Sunday, 20 April 2014

Friends Park, West Hobart

Friends Park is a small park in West Hobart that started life as a burial ground for the Society of Friends (Quakers). The land had orginally been granted to William Shoobridge in the early 1820's and he had set up a farming enterprise. Although Shoobridge was a practicing Methodist, he found himself supporting the work of a number of Quaker missionaries who had visited Van Diemens Land in the early 1830's. As a show of his support, he agreed to give the Society of Friends a half acre portion of his farm land in order for the Society to establish a burial grounds for themselves. As it turned out, following the establishment of the burial ground, Shoobridge himself became the first person to be buried there after he passed away in 1836.

The burial ground continued to provide for the Quakers into the 1900's. Even after the Cornellian Bay cemetery was opened in 1872 and many of Hobart's numerous suburban burial grounds were closed, the Society of Friends burial ground was able to continue operating because it fell outside the Hobart municipal boundary. Following the rezoning of the region into the new Greater Hobart municipality, the burial ground was finally closed in 1908.

It just remained as an unused burial ground until 1937 when the Hobart City Council negotiated with the Friends Society for the transfer of the land to the council so that it could be converted to a community  recreation space for the growing West Hobart community.

Under the terms of the transfer agreement, the park was to be renamed Friends Park and the headstones were to be repositioned and re-erected around the walls of the new park. This was subsequently completed and the newly named Friends Park has continued to provide the local community with a beautiful recreational space. One with a very interesting past.

Information source - "The Story Of West Hobart - Street By Street" - Donald Howatson 2014.