St Paul’s Presbyterian Church

St Paul’s is in Tambaroora St., Hill End. It was commenced and completed in 1872 at a cost of £1500. When the church was built the construction incorporated plans for future extensions. Two doorways to the future extensions were built and then filled in. Looking on the outside it can be seen that these areas were filled in for easy removal. Inside the door on the right opens onto a blank wall and the door on the left opens into a cupboard. In 1872 Hill End had a population of 8000 people and it was thought that Hill End may have grown bigger than Sydney.

A thistle representing Scotland (presbyterianism) and grapes representing the wine/blood of Jesus is above and either side of the door and behind the pulpit.

A communion set was donated by Joseph Paxton for the opening and it is still in use. Joseph Paxton was a Doctor of Music and formerly a Precentor of Glasgow Cathedral. He became wealthy when he owned a mine on Hawkins Hill.

From 1856 onward the Rev Alexander McEwen from Mudgee made regular visits to the town, but with the completion of St Paul’s a resident minister was appointed and a Manse was built for him in Bowen Street. Incumbents or visitors over the years to 1893 were Revs. Patrick Fitzgerald, James Stirling Muir, George Balfour Goold, James Benvie, William Grant, Henry Macready, Rodger McKinnon, Colin Roger, E R Greig, George L Nairn and John Clark McDonald.

There was no electricity, so candles and oil lamps provided the lighting. Now there are two lamp light services held each year, one at Easter and the other at Christmas.

There are two organs in the church, they are both operated by foot pedals that regulate the air flow and buttons above the key board. There is no organist in Hill End so the minister brings an organist from Mudgee with him.

With the completion of St Paul’s the Rev Rodger McKinnon was appointed resident minister and we know that he was still there in May 1875 when the foundation stone was laid for the new Presbyterian church in Mudgee. Later with the decline in gold yields and drift of population the charge could no longer support a resident minister. Regular services are still being held there by the minister from Mudgee.

The furnishing is all of solid red cedar; the altar, pews and panelling around the walls.

In the 1960s metal tie-rods were used for reinforcing as there was no internal reinforcing as used today. The tie-rods actually keep the walls from falling out. The ‘S’ and ‘X’ seen on the outside of brick buildings hold these tie-rods in place.

The walls are made of random rubble, ie, stones laid randomly rather than in courses. The ceiling is a hammer beam truss and the flooring is thought to be Baltic Pine imported from Scandinavia.

In 1962 the Hill End Presbyterian Church Restoration Fund Committee was formed to raise £1,660 for the badly needed restoration of St Paul’s. The lime mortar used in the building had gone soft. It was proposed to remove soft and loose mortar and repaint the joints of the stones with cement mortar; to replace a faulty buttress at the back of the church; to secure the walls with tie-rods; and to put a concrete apron three feet wide around the building to turn water away form the foundations. Some of the window arches needed repairing and the soft interior plaster needed removing and the walls replastered with cement-sand plaster.

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