Lost Churches of South Australia;
Methodist New Connexion Church.
Methodist New Connexion Church
1915: SLSA:[B 4340]
In June 1864, the Adelaide Express newspaper reported that Reverend Maughan’s New Connexion Church was nearing completion. The Methodist New Connexion Church was officially opened on 19 December 1864.
It was situated on the corner of Franklin and Pitt Streets.
The South Australian Weekly Chronicle published a description of the newly completed Church:
The church, which was erected from the designs and under the superintendence of Mr. James Macgeorge, is a building which, in its exterior aspect may almost be said to represent a new era in ecclesiastical architecture in Adelaide.
The church, which was erected from the designs and under the superintendence of Mr. James Macgeorge, is a building which, in its exterior aspect, may almost be said to represent a new era in ecclesiastical architecture in Adelaide.
Hitherto church buildings, if of the ordinary rubble and brick, have been stuccoed in resemblance of stone, or at all events the brick has been used in such a way as to show that no effect or prominence was intended to be given to it as brickwork.
In the new structure in Franklin-street, however, quite a different idea has been followed. The materials – brick and stone – are not only used without any disguise, but are disposed in a manner highly ornamental, both as to form and color, the recessed and fretted doorways displaying many beautiful combinations of ornamental brick exemplifying the former, and suggesting: the almost endless variety which may be obtained in this style of structural ornamentation; and in point of color the brick finishing’s throughout, relieved against the neutral tints of the walls, give a pleasing and satisfactory chromatic effect.
The spire is carried up entirely in brick, the mortar used being of a blue color, and bands of firebrick are introduced, which enliven its appearance, and harmonize with the cut stone windows of the front. The principal front is towards Franklin-street, with an entrance tower and spire in the centre, 20 feet square at the ground, and rising to a height of more than 100 feet. The tower doorway is beautifully executed in brick, with columns at the sides (to be finished with carved stone capitals), and in the upper part of the tower there Is a circular window, filled with stone tracery of elegant design; and above the tower, at the base of the spire there are four pinnacles, one at each angle, and between each pair of pinnacles a traceried window for lighting the spire, and the spire itself is terminated by a copingstone, surmounted by a gilt finial and vane, forming an appropriate and beautiful termination to the whole.
The front of each side of the tower shows a tall stone-traceried window, set in brick, arch, and jambe, and resting upon a brick string. The main building is 84 feet by 46 feet internal dimensions. The walls are of substantial thickness, varying from 3 feet, and nowhere less than 2 feet through. Each side of the building is divided into six bays or compartments by bodily projecting buttresses, the ornamental parts of which, as well as of the walls and windows between, are carried out in ornamental brick.
The compartment next the front on each side is finished transpet like, with a tall gable and stone traceriel window, the steep pitch of which relieves the flatness of the main roof, and, together with the ornamental ridging and crosses on the gables, gives a pleasing variety to the sky outline, and the uniformity of slating is agreeably broken by the introduction of bands and patterns of ornamental slates. The same decorative construction has been applied to the rear of the building, the vestries having three two-light windows in the back elevation, and the wall is surmounted by an open brick parapet, and the roof, which is steep, finishing with a very ornamental ridging; and when seen from the rear the tout ensemble is as pleasing as that presented from any other point of observation.
Entering the building we commence again at the tower entrance, which is 12 feet square inside and 20 feet high, having a cornice around the ceiling, and a floor of ornamental design in marble and tiles. We pass from the tower through an archway to a lobby, seven feet wide, ceiled, and divided by a screen wall from the rest of the church. At the extremes right and left there will be staircases to the gallery, which will ultimately be added. Folding doors open from the lobby to the church. The interior roof is divided into six compartments similar to the exterior by means of stained oak principals resting upon projecting hammer beams, and wall-posts resting upon enriched corbels between each pair of windows. A beautiful, enriched cornice rails the entire length of each side, corresponding in style with the projecting hammer-beams, and the ceiling is further subdivided into 38 panels by moulded purlines running transversely \’to the principals.
The ceiling forms two inclined planes meeting in the centre ridge, from whence two gasaliers of double circles depend, and in the centre is placed a ventilating apparatus, which may be regulated at pleasure. The front and side windows are fitted with stained glass of varied and beautiful patterns, and the windows are finished with mouldings and enriched labels. The further or pulpit end of the church has a large centre arch and niche, with a circular traceried window, filled with coloured glass. On either side of the centre arch there is a smaller arch, the group of three, with their mouldings and pillared jambs, occupying the whole of this end of the church. In each side arch a door of very beautiful design communicates with the vestries. The platform and communion rail are of octagonal form, and occupy the recess of the centre arch, and project into the body of the church. They are executed in cedar, with carved newels, and traceried panels of beautiful design form the communion rail and arched and pillared front to the platform, surmounted by handsome fretwork; and an elegant lectern is in the place of a desk.
The seats are particularly convenient and comfortable, attaining a just medium as to height, slope of back, &c., and the ends of novel design, having nothing to obstruct the view. In the side aisles the seats are inclined towards the platform, and at the end next the entrance there is a seat for the choir, and from the platform the floor rises slightly to the entrance-doors. The accommodation, exclusive of the gallery, is for 550 persons, allowing 20 inches to each. The church, when the end gallery is completed, will seat *00 persons at the same scale, without reckoning free seats.
At the rear of the building there is a class-room 27 x 17, and minister\’s vestry, 17 x 11, both lighted with gas, and between the two is arranged belief and cold and hot water pipes, together with the requisite heating apparatus. Contrary to the usual plan, the work was not let in one contract but was subdivided into several contracts. Of the manner in which the work is carried out. there is no need to speak.
The work speaks for itself; and the result, in a pecuniary sense, must be highly satisfactory to the Trustees of the church, for the aggregate cost of the building- thus subdivided is some hundreds of pounds less than the Architect\’s estimate. Nor will the extras exceed the limit assigned by him when the work was let, namely, S per cent, upon the contract sum, £3,472. The structure reflects credit upon all concerned; upon the Trustees for their selection; upon the Architect for the elegant building- he has evolved from the materials at his disposal, and at a minimum of cost; and upon the contractors for the skill and attention they have bestowed upon the work. Ventilation is well provided for by means of openings in the windows at the eaves on both sides, and in the centre of the ceiling by four large tubes fitted with valves. Acoustically the building is perfect; it is easy to speak in, and there is not the slightest resonance or echo, and the lowest tones of the speaker are perfectly audible at the extreme end of the building. Probably the inclined form of ceiling- conduces greatly to this result, while it shows the adaptability of gothic architecture to yield this the most important qualification of an auditorium.\’
Prior to the completion of the Albert Tower spire on the Adelaide Town Hall, the spire of the Methodist Church was the highest point in the City of Adelaide between 1864 and November 1865.
In 1888, the Methodist New Connexion Church merged with the Bible Christian Church. In 1900, the church became the Methodist Central Mission.
In 1954, after an earthquake, it was feared the spire of the church would collapse. In high winds, bricks had begun to fall into the office area of 5KA and the Methodist Mission below. Pitt Street was cordoned off, and demolition crews were called in to remove the spire. This was the beginning of the end for the old church.
The Church was demolished in 1863, with the New Maughan Church and Radio City building opening in 1865.
Written and researched by Allen Tiller © 2020
 \’HEADS OF INTELLIGENCE.\’, The Adelaide Express (25 June 1864), p. 2.
 \’COMPLETION OF THE ALBERT TOWER.\’, South Australian Register, (30 November 1865), p. 3.
 Maughan Church, Adelaide 1896 [PRG 631/2/474], State Library of South Australia, [Photograph], (10 May 2005), https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/PRG+631/2/474.: Maughan Church, Franklin St, Adelaide [B 4340], State Library of South Australia, [Photograph], (6 June 2005), https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+4340.
 \’CITY SCARE OVER SPIRE\’, News, (8 March 1954), p. 1.