Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Commanding Officer's Quarters, Oatlands

This building demonstrates the government’s commitment to substantial & permanent housing for the military. The oldest part of the building was constructed by soldiers of the Royal Staff Corps in 1828 and was initially occupied by Lt. Michael Vicary and his wife Eliza in December 1828. Originally commenced as 2 large rooms (parlour & bedroom), which remain as part of the present home and a separate kitchen & pantry.

By 1836 the site included convict built sandstone servants quarters and stables. All external & internal walls of the house are half a metre thick sandstone. Described at the time as being “furnished in a superior style, the house possessed one of the finest cedar mantelpieces in Tasmania. The stables were located behind the house, with a plot of land set aside for the officer’s garden.

One of the best known officers to serve in Oatlands was Major Sholto Douglas who was sent to Oatlands in 1830. Douglas was appointed by Governor Arthur due to the great alarm in the district caused by hostilities between the local Aborigines and settlers. Douglas commanded the troops during the operations known as the Black Line, designed to drive the aboriginal population away from the settled districts and onto the Tasman Peninsula. Other commandants included 1829 – Lt Erskine, 63rd Regiment, 1835 – Capt. Mackay, 21st Fusiliers, 1836 – Capt Peddie, 1839 – Lt. Dickson, 51st Regiment, 1842 – Lt. Crookshank, 1842 – Lt. Doveton & 1843 – Capt. Bush.

Following the departure in 1851 of the last commandant, the building used as a school until the probation station was converted into a school in 1854. The house passed into private hands in 1863 to a Mr John Newby.  Another owner was a Mr Turner whose brother is listed as a WW1 casualty on the cenotaph. By 1948 the house had become a home & shoe business for the Mancey family. The house remains as a private residence to this day and appears in wonderful condition.

Main Text & Information Sources
Interpretive plaque at the site
Southern Midlands Council “Military Precinct” interpretive brochure