46. Wesley Church - 1888
The Foundation stone was laid for the Wesleyan Church 31 July 1888, by Mr Charles Drew of Burra. It was designed by architect Frederick William Dancker of Adelaide in Victorian Gothic Revival to accommodate 650 people and built by Walter and Morris of Port Adelaide using local stone and brick.
The Rev. James Haslam, Chairman of the South Australian Methodist Conference, officially opened the church four months after the foundation stone was laid. The early establishment of the Wesleyan church in Broken Hill reflects the strong temperance movement of Methodists that existed alongside the town’s 60 or so hotels and reputation for thirsty miners. Broken Hill was not traditionally known for temperance.
In October 1889 the large stone lecture hall behind the Wesleyan Church was officially opened and, the same year, the first Willyama High School moved into the Hall and stayed for five years. In 1895-6 the hall was also used as the 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.
Regular worship at Wesley Uniting Church ceased in June 1981.
From November 1986 to December 1987 some restorations were carried out. The church now retains its original interior, including a reconstructed original colour scheme.
In 1988 the interior of the Wesleyan Church Hall featured in a commercial for a cleaning product in which Broken Hill artist Pro Hart threw food onto a carpet, creating a ‘painting’ of a dragonfly. On the anniversary of its centenary, 31 July 1988, the Wesley Uniting Church was rededicated.
The last Wesleyan service was held in 20 August 1995. In October 1996 the Broken Hill Uniting Church took over the building and started worship there. It was renamed the ‘Wesleyan Uniting Church’. The church and its hall remain in use by the Uniting Church.
Audio transcript available.