Early Years 1912 - 1968 During the first World War the Methodist Church opened its doors for two hours a day for people to offer their prayers for those on active service overseas. These were hard years in Port Pirie with unemployment high and typhoid fever prevalent. Missioners set up a men’s and women’s gymnasium to alleviate the idleness and planned activities for underprivileged children at Christmas. 1919 saw the continuation of harsh times in Port Pirie with a Spanish Influenza epidemic in February and in May a miner’s strike in Broken Hill, causing 2000 men to become unemployed at the Broken Hill Associated Smelters. The length of the strike meant that men had to go elsewhere to find work. All the churches felt the strain as demand for clothing and food was high. Donations of leftover bread from a local bakery and clothing, both new and repaired, from the Pirie West School were distributed through the Mission. The smelters restarted in January 1921. Limited resources were stretched further when excessive rains caused heavy flooding in March 1921. Unemployment remained high and the number of itinerants passing through Port Pirie increased. The Church Building Fund begun in the early 1900’s finally saw the new church built on the corner of Florence Street and Norman Street. The inaugural service was held on October 15th, 1922. It was later sold and is now a restaurant. Meal tickets were offered during the years of the Depression and an unemployed single men’s camp was established with Missioners negotiating with the Corporation to provide 25 beds and the government to provide blankets. The camp was forced to close in February 1930 due to lack of funds and insufficient supervision, but assistance given to single men between the ages of 20–30 years continued. As the Depression continued the number of men dependent on the Mission rose to 100. A cobbler’s shop was set up, using leather obtained from the government. One year Missioners repaired 480 pairs of boots. In August 1934 the breaking of the embankment saw the lower areas of Port Pirie flood. Despite facing hardship themselves, Missioners distributed over 500 relief parcels and opened the doors of their homes to help flood victims. Central Mission was more involved in its relief work than any other church in Port Pirie at the time. With the outbreak of World War II the Church was needed more than ever. The war time evacuation plan saw Central Mission become a relief depot in case of air raids. A train load of Asian evacuees were the first people to utilise these overnight arrangements. In January 1940 the Central Methodist Church was totally destroyed by fire. Inadequate insurance coverage forced services to be offered from the partially damaged manse. At the end of the war the Mission assisted soldiers to adjust to civilian life. Meal tickets as well as occasional accommodation and jobs around the manse were offered to men seeking help. Rev. Benn was the first Methodist Industrial Chaplain, a new concept introduced at the Smelters in 1966. When his family left Port Pirie in 1968 the Central Methodist Church was closed except for weddings and meetings and the manse was taken over as offices for the Superintendent and the Parish General Offices. The Central Mission complex was purchased by the Department of Community Welfare.