8 July 1950

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