Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Wapping Mission

Wapping was a closely settled, working class district stretching from Sackville Street, behind the Theatre Royal, down to the warehouses of Hunter Street, which was the old wharf precinct of colonial times. In the economic darkness of the underprivileged but friendly slum area of Hobart, dominated by low cost housing and noxious trade – tanneries, an abattoir, a soap factory and the gas works – a beacon shone through in the form of the Campbell Street Mission.

When the second Anglican Archbishop of Tasmania arrived on these shores from England in 1865, he bought with , as chaplain, his eldest son, Henry Bodley Bromby. This young man had tact and a great sense of humour. He was endowed with a beautiful courtesy and he loved working with children. He was particularly attracted to the needs of the poor in Wapping and he worked towards the establishment of a mission church there. He was Dean of the Cathedral from 1876 and although in that capacity he made it happen, the mission was not opened until the year after he left Hobart. The Mercury of Monday 13th Feb, 1885, gave a full description of the opening of “This pretty little building in Campbell Street” and they wrote that before leaving, Bromby “ had entered with his usual zeal and heartiness into the project”

The mission was a long building with five windows on each side. It was designed by no less an architect than the renowned Henry Hunter, who had already designed the Hobart Town Hall and much more. It was well appointed inside and the Mercury reporter was thrilled with the use of stained cedar and blackwood.

Despite floods, fires and fights in the numerous pubs in the area, the Mission continued its work for the next 50 years before entering the second phase of its existence as the 105th station in the world of the Mission to Seamen. The country was at war in 1915 when the State governor, Sir William Ellison – McCartney, reopened it on the night of August 30. Under its Flying Angel flag, the mission now looked after the material and spiritual needs of visiting sailors.
The mission church, now part chapel and part recreation rooms, did a great job for 40 more years looking after up to 5,000 visiting sailors annually. The Queen was even entertained with supper there during her 1954 visit.
In 1957, the Hobart City Council acquired the old church and turned it into a store, then later into a lost property office. The Wapping Mission had come down in the world but she was still ministering to peoples needs. The Mission church is no longer consecrated and its most recent commercial use was as the home of the "Detached Art Gallery" in 2008

Text & Information source:
“Mansions, Cottages and All Saints” – Book by Audrey Holiday & Walter Eastman