Saturday, August 20, 2011

St James, Presbyterian Church - Thames, New Zealand

There are no shortages of photos for this grand old Church, from the coloured one below, to the older ones, that are characterised by the fence surrounding the imposing wooden building. Situated on the corner of Pollen and Pahau Street, Thames; with the church on the south side and the old Junction Hotel on the north side. In the early days of the goldfield, pre:Borough amalgamation this intersect marked the boundary between Grahamstown to the North and Shortland to the South.
From the time the goldfields opened (1st August 1867) church meetings and gatherings were held for many denominations, including the Presbyterian Church. From Auckland people of the church came and provided services fortnightly in a variety of places, from home to public halls. The first Church built in 1868 on the corner of Rolleston and Richmond Street, followed by a second church in 1871 on the present site. (Corner of Pollen and Pahau Streets)
In 1896 it was decided to build a new church and the old one was shifted to the back of the section, where it remains to day as the ST JAMES HALL. The magnificent Church was designed by Mr W H Skinner and built by Mr W M Hay, with the foundation stone being laid 5th February 1898. The Church was opened for services Sunday July 24th 1898.  The church today is now The Thames Union Church following the amalgamation of the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches in 1973.
St James Presbyterian Church, Thames New Zealand

There are two booklets covering the history of the church in Thames:
"St James Church Thames, Centennial 1898-1998" and "Thames Union Parish, Some snippets of Early History"; as well as histories in Thames anniversary books.

St James Church seat Letting book details for 1872-1894 are available online
Details of Church records can be obtained from the church archives or from the Church office in Thames. The Treasury, Thames is currently involved in a project to photocopy the church records and index them available for researchers.