Hop Kiln Building

How Did We Begin?

Where did we come from! “When our family shifted to Hastings in the 1940’s I attended Parkvale School and went to Sunday School at the old “HOP KILN” off Selwood Rd., (renamed Windsor Avenue). This historic building was part of my social and religious life for many years. It has been associated with the early development of the Anglican church in East Hastings”. (from “Betty Cardings’ book “History of St. Matthews” A tenancy agreement for part of the old Hop Kiln was signed, 30/11/1921.)

Thomas Tanner had established hop gardens in 1882 at Riverslea. The double kilned Oast house off Selwood Rd. was built for Mr Alfred Masters who had acquired extensive hop gardens from Thomas Tanner in the 1890’s providing shelter for many settlers in the disastrous 1897 floods and later used as a school, Sunday School, community and Mission Hall. (The brick ends fell down in the 1931 earthquake).

St Matthew’s Vestry in 1928 had been concerned about the growing population in Parkvale and the need for a Sunday School. The Daily Telegraph reported on 19.6.1929 that St. Matthew’s offered financial support to purchase the Hop Kiln. Rev. Hobbs arranged purchase from Mr Masters. Parishioners enthusiastically renovated the Hall ready for its Dedication in 1930. Revd Hobbs was asked to Preach. Deaconess Holmes applied for kneelers which cost thirty four shillings a dozen. No record has been found but presumably this became St. Barnabas Mission Hall, affectionately known as The old Hop Kiln

Many persons were associated with the new mission Church; Revd. C Mortimer-Jones, Revd. WT Drake, Captain Bert Sutcliffe of Church Army, Deaconess Holmes. Later on Deaconess Hen and Curate Terry Loten are two that I remember. Also Layman John Cartwright who took Sunday School in the ’40’s and I’m sure a Mrs Guthrie took us older girls for Bible Class. Sunday School was held on the upper floor with classes at various parts of the room. Sunday Service was held downstairs and I remember at the age of twelve playing the old harmonium for the singing of hymns.

Various community groups used the upper floor, Parkvale Ladies Guild, Parkvale Girl Guide Company (of which I was a member) led by Mary Van Ash [Asch] and of course Brownies as well as other community groups. Stella Lassen remembers “it was the building where we had barn dances with bales of hay, decorations and seating. A fun place to go with little expense. I attended Sunday School with lovely Deaconess Holmes”.

Many I’ve contacted remember the spectacular fire that destroyed the old historic building, flames reaching high in the air, but we cannot remember the date other than sometime in 1952 probably a Sunday afternoon. The Old Hop Kiln was a familiar landmark in Riverslea. I believe certain items were retrieved from the building and are still in existence. After the fire, St. Barnabas Mission Hall was built and Revd Button from St. Matthews became our Minister with us being served by curates of that period.

This was all a long time ago when we were young but I’m hoping there are others who have memories of that early period and can add to the story of “How we Began”.

Nanette Roberts

Photo captions –
The Old Hop Kiln
St Barnabus [Barnabas] Church 1934

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Connections, St Peter's Church, Hastings


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