On the 4th January 1870, the laying of the foundation stone of the new church of St. Thomas at Sackville Reach was performed by the Right Rev. Dr. Barker, Bishop of Sydney; ably assisted by the Rev. W. Wood of Pitt Town, present pastor of the parish; the Rev. H.A Palmer, formerly of Pitt Town; the Rev. C.F. Garnsey and the Rev. J. Vaughan.
In an address by Mr. Stephen Tuckerman J.P., which was witnessed by many who attended on the occasion, reference was made to the previous church which was swept away in the devastating 1867 flood :
“We are under the impression that your Lordship is aware of the adverse circumstances in which we have been placed with regard to our Church by the great and destructive flood of 1867, which swept away our church, the School-house, and teacher’s residence. Since that unfortunate event, divine service has been conducted in a temporary building wholly insufficient for the requirements of the congregation. As our future prospects afford much encouragement, we have made an effort and have completed arrangements to commence the erection of a church, which your Lordship has kindly consented to lay the foundation-stone of this day ; and we feel persuaded that we shall, by perseverance and the blessing of God, be enabled to carry out the work to a successful completion”
A Building Committee had been formed and members included the Rev. W. Wood, as Chairman; Mr. Stephen Tuckerman, J.P., as Treasurer; Messrs. H. Campbell, Tristram Dunstan, E. Chatterton, J. Stephens, G.Bradley, C.H. Tuckerman, G. Manning, J. Davis, the Rev. H. A. Palmer, the Rev. H.S. King and John Stephens, builder.
The contract for the stonework was £233, of which £180 had already been raised, and it was estimated that a total sum of between £400-£450 would be needed to complete the building.
Just over twelve months later, on the 8th February 1871, the ceremony of the opening of St. Thomas Church at Sackville Reach took place. Although the weather had been very unpropitious for a week previously there were present on the occasion upwards of 200 persons from various parts of the district. The Very Rev. the Dean of Sydney, assisted by the Rev. W. Wood, officiated on the occasion. The morning service commenced at 11 o’clock precisely. The incumbent, the Rev. William Wood, read the license of the Bishop to preach and also read the prayers; and the Dean preached an excellent and impressive sermon. After the service the Holy Sacrament was administered to about thirty persons. The assemblage then retired to luncheon, at which there was a plentiful supply of the good things of the season. Previous to the commencement of the service at 3 o’clock, the Rev. W. Wood made a statement relative to the position of the church building fund. It appeared that the total cost for the completion of the church was £576 4s. 3d. The treasurer had received and paid over a considerable sum; and there was due from the Church Society a grant of £100, which was at once forthcoming; and he estimated that the balance to be provided to free the church from debt would be above £100. Evening service was then performed. The church was crowded to excess and the collections amounted to about £20. The church is situate on the side of a mountain, near its base, at the upper end of Sackville Reach, commanding a fair view of the river; it is about 16 feet above the mark of the great flood of 1867. The length of the building is 48 feet by 20 feet, including the chancel; the walls are 10 feet high, and built of solid stone; the roof is also very substantial, and the whole building reflects great credit upon the workmen employed. The inside fittings are very complete; the chancel and memorial windows are very brilliant, and display great taste, and the church will accommodate about 150 persons. [SHRB.02]
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