A small slab and bark church was first established at this site on the old Yass Road in 1863. The church was built by the Kinleyside family on land donated by Pemberton Campbell Palmer. The Kinleyside family came to the area from Scotland in 1835 and the church served a large local community of Scottish Presbyterians.
In 1873 the original slab church was replaced by the current stone structure using sandstone rubble quarried from Black Mountain. It was enlarged in 1902 as it had become too small to house its congregation. It was also used for other social functions.
By 1912, with the resumption of land for the Federal Capital Territory, the region’s population began to decline and church attendance fell. The church became derelict and the lease was transferred to members of the Southwell family who had bought the adjacent Fern Hill property in 1911. The church building was then used for storing hay.
The old stone church was restored in 1941 and named St Ninian’s after the first Christian missionary to Scotland. Services recommenced in 1942 with a congregation of public servants relocated to Canberra to administer the new Federal Capital.
The church hall and administrative block were added in 1961. The pioneer memorial garden was dedicated in 1963 in memory of the church’s Scottish founders. In 1977, on the inauguration of the Uniting Church in Australia, the congregation elected to become part of the new Church and the church is now known as St Ninian’s Uniting Church. The church itself was further extended in 1978-79.
The 19th Century elements of St Ninian’s Church were listed in the ACT Heritage Register in December 2011.
Further information about the church can be found at the following locations:
- St Ninian’s website which documents the history of the church (including the floods in 2018) and ‘our pioneer heritage’.
- The Hall School Museum and Heritage Centre website