Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Kelly Steps

Leading up from Salamanca Place is a flight of steps. These are Kelly Steps, built in 1840 by the adventurer James Kelly to connect Battery Point with Salamanca Place.
Steep and constructed of sandstone, the stairs lead from Kelly Street, providing a short-cut from the pleasant colonial houses of Kelly Street and Arthur Circus in Battery Point, directly down to the warehouse and dockyards district of Salamanca Place.
These houses ranged from cottages to fine Georgian styled homes, many of which still stand today. Much of the construction was made of sandstone. Among these homes are the ones built at Arthur’s Circus. These were built for officers of the town and harbor garrison. Another area was developed along Kelly Street.

Shortly thereafter, Kelly’s steps were constructed by James Kelly to connect the upper Battery Point area to the lower Salamanca port area. During this time the gun battery still dominated the area. Both features allowed those who ran the lower port to live nicely from an area that overlooked it.

They have an inscription stone dated 1840 with the initials JK, referring to Captain James Kelly.  With Thomas Birch, James Kelly circumnavigated Tasmania (then Van Diemen’s Land) in a whale boat and discovered Port Davey and Macquarie Harbour.

Captain Kelly was a dominant figure in seafaring and port activities during the formative years of Hobart.  He made his living from whaling and sealing and in one outing was responsible for capturing five whales in the River Derwent.
Kelly’s good fortune was short-lived, however, and by 1842 he was bankrupt and destitute following the death of his wife and seven of his children. After a run-in with the law over another man’s wife, he died at age 67.

Kelly Steps now form part of the Battery Point heritage walk and still form a regular thoroughfare for the residents of Battery Point down into the Salamanca Place precinct.

Updated 24/10/2015
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