History of the Shire of Esk
month also serve as a gathering point for arts and crafts and plant
St James Anglican Church erected in the 1890s at Lowood has always been
a part of Rosewood parish. As a result of the Spring Fair held in
McKenna's Hall they were able to extend the church in 1928. Among the
wardens during the war years Miss E. Patrick was rector's warden at a
time when it was rare for women to be wardens.37
An energetic effort was made in 1936 to open a church at Somerset Dam.
An old church was shifted from Fernvale and renovated by Mr Hobbs of
Esk under the direction of the diocesan architect, Mr Percy. S. Scott
made the altar voluntarily and the lectern was a fine example of gothic
artistry. The first wedding, of Nancy M. Morris and Cyril R. Stirling
of Pittsworth was held on Wednesday 6 May 1936 in the uncompleted St
Both the Church of England and Roman Catholic
churches at Somerset were dedicated on the same Sunday, 30 August 1936,
by the respective Archbishops of Brisbane, Wand and Duhig. Two special
trains, the first with two locomotives and nine coaches and the second
with six coaches, came from Ipswich and thirty trucks took them all out
to Somerset Dam. Archbishop Wand's car overturned when it skidded in
gravel near Mt Brisbane; Mrs Wand was injured and the car was towed to
an Esk garage. However Archbishop Wand continued with his engagements
at Somerset Dam that day.38
The first Methodist church in the Brisbane Valley was built at Fernvale
on land donated by Emmanuel Denman in 1871. After the completion of the
Primitive Methodist Chapel and fencing the opening was celebrated by
Superintendent Lancaster with a special tea on 18 June 1872. Rev. J.
Spalding arrived in April 1882 as Clergyman for the district and
commenced services in Esk. Rev. W. Little, who used to ride down from
Crow's Nest for services, opened a church on 25 November 1883 in Middle
Street at a cost of £37. The Brisbane Valley circuit was formed
in 1902 with Rev. J. Moorehouse was its first minister. The Esk
congregation built a church beside the Esk Shire Council headquarters
and the old building was moved to Toogoolawah in 1906. Wilfred Hawken,
stalwart of both the Methodist church and the Esk Shire Council,
welcomed the new minister, Rev. T.H. Taylor in July 1919. Later
ministers who served in the Esk- Toogoolawah circuit were M. Lee to
March 1932, Rev. Thomas Cherry, Rev. Williams and Rev. I. H. Grimmett,
who went to King's College at the University of Queensland in 1939; Dr
Ian Grimmett returned to Esk to preach the eightieth anniversary
address in 1963. Three stained glass windows made in Toowoomba were
installed in the church in October 1983 in honour of two of the
longest-serving church members, Richard and Elsie Muller.
A Methodist church was established in Lowood in the early 1890s
following the efforts of the committee comprising E.C. Nunn, W.
Denning, E. Michel, H. Lindeman, H. Linke, A. Benhagen, H. Lawson, H.
Phelps, and W. Michel. That church lasted until 1902. In the 1920s
Assistant Station Master at Lowood, Bert Evans, assisted with all the
Methodist concerts, social evenings and church services. A short list
of the various ministers were Rev. S. Musico to 1917, Rev. I.
Castlethon from 1917, Rev. J.J. Wilson from April 1928 through the
1930s, Rev. S.J.R. Muir from 1941 to 1946, Rev. G.B. Robinson to 1950,
Rev. O.J. Gunders, and Rev. Evan Jones in the 1960s. A new parsonage
was built in 1957 to replace the old 1899 house.
There were also Methodist churches at Moore and Toogoolawah from 1907.
The Toogoolawah church was the old Esk one remodelled with a new roof,
the vestry was added in 1926, electricity installed in 1936, and the
Celia Hawken youth room was added in 1962. The first Methodist church
at Linville was built by the Carseldines before World War 1. After its
eventual closure an old school building was remodelled at Linville and
opened as a Methodist church on 6 July 1963 by Harold Richter, MLA.
The Methodist and Presbyterian churches at Esk and Toogoolawah
officially combined to form a co-operative parish in 1973 and the
Methodist minister, Rev. Kevin Bachler, was recognized by the majority
of Presbyterian members. It became the Brisbane Valley Parish of the
Uniting Church of Australia on 22 June 1977, extending from Coominya to
The Presbyterian Church was the first church established in Esk. David
and Mary McConnel saw the project as a celebration of their silver
wedding anniversary. Until the Methodists and Anglicans erected their
own buildings the church was used by all three denominations and known
as the Union Church.
The McConnels were Presbyterian and had employed a minister, Rev. Adam
McIntyre at Cressbrook in 1864. At the land sale in Esk in 1873 the
McConnels bought land on the southern side of Redbank Creek near its
junction with Sandy Creek. They promoted a subscription list for the
church and pastoralist and businessman Alexander Raff was among local
pastoral lessees who donated money for the.building. James Jones, John