The Presbyterian neighbours…

West Melbourne Presbyterian Church

By 1860 West Melbourne had become a popular and affluent residential area. The population included many from Scotland and Northern Ireland who considered there was a need for a Presbyterian Church in their district. Public meetings were held in 1865 where it was agreed that a congregation be formed. A land grant was obtained on the North-East corner of Lonsdale and William Streets. Without following the prescribed procedures the congregation immediately offered a call to Rev Andrew Robertson. He was inducted on 29 June 1865 in a hastily built wooden church. The opening of the bluestone church took place on 28 April 1867.

College Church Parkville

About 1885 the Presbyterian families of Parkville felt the need for a local Sunday school as it was too far for the children to walk to Carlton, North Melbourne or Brunswick several times a day. Parkville was part of the district or parish assigned by the Presbytery of Melbourne to Erskine Church located on the corner of Rathdowne and Grattan Streets.

Accommodation was obtained in Killarney a house in Park Drive (then known as Park Street and possibly number 177) and the Kirk Session began a Sunday school on 15 March 1885. Children of all denominations attended the Sunday school and soon more room was required. A building was erected in Gatehouse Street and opened in 1887. Soon after the opening evening services were commenced.

In 1891, a memorial, signed by 83 memorialists was sent to the Presbytery of Melbourne North requesting that steps be taken to establish a Church at Parkville. As a result the Presbytery agreed to divide the Erskine district into two; the minister, three elders together with nearly fifty members formed the Parkville portion. Services commenced on 18 October 1891 in Wyselaskie Hall, part of the Theological Hall in the grounds of Ormond College with the understanding that the congregation would build their own Church.

The congregation purchased from the Government a site fronting Sydney Road, at the entrance to Royal Park for £550 in 1895. The Church building was designed by the architect Mr R A Lawson with a crown tower modelled on the King’s College tower, Aberdeen and St Giles’ Edinburgh. The opening service was held in August 1898.