Wesley Uniting Church and Hall Group | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Wesley Uniting Church and Hall Group

Item details

Name of item: Wesley Uniting Church and Hall Group
Other name/s: Wesleyan Uniting Church Group, Wesley Church, Wesley Hall
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Location: Lat: -31.9565645788 Long: 141.4610097800
Primary address: Cobalt Street, Broken Hill, NSW 2880
Parish: Picton
County: Yancowinna
Local govt. area: Broken Hill
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Broken Hill
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT198 DP1162997
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Cobalt StreetBroken HillBroken HillPictonYancowinnaPrimary Address
Corner of Sulphide and Cobalt StreetsBroken HillBroken Hill  Alternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Uniting Church in AustraliaReligious Organisation 
Uniting Church in Australia, TheReligious Organisation 

Statement of significance:

Dating from 1888, just three years after the founding of Broken Hill as a mining settlement in 1885, the Wesley Uniting Church and Hall Group is of State significance for its associations with the pioneering days of Broken Hill. It demonstrates the early appearance of Methodism and provides evidence of the strong temperance movement of the late nineteenth century in contrast with the town's "reputation for boisterousness, heavy drinking [and] militant unionism". The Wesley Church is also of State aesthetic significance for its austere and intact Victorian Gothic design, being built of rough hewn stone with a tall central spire, a key streetscape element and local landmark.
Date significance updated: 03 Mar 10
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Designer/Maker: Mr F. W. Dancker (Adelaide)
Builder/Maker: Messrs. Walter and Morris
Construction years: 1885-1888
Physical description: The Wesleyan Uniting Church Group consists of the Wesley Hall and Wesley Church. With the church's founding stone laid in 1888, the group is historically important for its close connection with Broken Hill's early history, dating only from the commencement of mining operations by BHP in 1885. The church and its hall are built in rough hewn stone with brick trim. Located on a corner site near the centre of town, the group is a key streetscape element and local landmark.

The Wesley Church is designed in a Victorian Gothic style based on a symmetrical cruciform plan modified to form an octagon in the centre. This central structure is supported internally on four trefoil iron columns with foliate columns at the crossing. The walls are built of local rough hewn stone with brick trim, in this case brick buttresses and brick surrounds to openings. There is a string course running across the walls at middle height. In keeping with the Gothic style the church has parapetted gables and its windows have pointed arch heads. The roof is clad with corrugated iron. A feature of the building is a slender, octagonal spire with ventilated shaft. Internal walls are plastered and the ceiling is timber boarded.

The Wesley Hall's design incorporates simple Gothic forms and also some Romanesque influence. Like the adjacent church it is constructed of rough hewn stone with brick trim; the trim is in the form of brick quoins and brick surrounds to doors and windows. There is a central gabled section flanked by a skillion roofed section to either side. The roof is clad with corrugated iron, as are the gable apex and the vertical roof steps between the gable roof and the skillions. On the main facade there are two doors with flanking windows to their outer sides, together with a central window placed higher on the gabled wall. All these openings are of the pointed arch type. The side walls have rounded arch windows, and above these are four paned clerestory windows. Internally, posts with curved brackets support the gabled section of the roof. The internal side of the roof is lined with timber. There is a modest, recent extension housing a kitchen at the rear of the hall.

There is a stone, brick and iron fence along part of the street frontage to Cobalt and Sulphide Streets and a church sign. A narrow block of land beside the church on Cobalt Street was recently purchsed, allowing space for a driveway to the rear of the property.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical Condition is good.
Date condition updated:11 Aug 04
Further information: Wesley Uniting Church Group has received funding through the Heritage Incentives Program for its restoration and renovation.
Former use: Aboriginal land, Methodist church

History

Historical notes: Wiljakali (Wilyagali) land
There were some fifteen groups of Aboriginal people traditionally living in the huge area bisected by the Darling River in the western plains of NSW. The principal group around Broken Hill was the Wiljakali. Their occupation of the area is thought to have been intermittent due to the scarcity of water. The same scarcity of water made the area unattractive for European occupiers and traditional Aboriginal ways of life continued longer there than in many other parts of NSW, into the 1870s. As Aboriginal people were increasingly deprived of the full range of their traditional options, they were obliged to come into stations or missions in times of drought to avoid starvation. By the 1880s many Aboriginal people were working on stations or within the mining industry. Some people ended up living in reservations created under the Aborigines' Protection Act of 1909. The influenza epidemic of 1919 had a further significant impact upon the indigenous population (HO, 1996, 192-193) as did the twentieth century federal government policy of removing Aboriginal children from their families. (HO, 1996).

The Wiljakali people who occupied the area when Charles Sturt arrived in 1845 (and first referred to it as 'broken hill') faced less immediate settler agression than tribal groups who lived on the rivers, including the Darling (Spearitt, 2018, 73).

In 1883, when boundary rider Charles Rasp formed a small syndicate to mine a great ironstone outcrop in the far west of NSW, they thought they would find tin. Instead, they ended up having leases over some of the world's richest silver, lead and zinc deposits. Unlike gold, these metals were not simply there for the taking. BHP (Broken Hill Proprietory Ltd.), formed in 1885, faced technical and logistical challenges in mining and processing ore bodies (ibid, 2018, 73).

Broken Hill grew quickly. A population of 17,000 in 1889 had more than doubled to 35,000 in 1914, putting it on the map as the then third-largest city in NSW. In today's terms, it could be described as Australia's most multicultural city of the time (ibid, 2018, 73).

Trade Unions quickly formed around the mine and extraction processing industries. The Trades Hall, built between 1891 and 1905, became the first building in Australia owned by unions, who also purchased the local newspaper 'The Barrier Times' in 1908. This strong union tradition permeated all aspects of life in Broken Hill. The city's unionists won a 35-hour week in 1920, the first to do so in Australia (ibid, 2018, 74).

The city is full of surprises, including a mosque, founded by Afghan cameleers in the early 1890s, and a synagogue built in 1910. The cameleers flourished in the later decades of the 19th century, transporting wool as well as construction materials for the Overland telegraph line from Darwin to Port Augusta. The Jewish population mainly came from Eastern Europe. While the synagogue closed in 1962, the mosque is still used for worship. BHP ceased operations in Broken Hill in the late 1930s, by which time other mining companies had formed, leaving behind an open-cut mine that writer George Farwell described in 1948 as, 'forlorn as a dead planet. It has the air of a crater on the moon... Massive boulders and abandoned machinery sprawl down its flanks as though flung down the sheer sides of a mountain gorge. Upon the crest old iron lies everywhere' (ibid, 2018, 74).

Mining history in Broken Hill
The term Broken Hill was first used by the early British Explorer Charles Sturt in his diaries during his search for an inland sea in 1844. Western plains towns far away from the major rivers, such as Broken Hill, owe their existence to the mineral discoveries made in the decade after 1875, when spectacular deposits of gold, silver, copper and opal were found (HO, 1996, 198). The township of Broken Hill was developed in the "Broken Hill Paddock" which was part of Mt Gipps Station. George McCulloch, the station manager employed many men; it was in 1883 that three of his workers pegged the first mineral lease on his property, they were Charles Rasp, David James and James Poole(Drewery 1985; Camilleri, 2009). The Syndicate of Seven was formed, and consisted of: George McCulloch, Charles Rasp, David James, James Poole, George Urquhart and George Lind. These men pegged out the remaining six mineral leases which are now known as the Line of Lode. It was the seventh member of the Syndicate, Philip Charley, who found the first amount of silver in 1885 (Drewery 1985: Camilleri, 2009). A township was soon surveyed and Broken Hill was initially known as a shanty town with an entire suburb named 'Canvas Town' for its temporary buildings.

This syndicate floated a company in 1883, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, or BHP as it is known today and a township was soon surveyed. Broken Hill was initially a shanty town with an entire suburb named 'Canvas Town' for its temporary buildings. The streets in the centre of the town were named after minerals, Argent (i.e. Silver) and Chloride being important cross streets. The living and working conditions of the miners were harsh, largely due to the climatic extremes of the outback. Photographs of the township of Broken Hill and the mining activities were exhibited in London at the 1908 Franco-British exhibition.

Wesleyan Church and Hall
The Church was designed by architect Frederick William Dancker of Adelaide and it has the capacity to accommodate 880 people. The building contractors were Walter & Morris of Adelaide and Broken Hill (Stoneman, 1997). The Foundation stone was laid for the Wesleyan Church on the corner of Sulphide and Cobalt Streets, Broken Hill on 31 July 1888. Those involved in the laying ceremony were Mrs Charles Drew, who laid the foundations stone, Rev. S. Rossiter and Rev. A.S.J Fry. Mr Hebbard, secretary to the trustees, placed a glass jar with documents pertaining to the building underneath the foundation stone.

A little more than four months later, on 9 December 1888, the Rev. James Haslam, Chairman of the South Australian Methodist Conference, officially opened the church. The building measuring 22m by 18m had a ceiling height of 9m and a spire 18m high. The original design had provision for a gallery, however, the seating capacity at the time of building was already 600 people. In October 1889 the large stone lecture hall behind the Wesleyan Church was officially opened. The total cost of the church and hall was 6000 pounds, including the buildings, church furnishings and vestments.

The first Willyama High School commenced instruction in the Wesleyan Hall and continued there for five years. In 1895-6 the hall was used as the first primary school while the Burke Ward school was being built.

During the 1920s the short gallery fronting the choir loft in the church was removed along with pews in the body of the church to allow for the choir to be held in the body of the church.

In 1963 for its 75th anniversary, the church had works done at a cost of 1200 pounds. This included installation of a wooden cross 4m in length. It is assumed that at this time the choir loft was bricked in to make the place where the new cross was hung.

In June 1981 regular worship services at Wesley Uniting Church were ceased.

From November 1986 to December 1987 some restorations were carried out on the buildings. These included the removal of the bricked in archway to expose the original choir loft. These works were designed to bring the group back as close as possible with the original layout of the buildings.

In 1988 the interior of the Wesleyan Church Hall featured in a commercial in which the famous artist of Broken Hill, Pro Hart, slapped food onto a carpet to create a painting of a dragonfly (which in the narrative of the commercial was successfully wiped off by a cleaning lady). This has been described as 'one of the most popular TV commercials ever made in Australia' (Groves). A slap of blue paint remains on the exterior brick work of the hall near its entrance to Sulphide Street.

Although on 31 July 1988, on the anniversary of its centenary, the Wesley Uniting Church was rededicated, by 20 August 1995 the last Wesleyan service was held there. Two months later, in October 1996, worship at the Broken Hill Uniting Church was transferred to the church, which was remnamed the 'Wesleyan Uniting Church'. The church and its hall remains in religious use by the Uniting Church.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Changing the environment-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Developing local, regional and national economies-National Theme 3
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Mining-Activities associated with the identification, extraction, processing and distribution of mineral ores, precious stones and other such inorganic substances. Mining for silver-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages 19th century suburban developments-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages 19th Century Infrastructure-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Practising Orthodoxy-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Practising Methodism-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Church-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Wesley Uniting Church and Hall are of State significance as some of the earliest church buildings to be constructed west of the Darling River. Dating from 1888, just three years after mining operations commenced on the "broken hill" or Line of Lode in Broken Hill, the site is closely associated with the early history of this major mining centre. It provides evidence of the strong temperance movement of the late nineteenth century, which contrasted with the town's "reputation for boisterousness, heavy drinking [and] militant unionism" (Solomon, p271)
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The presence of the Wesley Uniting Church and Hall is of local significance for demonstrating the early and substantial appearance of Methodism in Broken Hill within three years of the commencement of mining operations in 1885. Methodism may be associated with the large numbers of Cornish miners attracted to the town from South Australia and other mining areas in the Barrier Ranges.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Wesley Church and Wesley Hall are of State aesthetic significance for their Victorian Gothic design, built of rough hewn stone with brick trim, a form of construction more commonly found in the arid localities of South Australia than in NSW. The slender octagonal spire and distinctive stonework help make this a key streetscape element and local landmark, situated opposite the town's main recreational park.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Wesley Uniting Church Group is of local social significance to the people of Broken Hill as the seat of Methodism in the Barrier region and secondly a venue for many social activities. The Church Group has been a part of the broader community of Broken Hill and remains today a functioning church. The hall is of social significance to people who fondly remember the Pro Hart carpet commercial of 1988, which was filmed inside.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Wesley Uniting Church Group is of local significance for its research potential to demonstrate the techniques of stone and brick walling and for its complexity of design and structure with the vernacular materials used.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Wesley Uniting Church Group is of State significance for its rarity as one of the earliest groups of church buildings to be erected west of the Darling River, dating from 1888, and for the rarity of its construction materials featuring rough hewn stone with brick trim.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Wesley Uniting Church Group is of State significance for its representative qualities as a pioneering church in the far west of New South Wales.
Integrity/Intactness: Good
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions HERITAGE ACT, 1977

DIRECTION PURSUANT TO SECTION 34(1)(a)
TO LIST AN ITEM ON THE STATE HERITAGE REGISTER

Wesley Uniting Church and Hall Group
Corner of Sulphide and Cobalt Streets Broken Hill

SHR No. 1818


In pursuance of Section 34(1)(a) of the Heritage Act, 1977, I, the Minister for Planning, having considered a recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, direct the Council to list the item of environmental heritage specified in Schedule “A” on the State Heritage Register. This listing shall apply to the curtilage or site of the item, being the land described in Schedule “B”. The listing is subject to the exemptions from approval under Section 57(2) of the Heritage Act, 1977, described in Schedule “C” and in addition to the standard exemptions.






The Hon Tony Kelly MLC
Minister for Planning


Sydney, 25th Day of March 2010


SCHEDULE A

The item known as Wesley Uniting Church and Hall Group, situated on the land described in Schedule B.

SCHEDULE B

All those pieces or parcels of land known as Lot 20 Section 18 DP 759092, Lot 1 DP 928806 and Lot 1 DP 325512 in Parish of Picton, County of Yancowinna shown on the plan catalogued HC 2310 in the office of the Heritage Council of New South Wales.

SCHEDULE C

All development applications authorised or lodged before the gazettal date of the listing of the Wesley Uniting Church on the SHR: Erection of shed - DA5/2010.
Apr 23 2010

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0181823 Apr 10   
Register of the National EstateNom. 01/07/1979.00055501 Nov 83 AHC 

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written  Information from the Register of National Estate
WrittenHeritage Office1996Regional Histories of NSW
WrittenJack Stoneman1997"Chronology of Broken Hill Church History (1885-1996)"
WrittenJanney Camilleri, president of the Broken Hill Historical Society2009Personal communications with Patricia Assad of the Heritage Branch
WrittenRev Simon Lee1999State Heritage Inventory Form
WrittenRoberta Drewery1985Streets of History: Naming our Streets, Broken Hill, NSW
WrittenSpearitt, Peter2018'Making History Happen'

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5054941
File number: S90/07419/3


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