Ballina & Richmond River GenWeb

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Ballina and the Richmond River area are rich in heritage and still have some wonderful old buildings as a reminder of our heritage and early ancestors. We will endeavour to list as many as we can, complete details of the buildings and photo's where possible.

First Ballina Church, 1888


Ballina Methodist Church

Some of Ballina's early settlers were Methodist. In 1855 Mr J. Gainsford commenced services. In 1867 Mr W.J. Turner settled in Ballina. As the closest Methodist Minister lived at Grafton, Mr Turner walked to Grafton to appeal for a minister. At Grafton Rev. Joseph Fillingham encouraged Mr Turner to keep meeting with Methodist families & individuals.

On the 3rd May 1868 Rev, W.J. Meicklejohn performed the first service by a Methodist Minister in Ballina. The service was held at the Ballina Court House. On the 13th February 1888 the first Methodist Church in Ballina was opened.

In 1924 The Methodist College for girls was opened, on the corner of Swift & Crane Streets. The College closed in 1930 due to difficulties including financial problems.

The Ballina Methodist Church is now the Ballina Uniting Church.

Empire Vale Methodist Church

no further information available

Pimlico Methodist Church

There were no services held near Pimlico until the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. W. McMullen and family in 1883, from Branxton, on the Hunter River. With characteristic Methodist spirit they sought to establish Methodist Ordinances, with which they were familiar, and opened their home for services, the Rev. Curwood being the then resident minister at Lismore. It was soon recognised that the only way to consolidate the word was to give it organised form by having their own church. A building site was given, and the whole of the district was actively canvassed for donations, the greatest part of which was raised by Mrs. McMullen. The Church was opened on Monday, November 10th, 1884, and Methodists from all parts of the district were present.

The services were well attended. Many of the worshippers lived several miles distant, and came in rowing boats. Sunday School was also established, and the Church grew in numerical strength. For several years now the successive removal of large families connected with the Church has weakened the cause, yet it is not too much to say that scores of people in various parts of the State owe their first religious impressions to the church at Pimlico. The home of Mr. and Mrs. McMullen was ever open to visiting ministers. during their long residence they did much to advance Methodist ordinances in the ciruit. They have both passed onward, but the work so courageously begun, lives after them, and is carried on by two sons, Messrs A. and S. McMullen, and a daughter Mrs. Wilsom, all of whom reneder loyal and devoted service to the church.

The above information was taken with permission from the Booklet:
"Our heritage 1897 - 2000 A short history of the Ballina Uniting Church, Edited by Brian Doring, April, 2000"

St. Barnabas Church of England

In 1873, land was granted for the building of a Church of England church in Wardell. A timber church with a shingle roof was constructed by John Butler Ford in 1879. The new church was opened in 1920.

St Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Ballina

Ballina was visited by the first Priest in 1853. The Presentation Nuns came from Dublin. The first branch of the Convent was opened in Ballina in 1887 In 1890 the first official Parish Church was opened on the corner of Cherry & Crane Streets. The first Priest was Father Ahearn. In 1892, the Old Presbytery was handed over to the Nuns, as they were in charge of a school of 40 pupils.
In 1901 a new Church was opened. A 2 story Convent was errected facing Cherry Street in 1910-1 & the Priest moved from Swift Street back into the Old Presbytery. During the 1920's a second story was placed on the Old Presbytery. The Convent became a Boarding School in 1924.

It catered for both senior & junior students until 1965, when it closed. The New Primary School was opened 60 years after the arrival of the Presentation Nuns, in 1952.
In about 1961-2 the old Church was moved to Crane Street & became the Church Hall. The new brick Church was opened on the 25th March 1962. The Old Presbytery was demolished & a new one opened on the 7th August 1971.

This building was once used as the convent.

St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church Wardell

Wardell has a brick Catholic church, presbytery, convent & convent school. Catholic families included the: Byrnes, Tylers, Kennedys, Meaneys, McDonaghs & Floods. In 1868 services were being carried out in homes.

In 1873, Bishop O'Mahony visited Wardell & confirmed 60 children & adults in the one day. The first Catholic church at Wardell was started in 1878 & completed in 1879. The first Priest in charge was Father McDonnell. He had a presbytery built in 1904 & a new church was completed in 1911.

The old church was renovated & turned into a school. The Sisters of St Joseph from Sydney took over the school in 1913. In 1912 a convent had been built to accommodate them.

Teven Methodist Church

Amongst the earliest settlers at Teven were Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Staines. They were devoted members of the Church, and mr. Staines was a member of the first Quarl\terly Meeting of the circuit. As trustee, steward and Sunday School Teacher he rendered faithful service up to the time of his departure for Queensland a few years ago. One of their sons was accepted as a candidate for the ministry, but had to retire owing to ill health. About the same time Mr. James Whipps arrived from Newcastle and took up land for home settlement. There were now several resident families and Mr. and Mrs Whipps opened their home for services, the first of which was held in the early part of 1888. The Quarterly Meeting minutes dated June, 1889, have the following record:- Mr. Whipps reported the intention of the inhabitants of Teven to build a Church at that place, and asked permission for same. Permission was granted. The building scheme was taken up with enthusiasm. The old collecting list is an eloquent story in figures of the people's love for the church. Some of the donations were for the times, exceptionally large, and must have meant real sacrifice to families whose outlay in time and labour was heavy, and the returns often disproportionately small. The Church was opened in 1889. Mr. Whipps has taken a loyal and active interest in the Church and circuit since his arrival over 30 years ago. At times in the early days he occupied the pulpit with much acceptance, and as Sunday School superintendent, trustee, ciruit and church steward has rendered faithful and devoted service in Teven and the whole circuit. Teven holds the distinction of being the only place in the circuit from which a candidate has passed into the Ministry. Mr and Mrs R. Barlow (also pioneer settlers), staunch supporters of the Church encouraged their family in church work, and their son Cyril, while yet a lad, consecrated his life to God and became a local preacher, and began to prepare for the ministry. In 1919 he was unaminiously recommended by the Ballina Quarterly Meeting as a candidate for the ministry, and was received by the 1920 Conference,owing to shortage of ministers he was immediately appointed to curcuit work. Teven Methodisim has been a distinct influence for good throughout the community. It is noted for its generousity to the mission and circuit funds. Mr. J. Walsh is a comparatively recent arrival but his loyal and generous attachment to the Church is well known through the circuit. He is Senior Curcuit Steward, Sunday School Superintendent, quarterly collector, and cheerfully carries his several responsibilities with credit to himself and the church.

Special thanks must go to the Ballina Uniting Church, Most information and pictures on the latest additons were taken from the wonderful booklet "Our heritage 1897 - 2000 A short History of the Ballina Uniting Church edited by Brian Doring - Aprill 2000."

Wardell Methodist Church

The Wardell Methodist Church was built in 1904-5. The building was somewhat prone to flooding, so in 1958, the church was raised onto brick foundations. A small extension hall, including a kitchen was laso added. Some renovations were carried out in 1965.

The Wardell Methodist Church is now known as the Wardell Uniting Church.

Wollongbar Methodist Church

Wollongbar is one of the oldest settlements in the district. It is only three miles from Alstonville, and within easy reach of the services; but the Methodist policy of taking the Church to the people was followed in 1909, when a Church was built. Mr. John Seccomb, on of the oldest residents, generously presented a splended building site, and money was quickly raised for building the Church. The present structure was opened in 1909. The number of Methodist families is small, but regular services are held, and the Sunday School is bravely carried on by Mr. R. Simons and Mrs. Kennough. Mrs. Robb, Snr, is one of the earliest members and has been connected with local Methodism for a number of years. Her quiet and unostentious generosity has helped to extend the work of God in the several parts of the circuit, and the various Church building funds have been assisted by her practical sympathy. There is every prospect that the number associated with Wollongbar will eventually increase.

Copy of page originally transcribed by Mandy O'Neill (content remains unedited)
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