Shire of Murray makes plan to save St John’s Church

The structural integrity and historical charm of Pinjarra’s reputable St John’s Church could soon be saved, following a proposal to transfer ownership of the site to the Shire of Murray.

At its December council meeting, council voted to support the transfer the property for no fee from its current owners, the Anglican Diocese of Bunbury.

The agreement was struck subject to comprehensive building inspections including design and restoration costs being formally presented back to council.

The Anglican Diocese of Bunbury indicated St John’s Church and Churchyard, which forms part of the Murray River foreshore, were no longer fit for purpose due to the nature of the site and costs associated with restoration requirements.

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According to shire president David Bolt, the site is an integral component of Pinjarra’s Heritage Precinct and contributes “enormously” to the town’s social fabric and sense of place.

“St John’s Church is one of the oldest extant church buildings in Western Australia still used for religious purposes and is an early example of a small rural church designed in the Victorian Gothic style of architecture,” he said. 

“The site has been listed within the Shire’s Local Government Heritage Inventory as holding exceptional historical value, while associated conservation efforts align closely with the Shire’s Murray 2025 Strategic Community Plan.

“A transfer to Shire ownership would further contribute towards continuous public ownership of the foreshore reserve and facilitate greater opportunity for community access.”

In 2015, a structural engineer inspected the premises and identified termite damage on the timber wall plate as well as structural issues with the roof.

Mr Bolt said that the shire’s Heritage Architect undertook a brief physical inspection of the building in 2017, identifying damage to external brickwork and the need for damaged timber on doors and windows to be repaired or replaced.

“Council has held discussions with The National Trust of Western Australia regarding their Heritage Appeal Program,” he said. 

“A Heritage Appeal for the St John’s Church site will be launched shortly, enabling community members to contribute tax deductible funds in order to assist with restoration works.

“It is known that the Murray community value the historical worth of the site, located adjacent to Edenvale Homestead and Glebe Land.

“The possibility of linking these areas would enable the Shire to further explore opportunities to open the site for community enjoyment, tourism and commercial prospects, providing supplementary income to assist with ongoing maintenance costs.”

The Church and Churchyard are reserved for the purpose of Regional Open Space under the Peel Region Scheme.

Additionally, the site has been classified by The National Trust of Western Australia and entered in the Australian Heritage Commission’s Register of the National Estate.

The Anglican Diocese of Bunbury plan to construct a new church on their nearby site, located on the corner of Murray and Henry Streets, Pinjarra.