52 Hampden Road
An afternoon tea of tea and plum cake probably attracted people to the opening of the Congregational Sunday School, now the Battery Point Community Hall, in February 1850. Purpose-built as a Sunday school, children were expected to attend all day!
The building was extended in the 1860s and in 1918 was bought by the Methodists for a Methodist Mission Hall and Sunday School. It operated until the 1950s, when it was marked for demolition to build a service station. Community support rallied behind Miss Dorothea Henslowe to raise money to purchase the hall as a community centre.
Well-known at the time for running historic walks around ‘the Point’, Miss Henslowe used the hall as a meeting place for small children, older boys and elderly people for many years. One afternoon a week, a group of about 30 children, who would otherwise be playing on the streets, would turn up for activities and games followed by lemon syrup and biscuits. Although she was strict, Miss Henslowe was greatly loved as:
They know I am on their side, which most adults are not, and they know I love them.
The Henslowe Park adjacent to the hall in Francis Street was named in her honour in 1990.
Today, the hall continues to provide a popular meeting place and events venue, as it has for over 100 years. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of the hall in the maintenance of the strong sense of community that still characterises Battery Point today.
I remember coming to the Battery Point Community Hall; we went to Sunday school here. The first day I came, the lady came around with a plate and I thought I was getting money – so I took two shillings out of the plate and put it into my pocket!
– Lynn Bluett talking about his childhood in the 1950s