Church History

Until the early 1920’s all Church of England churches on the northern beaches were part of the Parish of St. Matthew’s Manly.

In 1922 the Mission District of Narrabeen with Pittwater was created with the Rev. Frederick Greville as Curate-in-Charge with a stipend of $600 p.a. plus house. Prior to that Mr. Greville was the Curate at Manly, having been appointed there in 1918.

On 9 July 1924 the Church of England Property Trust Diocese of Sydney purchased from a Mr. George Rudkin Jackson a parcel of land in Queens Parade Newport to be used as a site for a “Church Parsonage or Parish Hall”. I have been unable to ascertain the purchase price. That property remained the site of St. Michael and All Angels church until 1956.

The Rev. Frederick Standen followed Mr Begbie in 1938 and additional church buildings were established at Church Point and Palm Beach.  In 1942, the Rev. Allen Pattison was appointed to succeed Mr Standen.  The stipend had remained at $600 for over 20 years but was increased to $700 in 1945.  The Rev. Charles Sherlock, who had been appointed Curate in 1941, enlisted as an RAAF Chaplain in 1942 and did not return to the parish after the war.

1950 saw the appointment of the Rev. Robert Ingham as Curate on a stipend of $624 p.a. and the appointment of the Rev. W. (Bill) Osbome-Brown as Rector on a stipend of $1,000 p.a.

During Mr. Osborne-Brown’s incumbency he arranged for the purchase of our present church site. He once told me that he had bid for the property at auction for $9,000 and, after paying the deposit, raced around the parish and found four parishioners who each promised him up to $2,000 to help fund the purchase price.

In 1952 the Parish of Narrabeen was split with the creation of the Provisional District of Pittwater. It then comprised Mona Vale, Newport, Avalon and Palm Beach. The Rev. Ken Short was appointed Curate-in-Charge. The Provisional District became a Provisional Parish *in 1954.

The Rev. Brian Richardson followed him in 1955 on a stipend of $1,500 p.a. (the records I have researched ceased to record stipends after that date) and the Rev. Neville Keen became the first Rector of the Parish of Pittwater in 1958.

The Standing Committee of the Diocese had, in 1956, authorised the sale of the Queens Parade site with the proceeds to be applied in repaying the remaining debt of $1,598 owing on the present church site. Any balance was then to be applied towards the purchase of a property in Avalon, which was used as the Avalon rectory. The building then standing on the Queens Parade site was relocated to Foamcrest Avenue and is the middle section of the building now known as “the Allpress Centre”.

Bishop Clive Kerle set the Foundation Stone of our present church building on 12 December 1959. The cost of construction and furnishings was made possible by very generous donations from a number of parishioners, especially Mr. Frank Spurway who virtually paid for the total cost of the building. The church building was dedicated on 19 June, 1960 by Bishop (later Archbishop) Marcus Loane.

In 1961 the Parish was divided with the Mona Vale area becoming a Provisional District under the Rev. George Townend. The Parish of Avalon then comprised Newport, Bilgola, Avalon and Palm Beach. The Rev. Alwyn Prescott was appointed Rector in 1963 and in the same year the Rev. Bruce Horton was appointed Curate.

Things remained that way with Bruce Horton being responsible for services at Newport until 1966 when the Provisional District of Newport was established with Bruce being appointed Curate-in-Charge.

Prior to that time Bruce and Margaret, his wife, had lived at the lower end of Grandview Drive in a small flat at the back of the home of then parishioners. When Newport became a separate entity the late Miss Gwen Allpress sold her family holiday home at 4 Foamcrest Avenue to the church on very generous terms. On her death in 1976 the remaining debt was, under the terms of her Will, extinguished. This property remained the rectory until 2007, when it was sold to enable the purchase of the current rectory at 22 Nullaburra Road.

Gwen had been extremely generous to the Parish and, together with Mrs. Mary Walter, had paid for alterations and additions to the former wooden church building. Gwen subsequently paid for the addition of the existing kitchen. In appreciation of all she had done for the parish, both materially and spiritually, the building was named the “Allpress Centre”. The “Forrest Room”, which was built about 1960, was named after Mr. John Forrest who had been rector’s warden in the parish of Pittwater for many years.

During the 1950’s land had been purchased at Bilgola Plateau and ‘in 1961 Newport became responsible of the maintenance of that land, and payment of rates and interest on the then existing loan. However, by 1970 the parish was unable to meet those costs and the Anglican Church Finance & Loans Board, which had funded the purchase, sold the land. Newport was reimbursed for what it had paid out over the years but, because it had not paid anything off the loan, did not share in the actual sale proceeds.

The Rev. John Drayton was appointed Curate-in-Charge *in 1970 and when Newport became a Parish in 1974 he became our first Rector. John served us faithfully and well and following his retirement in 1996 we saw the appointment of the Rev. Peter Clark. Upon his resignation to take up a position at Hunter’s Hill Parish in 2007, the Rev. Jason Ramsay, our present Rector, was appointed.

Gordon Begbie and Ken Short both became Bishops of our Diocese, Brian Richardson became an Archdeacon, and at least 3 of our former ministers became Canons of St. Andrew’s Cathedral. We have been truly blessed by the clergy and lay people who have ministered to us in the past, and by those who continue to do so.

Written by W. A. Drain