HISTORY OF ST PATRICK'S MT LAWLEY
The suburb of Mount Lawley was named in 1901 after Sir Arthur Lawley, Governor of the state of Western Australia from 1901 to 1902. His wife, Lady Lawley, consented to the name on the condition that no hotels were to be established in the area. The first houses were erected in 1909, while the first Anglican church, St Patrick’s, was opened in 1912.
In the years before St Patrick’s was built, the residents of Mount Lawley were ministered to by St Alban’s Anglican church in Highgate. St Alban’s was opened for worship in 1889, and for 23 years its clergy and readers ministered to Mount Lawley residents until St Patrick’s opening in 1912. In that year, a wooden hall with iron roof was erected on one of two adjacent blocks on Beaufort Street between First and Second Avenues (the Astora flats now occupy this block).
On Sunday March 17, 1912 (St Patrick’s Day) at 4:30pm a service was held at which Bishop (later Archbishop) C.O.L. Riley named the building after St Patrick, dedicated it, and declared it open for worship. Archdeacon Hudleston conducted the service and Mr E.H. Prahl assisted as lay-reader. There was a congregation of 135. Hereafter, services were held each Sunday, with the parish of St Alban’s supplying the clergy and lay readers and Archdeacon Hudleston assisting.
Disaster struck on Friday February 26, 1915 at 3am when the wooden hall was blown down in a severe storm. However, undeterred, the parishoners re-erected the hall while adding some improvements, and the repaired and updated building was re-dedicated by Archbishop Riley on Sunday May 2, 1915. This building was to be in continuous use as a church, and later a hall, until the late 1950’s.
Part of the building was used for a while in the early 1920’s by the students of St John’s Theological College. A new Altar was installed 1928-9, and a Credence Table—made by Mr Smith of Perth College—was dedicated on Sunday February 24, 1935, being the gift of Canon Perry in memory of his wife.
During the early 1930’s, efforts were made to build up funds to provide for a proposed new church. In April 1935, Mr E.W. Hamer offered his home and property on the corner of Beaufort Street and First Avenue as a Rectory and as site for a Church and a Hall. The property comprised five blocks of land and the price asked was £4,000. A special committee considered the proposition and on May 19, 1935, the Vestry accepted the committee’s recommendation. The Diocesan Trustees were advised of the decision.
Architects were enlisted to draw up plans for the new church building and building was to commence as soon as possible. The foundation stone was laid by Archbishop Henry Le Fanu on March 22, 1936, the nearest Sunday to St Patrick’s Day. In the recess under the stone some coins of the realm and copies of the “West Australian” newspaper and the “Church News” were deposited.
The last service held in the old church building was on Sunday August 2, 1936, after which it served as the parish hall until 1957, when it was then demolished. The church bell was gifted away in 1937 to the church at Cunderin (it had formerly been in use at the Cloisters when it was the theological college). The site sold for over £4,000 when it was finally sold in 1962.
The Consecration of the new church was held on Sunday August 9, 1936 when the People’s Warden, Mr F. Moore petitioned the Archbishop to consecrate the building. The Rector’s Warden, Mr H.V. Shearn, assisted at the ceremony. Mr Allwood was the contractor and the architects were Messrs Parry and Clifton. Estimated cost was £3,500. The church is 103ft long, 32ft wide, and the height of the peak of the roof 44ft.
In 1894 Trinity Congregational Church in Perth installed a pipe organ made by Norman and Beard of London (the first to be sent by them to Australia) and it was installed by R.C. Clifton. In 1929, the organ was transferred to the Johnson Memorial Church in Fremantle. In 1966, when Johnson Memorial Church was to be demolished, the Reverend Alec Bateman was instrumental in arranging for the Elders of that church to offer their pipe organ to St Patrick’s Vestry. The Vestry agreed to purchase it for $4,000 and the organ was installed by Mr Paul Hufner in 1968. The work was completed in 1970.