Sunday, 1 May 2016

Old Hutchins School Building

The Hutchins School was founded in 1846 as a memorial to The Venerable William Hutchins, first Archdeacon of the colony of Van Diemen’s Land. Intended by the Church of England as a southern feeder school for Christ’s College at Bishopsbourne, it outlived the College and eventually absorbed its predecessor, along with several other notable schools, to become the pre-eminent boys’ school in Tasmania.

Hutchins commenced operations under Headmaster J R Buckland at Ingle Hall in lower Macquarie Street, one of the oldest homes still standing in Hobart. In 1849 it moved a few blocks up Macquarie Street to a purpose-built schoolhouse designed by Tasmanian architect, William Archer on grounds that were part of the Government Garden. The site now affectionately known as 'the old school'. In 1907 and 1911 Hutchins amalgamated with King's Grammar School and Queen's College, and after difficult times at the turn of the century enrolments were again healthy. In 1912 it took over another Hobart school, Queen's College, which had been founded in 1893. In 1913, the Christ College Wing was added, designed by architect Alex North in the gothic style of the orginal building.

By the 1950s the School was growing too large for its inner-city site and a new Junior School was built on an elevated site overlooking the River Derwent at Sandy Bay. The Senior School followed later, constructed on the adjacent site of the former Queenborough Cemetery The Buckland family’s combined forty-six years in charge of Hutchins served to set the School on a distinguished educational and spiritual path, and it continues to expand and develop to this day.

In 1957 a new Junior School opened at Sandy Bay, following the sub-primary block opened there in 1947 and the Memorial Oval in 1955. The Senior School followed in stages, after the purchase of the former Queenborough Cemetery in 1960 and the subsequent construction of a boarding house, science wing, administration block and classrooms, all opened in 1964.

The Macquarie Street building was sold in 1965 and Hutchins commenced full operations at Sandy Bay the following year, gradually adding a Middle School, Early Learning Centre, chapel, gymnasium, auditorium, sports grounds and performing arts centre.

In 1967, the Masonic Club purchased the buildings, while the original school areas of land were sold to other owners. The original Hutchins School building became the home of the Hobart Masonic Club until 2002 while the Christ College building were leased out to private tenants and continue to house private tenants. In the tradition of the Freemasons whose early origins dated back to the middle ages who built many of the castles and cathedrals in Europe, the outside of this historic sandstone building was preserved in its original state during their tenure.

The building has become the home for the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources organization which continues to occupy the building to this day.

This building is wonderful and is truly a remarkable structure and a really impressive part of the Macquarie Street streetscape and Hobart’s history.

Main Text & Information Sources – 
Interpretive signs at the site

Historic Photo – 

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Red Feather Inn, Hadspen

The Red Feather Inn is a heritage listed building in Hadspen's main street. It was built as a coaching inn and in the 21st century has been used for a restaurant and accommodation. The building's frontage is a substantial sandstone single-storey building. Land falls away sharply from the street and the building's rear has two-storeys.

Rising affluence in the 1840s had enabled growth of the coach transport industry. When built the Red Feather Inn was the first horse-change point on the road from Launceston, 8 miles (13 km) away, to Deloraine, and it was one of the colony's earliest coaching inns. It was built, starting in 1842, for local police magistrate Charles Arthur. It was built by John Sprunt, also builder of Macquarie House in Launceston's civic square, using convict hewn sandstone blocks and convict labour.

The inn was first licensed in 1844 and was at first successful. In only a few decades its fortunes declined when a rail line was built from Launceston, reaching nearby Carrick in 1869.  The economy of rail transport took goods and passengers away, forcing wagons from the road. This reduced the demand for coaching inns, and led to a general decline in traffic through and business in the town.

As of 2004 it was run as a restaurant and, after a 2008 refurbishment, has been used for accommodation and a cooking school.

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Sunday, 24 April 2016

St James Church, Jericho

Four years before the settlement of Oatlands began, the first recorded religious service was held at Jericho, on the 23 February 1823. It was conducted by the Reverend Samuel Marsden from N.S.W. in the home of Mr. Thomas Gregson, “Northumbria”, Jericho. The movement for the erection of a church at Jericho began in 1827. Up until this time, the district was being supplied by William Pike, a catechist, who lived at “Park Farm”, Jericho.

The original church was designed by John Lee Archer and was consecrated by Bishop William Grant Broughton on Tuesday 10 May 1838. Fifty years later, cracks appeared in the building, and it was decided to erect another building on the same site. The new church, St James’ Church, Jericho was designed by Henry Hunter and built by Walter Fish at a cost of 839 pounds and consecrated by Bishop Sandford on the 29th April 1888

As a dominant township element, St. James’ is of great significance to Jericho. Architectural fittings and furnishings bear dedications to prominent early members of the district, including Thomas Gregson who was Premier of Tasmania in 1857, and whose property “Northumbria” borders the church. St. James’ is listed on the Tasmanian Heritage Register for its community values and its ability to represent a modest sandstone Victorian Gothic Church. Walter Fish was responsible for the stonework and the woodwork was carried out by Charles Ellen, both of Oatlands.

The stained-glass windows were added over time and are some of the best examples of Australia’s glass artists, including John Lamb Lyons (Sydney), George Dancey, William Kerr-Morgan, Brooks Robinson (renowned for the strength of his workmanship) and perhaps the most important window which was the last window that William Montgomery crafted. The beautiful window at the rear of the church, “Crucifixion” was executed by Augustus Fischer of Melbourne. His windows are rare and his work was renowned for his treatment of flowers. The wall treatment and stenciling are rare and beautiful.

It is also thought that St. James Church was the first church in the southern hemisphere to have conducted an Ecumenical Service. The churchyard includes an Avenue of Honour, a row of pine trees dedicated to local men (and one woman) who served in W.W.1.

St. James’ is a family church of the Bisdees, a prominent pastoral family of the district. They took an active part in the welfare of the church and its people. John Hutton Bisdee was the first Australian-born Victoria Cross recipient, and is buried in the cemetery. Bisdee was awarded the V.C. in 1900 for bravery in the Transvaal War, following which he returned to Tasmania to the family farm, and later served in W.W.1. He passed away on his property in 1930. The two Bisdee family plots are a dominant feature of the cemetery when approaching the doors of St. James’.

After years of uncertainty over its future (its roof was damaged by a windstorm in 2002 but the Anglican Church was only prepared to pay for temporary repairs). Despite appeals, it was closed and deconsecrated in early 2008. Subsequently, however, Bishop John Harrower allowed the local community to take it over on a peppercorn rental leasehold, the community to look after and maintain it and the grounds. A local volunteer committee has been established an excellent museum of local history and a memorial to those local men who served for their Empire.

For the botanist, the cemetery is one of only two sites in Tasmania where the rare plant Leptorhynchos Elongatus or Lanky Buttons can be found. This bright yellow daisy was recorded by the botanist J. D. Hooker in the 19th century as “not uncommon”.

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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Jordan River Bridge, Pontville

This bridge is old for an Australian bridge, and although the deck is new, the massive nature of the piers, together with their fine detailing means that the bridge has retained much of its original character. It is on the old Hobart to Launceston road and there was originally a bridge across the Jordan River at Pontville dating from the 1830’s. In 1835, John Lee Archer reported that it had become necessary to strengthen it. He recommended the construction of a new pier under the central span of 60 feet.

By the 1840’s a new bridge had been erected close to the military post which had been established near the river. On October 22, 1847, W.P.Kay reported that owing to defective masonry, four piers must be rebuilt from the foundations. On September 25, 1848, Kay informed the Colonial Secretary that the Pontville New Bridge would be open to public traffic on Wednesday morning, 27th September when the work would be completed except one wing wall at the north end. The whole would be finished at the end of the month.

A drawing of this bridge dated April 1848 on which the plan elevation and section are set out to scale shows two long stone abutments curving outwards as the road approaches and four stone piers nearly six feet wide with cut waters carried up to the level of the platform. This is twenty feet above river bed and is composed of logs laid longitudinally with planks laid across them supporting a layer of earth. The five open spans vary in length from twenty feet to twenty five feet and the width of the roadway is twenty five feet. Balustrade piers in stone are carried above the cut waters supporting the ends of wooden fences and a recess is formed on the road side of each pier.

A modern concrete deck was laid on the substructure of this bridge in 1945 and while the motorist is now conscious of only the roadway and pipe railings in concrete posts, history buffs should take the time to go down the side of the bridge to the river bank to view the magnificent stone piers that date back to the 1840’s. They appear to remain in wonderful condition to this day, easily surviving the stresses of modern day cars & heavy traffic. The bridge is a tribute to the skill of the stonemasons & bridge builders of the 1840’s.

Main Text & Information Source –
Australian Heritage Database
“Early Tasmanian Bridges” – R.Smith 1969