Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Wirksworth House

Wirksworth House is a late 19th century gentleman's residence which for more than the past half century has been utilized by government departments, particularly involved in education.

A wonderful looking two storey building was constructed for a gentleman by the name of Charles Edwin Featherstone in 1888. At the time, Featherstone was a well known Hobart solicitor and moved into the newly finished mansion with his wife, three daughters and a son. When Wirksworth was finished, Featherstone felt that he was in the debt of the many people who had contributed to the splendor of the building so he hired out the Bellerive Institute and gave them and their families a feast and nights entertainment. At the function, full tribute was paid to Mr R Huckson, the architect, and all the highly skilled artisans involved.

The people who visited the mansion were met at the front door which opened out into a spacious hall from which rises a magnificent wide staircase leading to seven bedrooms upstairs. two of the major ground floor rooms are separated by a door which extends almost the width of the room, taking the place of a dividing wall. When someone desired to pass from one room to another, the door is lifted and slides smoothly into a purpose built niche in the wall above. A steel wire rope with approx 180kg of iron at the end forms the counterbalance for the lifting door. This innovation is still there to this day..

Five years later in 1893 there was a report in The Mercury newspaper (Wed 22, 1893) regarding a court action being taken against the firm of Elliston & Featherstone over alleged missing monies and followed by another report three days later about the Law Society looking into the matter of C.E. Featherstone, who had been missing for a couple of weeks, being struck of the roll of the Supreme Court and that a warrant had been issued for his arrest.

Most of what went on following these report is sheer conjecture but it is believed that Featherstone was never apprehended. Later that same year, Wirksworth House was acquired by C.H.Grant, who was responsible for the construction of the Hobart - Launceston railway.

For the next 50 years, the property passed between various owners until, during World War 2, the mansion, outhouses and grounds were "surrendered to the Crown" for use by the Education Department for the purpose of physical education training and hosting school holiday camps. In 2007, Wirksworth House had been the focus of a major restoration program which restored Wirksworth back to its former splendor with funds sourced from the Governments Capital Investment program.

Wirksworth continues to perform its function for the education department and is in wonderful condition with its wonderful outbuildings and grounds.

Main Information & Text Sources -
“Mansions, Cottages and All Saints” – Book by Audrey Holiday & Walter Eastman

C.H.Grant Biography - C.H.Grant

Robert Huckson's Story - Robert Huckson