As quoted in “Hiraeth”, a history of the Welsh and the Welsh Free Church in Western Australia, the Church has been the cradle of the Welsh language and culture in this State since 1904, nurturing Welsh migrants love of song and their commitment to Christian values.
“Hiraeth” is a Welsh word which translates to English as “longing” or “yearning” but to Welsh people it means so much more. It embodies a timeless spiritual feeling of pride in a small Celtic country which has, despite great odds, kept its ancient language, culture and identity and more importantly its Christian soul.
This it has achieved mainly through the commitment of its Protestant religious leaders and the determination of the populace to continue worshipping their makes in the poetic language and music of their forebears.
The Swan River Colony was established in 1829 when it is reputed that a 23 year old Welsh lady named Anne was in the first boat to be rowed up the Swan River on 18 June. Whilst Western Australia had only 101 Welsh-born people in 1870, the development of the mining industry in the 1880s and early 90s brought an increasing flood of Welsh migrants. These developments were focussed mainly at Collie where coal was found in the early 1880s, followed by gold discoveries in the Kimberly in 1886 and in the areas around Kalgoorlie in 1892.
However, it took the Welsh Religious Revival of 1904 -05 to awaken the attention of Welsh people worldwide to the immense value of organising peoples’ lives and society on strong Christian principles. Indeed, the West Australian in late 1904 described the spiritual awakening sweeping Wales and advertised a Christmas Welsh service at Trinity Congregational Church. Apparently it was such a success, that similar services were planned in Fremantle, and during 1905 a committee was established with the task to set up a Welsh Church in Perth.
Finally on 19th August, 1905, the West Australian reported that a Welsh Free Church would commence its activities at the Wesley Church on Sunday, 27th August. Thereafter regular services were held at various locations, but from December 1915 all services have been held at Trinity Church, St Georges Terrace.
(Information sourced from the publication “Hiraeth” written by Dr Susan Hart, on the history of the Welsh and the Welsh Free Church in Western Australia, published by Uniprint, University of Western Australia. This book is available for viewing at the State Library of Western Australia and at the Murdoch University Library. Click on the book image for more information.)