Liffey Wesleyan Methodist church in Bishopsbourne later moved to Elphinstone, Cressy

Liffey Wesleyan Methodist Church in Bishopsbourne (1872-1909) moved to Elphinstone, Cressy, Methodist Church 1909-1947

At the Wesleyan District meeting in Launceston on Friday 10 November 1871, approval was given to build “a small wooden church at the Liffey”.

A congregation had been meeting there prior to 1848, it being noted as a preaching place in that year.

Erection of the building was soon completed and was opened on Sunday, 27 October 1872. A report of its opening appeared in the Launceston Examiner on 2 November 1872. “The building is erected on land presented by Mrs. Kerkham ……….. it is 27 feet long by 18 feet wide, built of timber, lathed, and plastered inside. It has a very neat and comfortable appearance and will seat about 100 persons. It belongs to the Wesleyan Methodists, Longford Circuit and was erected by Mr. Titmus, of Perth, at a cost of £87; deeds £4.4s; total £91.4s. 

The weatherboard property with shingle roof was located midway between Bishopsbourne and Carrick, on a block of land surveyed off the “Liffey Farm” property owned by Jane Kerkham. The family were active supporters of the church with their daughter Rebecca (1824-1907) wife of John Hopkins, being particularly noted for her work at the church.

Numbers attending were small but over the 38 years of existence, the congregation provided faithful witness and worship.

For some years before the removal of the building, the thought had been growing that the building could be better utilized by a larger congregation. On the 24 February 1909 the Tasmanian Methodist Assembly gave approval for the building to be relocated to Elphinstone Road near Cressy, 10 miles away.

Removal soon commenced attended by Mr. H. Masters, a Bracknell builder, and was reopened at Elphinstone on 2 May 1909. The contract designating the taking down, re-erection, adding an iron roof, a new porch, lining the inside with pine, varnishing the inside and painting the outside. The contract price was £40.

Other assistance was provided by Mr. Basil Archer who provided the ground and funding for the back and side fences, with locals putting in the foundations, carting materials, fund raising and collecting for church furnishings. To assist the Liffey Church gave the sale moneys for their organ, sold to the Mountain Vale Liffey Methodist church. A substantial donation was given by Mrs. William Gibson of Perth.

In its earlier years, the church operated as a vigorous congregation including having a choir and Sunday School. In 1936 the Examiner newspaper reported that Miss E.K. Ellis, besides being the local schoolteacher, was also the Sunday School teacher and superintendent. She also helped with social functions. Another notable member at the church was Mrs Hetta Boon, a mother of 10 and who lived nearby on the “Inglewood” farm, she was an active worker at the church and for a number of years was superintendent of the Elphinstone Sunday School.

With the passing of years and fewer people living in the area and the advent of the motor car enabling easy travel beyond the local area, the numbers attending the church declined leading to its closure.

At sale of the church in 1947 a comprehensive description of the building was given, it being 27ft. x 16ft. x 10ft., weatherboard, with an estimated roofing of 58 sheets of galvanised iron, also 7 ft. x 6ft. porch attached. The inside was lined with dado 3ft. high, V-joined hardwood and also ½in. pine, estimated at 2150 running feet.

The building was put to auction on Friday, 4 July 1947 and sold to Mr. A. Lockwood of Cressy for a figure of around £100. It is reported that it was moved into Cressy dragged along the road by a steam engine. With the job not being complete before nightfall, the engine and building were left beside the road overnight and completed the five-mile trip next day. 

Elphinstone Methodist Church on the Move – 1947. Originally built 1872 as the Liffey (Bishopsbourne) Wesleyan Methodist Church.

Written by Ivan Badcock

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *