People have been worshiping at St Alban’s since 1889
St Alban’s Church was built in 1889 as an “outreach” into the bushland surrounding Perth and was an early example of a mission church. The church was the fifth Anglican church to be built in Perth, and was an early design by renowned architect and soldier, Joseph John Talbot Hobbs.
The population of Perth at the time was about 11,000 and growing rapidly due to the discovery of gold. At this time there were only four Anglican churches in the colony. They were St. George’s in Perth, St Bartholomew’s at East Perth, St John’s in Melbourne Rd (later St John’s Training College, Milligan Street) and the newly built church at Claremont. The Anglican parish extended to Fremantle and in the other direction to where Bayswater is now.
Now a densely populated inner city suburb just two kilometres from the CBD, in the 1870s Highgate was considered to be on the extreme northern fringe of Perth.
Amid much ceremony and celebration, one of the founders and supporters of the Mission Chapel, Mrs. Hare, laid the Foundation Stone on 27 February 1889, as part of a full choral church service. Shortly afterwards, a picnic tea was served, attended by 300 people, many coming from other parts of Perth to contribute. More money was raised on the day, and put towards the building fund.
The Foundation Stone bore a cross on the eastern side and the following inscription:
To the glory of God and in the faith of Christ, Amen.
This stone was laid by Mrs. Hare, Feb. 27th, 1889, A.D.
J. Talbot Hobbs, Architect.
The West Australian wrote in 1889:
St Albans will form an important addition to the buildings which have been erected of late years, and picturesquely situated in one of the best parts of the city, it will be one of the prettiest little churches in the colony.
The congregation grew so rapidly that it was necessary to enlarge the building, this being completed in 1898.
The building is in the Norman style; the stained glass windows are said to be Norman–style windows intended for St George’s Cathedral but given to St Alban’s as they were considered unsuitable for the Gothic cathedral.
Rev. Fred J. Price, the first Rector at St Alban’s Church, Highgate, travelled from Melbourne at the invitation of Dean Goldsmith in 1892. After disembarking from the collier Cloncurry at Albany, he came by train to Perth where he was met by among others, the Dean and J.J. Talbot Hobbs.
In 1895, a Rectory was built in Lincoln Street for Reverend Price, and in 1896 funds were raised to build the Church Hall which was located on the corner of Beaufort Street and what is now St Alban’s Avenue. The Hall was used for social events, mission services, and a Sunday School which up to 200 children attended. Reverend Price lived in the Rectory and was given the responsibility of guiding St Alban’s to independence.
St Alban’s was intended to be a test case for the division of the Perth Diocese into smaller parishes. St Alban’s Church, Highgate was an integral part of the early Anglican Church of Perth structure. It was initially the responsibility of Saint George’s Cathedral, as it had no clergy of its own. Dean Goldsmith and his associated ministers conducted the services at St Alban’s Church, Highgate until 1897, when Reverend Price was formally instituted as the Rector of the Parish. After this time, the St Alban’s clergy and congregation acted as missionaries into other areas, supporting both organisationally and financially the development of St Augustine’s in Bayswater, and bringing services to the people of Leeder Estate, now Leederville.