Wesleyan Chapel, Margaret St, Launceston (1)

“The building was of wood and had been erected at a cost of £250. It stood behind the present building.”

Margaret St, Launceston. Google Maps.

Opened c.1837.
Replaced in 1858 by a new building that was later the Sunday School, fronting Margaret Street.
In 1889, a larger building was constructed for use as a school, fronting Balfour St.
In 1918, this was converted for use as the church building, and the smaller building on Margaret St became the Sunday School.

The first reference to the establishment of a Methodist Church in Margaret-street occurs in the minutes of the quarterly meeting of the Launceston Circuit held at Paterson-street on May 7, 1836, under the question: “What more can be done to promote the cause of God in the Circuit?” Faded writing in the century-old minute book records the following re solution as the answer to the query: ‘”It being deemed desirable to have a place in which to hold religious ser vices in the south end of the town, and Mr. I. Sherwin having offered to the connexion a plot of land on which to erect a chapel, it is resolved that Mr. Sherwin’s offer be greatly accepted and that the property be settled on the conference plan without delay.'”

On June 30, 1836, it was decided to erect a chapel on the land at once with the means which may be realised, “the size to be according to the sum obtained on condition that the sanction of the district meeting be obtained.” There is no record extant of the actual opening, but Margaret-street appears on the plan for January, 1837, and in April of the same year it was decided that preaching be held at Margaret-street every Sunday afternoon. The building was of wood and had been erected at a cost of £250. It stood behind the present building.

Church Extended
In 1854 it was agreed to survey the chapel with a view to its enlargement and in September, 1855, this work was agreed upon. In 1858 the building now used as a Sunday school was erected and used both as a chapel and a Sunday school. It was opened on October 31, 1858, Rev. W. D. Lelean, of Hobart Town, being the preacher. “The Examiner” files of the time show that the cost of the building was £1000 and of that amount £700 had been subscribed in three months by Wesleyans of Launceston. A further £100 was promised at a tea meeting held a few days after the opening of the church, and an unnamed benefactor thereupon promised to make up the deficiency, so that the church was opened without debt. Designed by Mr. Peter Mills, it was erected by Messrs. Lloyd and Douslin, contractors. In 1874 the building was enlarged when class rooms were erected at the rear.

The Parsonage
Increasing work in the Launceston Circuit led to the appointment of a second minister in 1863 and four years later the circuit accepted the responsibility of a married minister. Rev. N. Bennett was appointed and became resident in April, 1869. Mr. Isaac Sherwin loaned a house for a parsonage until 1871 when the existing residence was built at a cost of £ 500. Services at that time were held only in the afternoon, and in March, 1870, it was agreed that it was desirable to hold services in the evening. Morning and evening services were considered in 1872, but it was not until 1878 that services were held on Sunday evenings instead of afternoons.

The attendance at the Sunday school and services was growing rapidly, necessitating further accommodation and on October 3, 1888, plans for a proposed new school were considered. The foundation stone was laid on January 3, 1889, by Hon. Wm. Hart, M.L.C., and on June. 23, it was opened with special services and celebrations. The con. tractors for the school, which cost about £3000, were J. and T. Gunn, old scholars of the school. At the time o1 the opening £2467 had been collected towards its cost and at the public meeting it was announced by Mr. Hart that the building was free of debt. This was due to his outstanding generosity.

Circuit Changes
The history of the church itself moves on to 1903 when the quarterly meeting considered a division of the circuit to gain more concentrated work, but nothing come of this until 1917, when Margaret-street, Lawrence Vale, and Hadspen were made a separate circuit known as Launceston South Circuit. The first Superintendent minister was Rev. John Williams, who was in the circuit when the change was effected.

On April 23, 1917, the trustees considered promoting the work of Margaret-street Church and launched a scheme to remodel the Balfour-street school room to equip it suitably for church, and to equip the old church building in Margaret-street as a more efficient school room. This was done at a cost of about £2000 from a bequest of Mrs. George Baker. The opening took place on January 27, 1918. At the time of the remodelling’ the pipe organ was in stalled. Purchased from Paterson-street, it was presented by Mr. J. H. Hart. With these alterations the church re mains to-day, the minister in charge of. the circuit being Rev. Lewis E. Barnard, who began his work there this. year after a’ call: from Penguin, where he had been stationed for some years.
The Examiner, 3 August 1938


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