Welsh immigrants to Australia built Nonconformist chapels as the symbols of their presence and as organising centres for their communities. In Melbourne and across the Victorian goldfields, these chapels were the focal point for Welsh gatherings, Welsh language newspapers and the Welsh networks that assisted newly-arrived migrants to find friendship, housing and employment. As those migrants and their children assimilated into Australian society and post war immigration from Wales slowed down, many of those chapels fell into disuse or disappeared completely.
The Melbourne Welsh Church continues some of its religious services in the language of its founders – one of only a handful of chapels outside the United Kingdom to worship in Welsh. It is now a multicultural community that celebrates its heritage and focuses on ministering to Melbourne. This book explores the story of the early years of the church and the development of the Welsh community in Melbourne from its foundation in 1840 to the outbreak of the First World War.
Professor Bill Jones of the University of Cardiff brings the story of the Welsh in Victoria to life with the eye of the academic historian and access to primary sources in Victoria and in Wales.