Anglican services began in a cart shed which
belonged to Mr Fitzgibbon. A reserve of 1¼ acres
was set aside for Church of England purposes in
1859 and the first church building erected at
that time. Mr Rodda performed the duties at that
time. The Church of England building was used by
other denominations until they had buildings of
In an 1871 survey, Anglican
parisheners in the Shire numbered 481. The first
Anglican service at Little River was held in
August 1857 and Rev Frederick Strickland was
appointed to the Parish of Station Peak (Little
River and Werribee) in 1864.
In 1886 the district was divided and Rev H.
Kelly came to Lara whilst Rev Alfred Caffin
continued in what was now the Reader's District
of Wyndham, until the Stipendary Reader F.W.
Ellis arrived from Omeo in 1887. In 1891, the
then reader, Henry F. Miller was ordained and
became Curate in charge of the new Parochial
District of Werribee.
The foundation stone of the new red brick
church was laid by John Percy Chirnside, M.P. on
24 October 1900. After his death, his widow
Ethel, presented a two panelled window to the
church in his memory and one in memory of their
daughter Molly (Ethel Charlton). Other stained
glass windows in the church honour early pioneers
of the district.
The Rev. Andrew Hanna was inducted to the
pastoral charge of the Presbyterian congregations
of Wyndham, Little River and Duck Ponds (Lara) in
1866. Werribee services were held on Sunday
afternoons in the Church of England building. Mr
Hanna held the charge for only a short time for
soon afterwards he resigned from the ministry.
this time the first manse was built a mile out of
town. Rev J. Lambie was inducted in March 1868
accepting a call signed by 20 members. He
remained until 1881. In 1871 a survey showed that
there were 185 adherents of the Presbyterian
Church in Werribee.
In 1883 the Rev William White was invited from
Scotland mainly through the interest of Thomas
Chirnside. Chirnside laid the foundation stone of
the bluestone church in Werribee in February 1884
and paid for the erection of the church and
manse, both of which were built on his land. In
the same year the foundation stone for the Little
River Church was laid by Mrs White, wife of the
Werribee minister. Land for this church was
donated by Paul Cameron who also gave money and
building materials for the erection of the
church. The original bluestone building still
The land on which the Werribee church was
built was subdivided and made over to the
Trustees of the Church in 1902. The church had
stained glass windows presented by the Chirnsides
and a carved oak pew which had been raised and
enlarged to hold the choir.
In 1895 Rev John McIntosh, Minister of the
Werribee church began holding services
fortnightly at the Truganina Baptist Church. In
1907 he bought the Baptist Church building for
use by the Presbyterian Church.
The first Methodist/Wesleyan services in the area
were conducted by Sam Hayes, school teacher at
Truganina. In the late 1850's a bluestone
Methodist Church was built on the bank of
Skeleton Creek, Truganina. A wedding was held
there in 1861. For a few years, the building was
used as a school, until a school was built in
1869. The building was later sold and the stone
used to build the Robinson house in Truganina.
Methodist Church existed in Mount Cottrell as
early as 1866.
In Werribee, township land was reserved for a
primitive Methodist Church in 1869 and trustees
were appointed in 1872. Figures for Church
adherents in 1871 show 83 Methodists in the
Shire. The first records of congregation in
Werribee date from 1895 when Rev H.M. Jennison
began services in the old Shire Hall. The
congregation gradually diminished and boys from
Wesley College came to conduct meetings in the
streets and in the Old Shire Hall. As a result of
this, the Rev A. Doran was appointed to the
circuit with a congregation of 13. A wooden
church was built in 1899 and 280 people attended
the first service in a building designed to seat
A Baptist Church building of corrugated iron was
erected in Truganina in 1862 on land donated by
Samuel Evans. A local preacher, John Cropley from
Rockbank used to travel across the country to
take services at Truganina. From 1862 Rev William
Wade the first minister came once a month from
Footscray to preach.
The number of Baptists
recorded in the Shire in 1871 was 37. Over the
years attendance diminished and the building was
bought by the Presbyterian minister from
Werribee. It was burnt down in the bushfires of
In 1857 Bishop Goold established the new parish
of St Michael's Little River. At the time there
were very few Catholics living in the vicinity
but a small bluestone church with a slate roof
was erected on reserved land adjoining the
present Little River Railway Station.
Father Ronald Rankin, the first Scottish Highland
priest in Victoria, was in charge of the parish,
and Mass was celebrated every Sunday. A
Denominational School was held in the building
for some years, then a wooden school was ereccted
in the grounds.
When Fr. Rankin died the parish was closed
because of a shortage of priests and Mass was
celebrated once every six weeks by priests from
Geelong. As the population of the area grew, so
did the size of the congregation and the little
church was extended and renovated. Patrick
Preston, proprietor of the Rothwell Inn had a
bell cast in Dublin and erected near the Church.
In 1906 Werribee and Little River which had been
in a combined parish with Williamstown were made
a separate parish under Rev. Fr. Heaney.
The bluestone church was demolished in 1922
and some of the stone was used in the foundations
of the new brick church which was opened the same
Land for a Catholic Church in Werribee was
reserved in 1861 and again in 1868. With the
encouragement of Fr Thomas Neville and Fr James
McGillicuddy a Building Committee was formed. Cr
Kelly applied on its behalf for permission to
quarry bluestone at the Council quarry for the
building of the Church, and this was granted. The
church was completed and was blessed and opened
by Rt Rev J.A. Goold Bishop of Melbourne in 1871.
The predominance of Scots in the parish
influenced the naming for the patron saint of
Scotland - St Andrew. The building still stands
in the grounds of St Andrew's.
The body of the present brick church with a
temporary sanctuary was built in 1898 at the
instigation of Fr Gerald Byrne of Williamstown.
In 1937-8 the church, presbytery and garden were
renovated and the present sanctuary and two
transepts were added. These additions were
blessed by the Most Rev Daniel Mannix, D.D.,
Archbishop of Melbourne in 1938. Further
alterations were made to the building in 1980.
In 1911 a convent was built opposite the
church for the Sisters of Saint Joseph who had
come to the parish in 1910. This convent was
replaced in 1971.
Although 52 people were listed as adherents of
the Independent Church in the Shire in 1871,
there is no record of an Independent Church
meeting in Werribee, although there was one in
Little River. One of the earliest travellers to
record his experiences here was an Independent
Minister Rev William Waterfield who had been
pastor of the Church of Christ in Wrexham, North
Wales and came to Australia as a representative
of the Colonial Missionary Society in 1836.
remained in Melbourne for five years in which
time Melbourne's first permanent place of worship
was opened under his charge on the site of the
present Independent Church in Collins Street.