HOSKINS CHURCH COMPLETED
Charles Hoskins was a wealthy and powerful man who revolutionised the steel industry. However as Small Arms Factory historian Tony Griffiths muses, for all the pugnacity of his approach, he must have had a softer side.
Hoskins did indeed. The men and women of the Hoskins family were active members of a variety of causes, including the Sydney City Mission, the Scout Movement, the Australian Mutual Provident Society, the Australian Red Cross, which was Emily Hoskins’ personal passion, and charities for disabled children. He was a doting grandparent, indulging his grandchildren with a miniature zoo at Cadia Park, with peacocks and peahens, koalas, emus, wallabies, a kangaroo, a macaw and monkeys. And, during his time in Lithgow, he suffered great personal tragedy, losing a son and two daughters.
Hoskins Memorial Church is dedicated to Emily and Charles’ oldest son Guildford Hoskins, who died at the age of 29 in an acetylene gas explosion whilst trying to repair a generator at ‘Eskroy Park’. Hoskins already owned the land where the church now stands. According to Cecil Hoskins it was ‘an eyesore - a brickworks, dilapidated by disuse, a clay pit with stagnant water, ugly and dangerous, and a rubbish dump.’ Hoskins initially intended to build a Presbyterian Church, but thinking that one day various churches would combine he thought big, planning a church to hold 1,000 people. The expense meant the project dragged on, and Hoskins died before it was finished on 14 February 1926.
Emily and the two surviving Hoskins boys oversaw the completion of the church. Although the foundations had already been laid, architect John Barr changed the plans so the church would seat 450 people—The foundations for the larger church lie beneath the gardens, designed by Paul Sorenson of Leura. Hoskins Memorial Church was opened on the 24th and 25th of November, but tragically not even Emily lived to see it. She died five days beforehand and the ceremony was conducted by Guildford’s widow Jeanie.
The windows, made by John Ashwin & Co., mark the sad losses. The east depicts Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’, and was dedicated by Emily Hoskins to her husband Charles. The west, ‘Christ Blessing Little Children’, is dedicated to Guildford. The north, Burne Jones’ ‘The Nativity’, was placed in memory of 18 year old Hilda Hoskins, who had died in a level crossing accident at Eskroy in 1912. The south window, Axel Ender’s ‘The Resurrection’, was for Nellie Hoskins, who died aged 20 of tuberculosis. The pulpit and baptismal font were given by Mr and Mrs Sid Hoskins, in memory of their infant children Eric (1918-1922) and Charles (1920-1922), who had also died in tragic circumstances.
The Charles Hoskins Memorial Institute had been built and opened in December 1927 by Premier Thomas Bavin, as a gift to Lithgow.
Donald Geoffrey Hoskins, The Ironmaster; The Life of Charles Hoskins 1851-1926, 1995
Sir Cecil Hoskins, The Hoskins Saga, 1968
Tony Griffiths, The Small Arms Factory and Its People, Vol. 1, 2006