Sunday, 13 October 2013

Cleveland Union Chapel

Cleveland was once an important coaching station and convict road station. The convict station was built in 1839 as a serving station to repair road and could accommodate 100 prisoners at a time. After 1842 it became a hiring depot for labour and by 1847 there were 23 convicts billeted there on a regular basis.

Cleveland was originally planned as a large town. Plans were drawn up and streets laid out and named but a lack of a constant supply of clean drinking water put a stop to the idea. The plans of the town can be seen at the St Andrews Inn. Between the 1850s and 1870s, there were two main coaching inns in Cleveland, St Andrews Inn and The Bald Stag Inn.

By the early 1850s, there was a need for a local church in the town. By 1855, James and David Gibson had constructed a neat little brick church that originally measured only 22 ft 6 inches by 17 ft.

An unusual feature of the building was that it only had windows down one side of the building. The building was originally used by the Presbyterian faith as their centre of worship. The building was eventually lengthened to 31 ft long. It was later used by the Anglican Church as its local centre and according to the signs at the site, they continue to use the chapel for services. Press reports from the period show that in January 1869, a juvenile bazaar was held at the Esk Vale woolsheds in order to raise funds for repairs to be undertaken on the little church.

The building is set back from the Midland Highway and appears to be in the middle of a paddock. However, it is easily visible and accessible from the roadway. With its small graveyard in front of it, and surrounded by a small wire fence and a small entry gate, the chapel is easily accessible and you can walk around the graveyard and the front of the building and get up close.

Information Source: Information Signs posted around the site by Cleveland Progress Association.