by Cathy Jones
The Inner West Baptist Church operates from the former St Columba’s Anglican Church at 11 Exeter Street (cnr Hornsey Rd) Homebush West. This Church is heritage listed on Strathfield Council’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP).
In the late 19th Century, the largest religious group in Strathfield was Church of England. St Anne’s Anglican Church was first established on the corner of Vernon and Brunswick Street Strathfield. The Rev. Herbert Rose was inducted as the Parish Rector. As the population grew, so did the demand for a larger church. In 1892, the site on the corner of Beresford and Homebush Road was acquired and the architectural firm of Sulman and Power were engaged to design the new church. John Sulman [1849-1934], who was once a resident of Strathfield, also designed the Strathfield Council Chambers in 1887. Sulman entered into partnership with Joseph Porter Power from 1889 to 1908, with other work including The Armidale School , Women’s College University of Sydney [1890-94] and the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital at Concord. The Church was built by John Robson.
The first portion of the Church was completed and dedicated in 1893. In 1902, the nave was completed and the Chancel was added in 1914.
Sulman & Power were also the architects of St Columba’s Flemington (later Homebush West), which was opened and dedicated for worship on Monday 12th March, 1906. The area of Flemington, south of the railway and north of Arthur Street is built on John Fleming’s 1806 land grant, which eventually came under the ownership of James Underwood and was incorporated into the larger ‘Underwood Estate’. This land was subdivided and offered for sale in 1882, with a portion of the land acquired for railway purposes, which eventually became Flemington Station in 1884. Though there was some housing built in the late 19th century, most residential development occurred in the early 20th century in Flemington, mainly timber styled cottages. A small shopping centre developed opposite the rail station, the Homebush West Public School was built in 1912 and churches such as St Columba’s of the Strathfield-Homebush Parish of St Anne’s were built to service the growing population.
In 1905, the Trustees of the Church of England purchased Lot 13, Section 11 of Deposited Plan for £120. The foundation stone was laid by Frederick M. Darley, Lieutenant Governor on 9 December 2005. The architectural firm of Sulman and Power were engaged to design the new Church and the builder was E W Grant. The total cost of the building and its contents was £1322 2s 7d.
The Church is constructed of brick with a tiled roof. Elements included an arched top window with contrasting brickwork, a brick tower with a copper spire, brick buttresses and a brick fence.
At the time of St Columba’s foundation the Rector of St Anne’s, the mother Church in the Parish, was Rev H. J. Rose. The first Churchwardens of St Columba’s were H.J. Ferguson, Walter W. Davis and R. Orchard.
This building is currently being operated as the Inner West Baptist Church.
Written and (c) Cathy Jones 2011.