Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Derwent Bank (Tasmanian Club)

The Derwent Bank was established as a partnership by a group of Hobart citizens, including several officials, and it opened for business in January 1828 in Davey Street, Hobart, with a staff of two, the cashier Stephen Adey and the accountant John Leake of Rosedale, Campbell Town. At first it had seven directors, but they were reduced to three, and the managing director was William Hamilton, who went to London as the bank’s representative.

He was succeeded by Charles Swanston who bought the shares, and assumed direct control of the bank. Swanston (1789-1850), a former Captain in the Indian Army also carried on business as an import and export agent in wool, tea, sugar, rum, etc. Under Swanston’s management the Derwent Bank prospered, attracting large amounts of overseas money. He was responsible for the introduction of the overdraft system into Australian banking.

In 1834 the bank became the Derwent Savings Bank. In October 1841 Swanston converted the bank into a mortgage bank, and as the depression of the 1840's deepened, the flow of overseas money decreased. Swanston managed to keep the bank going for another 5 years, but the bank went into liquidation in 1849 and John Walker, merchant and mill owner of Hobart, acted as liquidator.

The Tasmanian Club was established in 1861 in Hobart by seventy gentlemen. It was founded on the 'London pattern', that is, election or exclusion of candidates by ballot. The Club was located in leased premises at Webb's (now Hadley's) Hotel from 1861 until 1873. In April 1873 the Club moved to its present location of 132 Macquarie Street. The Club building was built in the Georgian style in 1846, originally as the Derwent Bank for Captain Charles Swanston to a design of architect James Alexander Thomson.

In 1891, following outright purchase of the land and buildings, major extensions were made to the Club building, including the main dining room and accommodation. The Tasmanian Club is regarded as the 'senior gentlemen's club' of Tasmania by its interstate and overseas counterparts. It has an upper limit to membership of 400. The building remains the home of the Tasmanian Club to this day.

Main Text & Information Sources
-         Aus Post History
-         Tasmanian Club, Hobart
-         Australian Dictionary Of Biography - Charles Swanston
-         Australian Dictionary Of Biography - Stephen Adey
-         Australian Dictionary of Biography - William Henry Hamilton