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History of Latrobe Chapel

Its unique beginnings were one of faith, determination and hard work, by a group of devoted individuals.

The first denomination to reach Australian shores was of the Primitive Methodist Christian faith. Two ships sailed from England, each with a Minister to service the soldiers and their families, plus the prisoners. One ship was shipwrecked and sank, the Minister and some others managed to survive, so he was delayed in reaching Australia. Not having a judge or any higher authority, other than the commander of the prison camp, to preside over any of the cases that had to be heard, the Minister was asked to take on this role. Monday to Friday he was the Judge, handing down harsh punishments to troublesome, misbehaving prisoners, and on the weekend, the same Minister would preach the gospel. Very early in our history, the evangelist church became divided in its interpretation of the Bible, just as it has today, and consequently a breakaway of some of the congregation began and the Methodist Church was born.
1886 Latrobe Chapel oldest in the area is still of the original Primitive evangelist Church. The first Primitive Minister in Queensland was the Reverend Joseph Bickle, he toured from Brisbane to Gympie. Along the way he would often buy land and start a new church. On his longer trips to Maryborough and back, he would stop and preach to the people under a tree.
As people of the faith grouped together in Paddington, they required a minister and a meeting place, a tent was pitched in Fernberg Street opposite Government House, for all to gather for their first service, but the minister never came, strong winds sprang up and blew the tent away. They eventually got their minister, and in 1886 began to build this very chapel. The wood was milled locally and 8 gothic style leadlight windows were installed, the building was then painted white, the roof unpainted tin. Most of the congregation lived nearer Latrobe Terrace and they had to walk over steep hills to reach it, after much discussion a ballot was drawn, the result being in 1891 to take on the enormous task, of having the building, moved...

Land was acquired along the Latrobe Terrace ridge, and the church was resettled here at number 215, by what means is unclear. Tracks were made on the top of the ridges, as the carts pulled by bullocks often became bogged in the valleys, trucks only began to be used for logging in 1899, and Brisbane's inner north side roads, have been built over these tracks. Trams later ran along Latrobe Terrace and the Conductor's Corner, rest stop park, opposite the old Movie Theatre now the Antique Markets, is still there.
As the congregation grew & the church flourished, the building was extended some 20 years or so later, and the front stage and altar were added. A Sunday school was soon built underneath to accommodate the large number of children in the area. This now holds an ART STUDIO with original artwork for sale in the Salon, proceeds are donated to Australian charities Please support these Charities by purchasing any of the art works available

In 1936 for its golden jubilee year, the vestibule, three windows and front fence were built by the then parishioners, they also are of heritage value to the City. For over a hundred years the faithful sang, worshipped, blessed babies and married in this very building. One prominent well known local family of early times was born in Surrey England in 1843, where he heard of the prospects of settlement on land, in the new colony, through his elder sons. With some of his family, he migrated at age 64 on the Donald McKay ship & arrived in Brisbane via Geelong in 1855. A strong believer in education, many descendants became well known teachers & community workers. Various occupations included a copper miner, teacher, tramway man, storekeeper, blacksmith, engineer, bank officer, tailor, barrister-at-law, pharmacist, school principal, Minister & church Deacon, also a Town crier & potter.
In this Chapel his son eventually married a local girl and they were blessed with ten children.
His occupations ranged from carrier 1874, a carpenter and paper bag maker. He died in 1903 at only 66 years of age, the Rev. Thomas Thatcher officiated. His children began to marry here at 25 years of age between 1900 & 1912. All the families lived in the Paddington and surrounding areas.

1959 the church was a supporter of the then historic Billy Graham Crusade in Australia
Unfortunately as modern society and people moved on to outer suburbs, they outgrew the church, and as the 1980's drew to a close it was sold publicly & became used for other needs, consequently it fell into great disrepair.

2003 saw its new beginnings during a Sunday evening Church service at Mt.Gravatt. Twice a vision was seen by the owner, of a very old broken down church. Within days the church was revealed as being for sale, with no money whatsoever, but help from family and those who believed in the owners abilities, the church became a reality. With just $10 deposit, and many prayers, the Lord provided the finances. More visions revealed how the restored Church was to be, exterior, exactly as in 1886. Then the Lord showed us why He wanted it, in a vision many men dressed in suits with cravats and bow ties, followed by many brides in beautiful bridal dresses, all carrying bouquets, were walking in a row towards the church. The Chapel was rededicated and sanctified to Jesus in 2003.

2004 restorations began, with straightening of the 60cm (2ft) bow between floors, thus shattering all the back windows, restoring fallen leadlight windows, replacing the roof, which had only one truss left up, and toilets you can now flush, the chains have gone. Installing air conditioning, bridal car space, with a new rear addition holding an office and essential fire escape. Thus it was well over 2 years of exacting work from professionals Wim Architects, specialist builder Myles Harm, and trades people alike, men who became enthused and dedicated to maintaining its uniqueness, before something resembling the original, began to take shape.......The cost of this extremely large project fell into well over a million dollars, today its preservation still demonstrates rare, uncommon aspects of the City's cultural heritage and evolution. Built in the late Victorian and Federation Carpenter Gothic style, it is part of Brisbane's Historic and spiritual beginnings.

2012 it's a work in progress with restorations & landscaping continuing & new visions reveal more is coming......soon.

Welcome to this precious Chapel.

about Latrobe Chapel


We thank the BCC Historical Library, the descendants of Rev. Bickle for early historic information, and the families who gave wedding photos of their early ancestors to display, which are dated from as early as 1887. Also the newly married who combined their wedding photos with family ancestors, who once played a part in Latrobe Chapel's spiritual beginnings.