St George's, Sorell
The early history
St George's in Sorell celebrated the completion of the hall restoration with a thanksgiving service conducted by the Revd Jill McCoy on 27 February, followed by an afternoon tea. The service was attended by past rectors and the Mayor of Sorell, Carmel Torenius. Kerry Bowerman's account of the early history of this church was presented at the service. We did not have print space in the April edition of Tasmanian Anglican but here you may read this interesting article in its entirety.
The original land Grant to the Church consisted of 4 acres 3 roods relating to the area generally known as St George's Square and bounded by Gordon Street, Fitzroy Street, Parsonage Place and Somerville Street. In addition there was a further 8 acres and 8 perches bounded by Pelham Street, Cole Street and the Sorell Rivulet. That area mostly constitutes the land used for the new Coles development.
The St George's Hall was commenced during the incumbency of the Rev'd Charles Brammall (1868 - 1894). The foundation stone was laid in 1894. The kitchen was added in 1901 and the Sunday School (now the Information Centre) was completed in 1908. The Hall was dedicated to the memory of Anne B Garrett who was the sister-in-law of Rev'd Brammall. Miss Garrett taught Sunday School and died at an early age.
The buildings as they currently stand, apart from the toilet block, have remained pretty much unchanged for just over 100 years.
The building has been used for a number of community activities, over and above the Church usage: Flower shows, Youth Club, Girl Guides and Brownies, Ballet Classes, Election polling booth, Red Cross, the temporary premises for a bank, the list goes on.
One of the major church activities was catering for the Sorell Sale Days. The Sorell Church Centre and outlying centres such as Orielton, Penna and Pawleena arranged catering on a roster basis with the proceeds assisting the work of the church beyond Sorell. And of course the building was home for the St George's Ladies Guild for 62 years (1948 - 2010).
The Sunday School was served by many well known Sorell families over the years, such as Barbara Briggs, Dot Davis (the wife of Geoff Davis, the father of Neil Davis), Gwen Reynolds and so on.
The This and That Shop was operated by the Uniting Church for many years each Friday. It is unfortunate that the upgrade was at the expense of that operation due to the need to reclaim that area for the kitchen and storage facilities.
The Sorell Council has recently entered into a new three-year lease for the Visitor Information Centre and the toilet block. In 2005 The Council replaced the public toilet facilities in St George's Square with a new toilet block attached to the church hall. The lease with the Council contains provision for that outlay to be recouped by the Council should the church ever dispose of the property.
The Building Upgrade
The need to upgrade the building began two years ago with the catalyst being the new requirements for the occupancy of such buildings within the Building Regulations 2004. The building simply did not meet those standards.
Reports were commissioned by Lee Tyers, Building Surveyors and from Paul Gilby of Gilby Vollus Architects. Paul Gilby had previously acted in the renovation of the Church in 2006.
The original cost estimate for the upgrade was $150,000 and with the passage of time and some additions to the works, the cost will now be in the order of $200,000. The Parish decided to go ahead with the upgrade on the basis that it would be internally funded from other property sales.
The works cover a complete upgrade of the kitchen including storage areas; a complete electrical upgrade, including heating and lighting; refurbishment of the external timberwork; painting inside and out - including the roof; new floor coverings; a new access connecting the hall to the grounds; direct access from the hall to the public toilets and an upgrade of door furniture and security.
Today, we wish particularly to acknowledge the contributions of our architect, Paul Gilby and the builder, Guy Rees and his team. It is fair to say that that man ‘Gerry' may have had some involvement with the original construction. We knew that we were presenting the builder with a challenge, but we really didn't expect that so much of the building would be out of square. However, Guy's team was able to overcome these challenges and I am sure that you will all agree that the end result is a significant improvement.
Apart from Church related activities, it is intended to promote the availability of the upgraded facility for wider community use. The building has a strategic position in the heart of the town and of course is complemented by the adjoining open space of St George's Square. Above anything else, the upgrade is intended to preserve and more appropriately present an important part of Sorell's history.
Kerry Bowerman 27/02/2011