Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Warragul House

The first known building on the site was constructed in the 1850's by Joseph Miller. Miller was the owner of a large orchard on the site that was said to be stocked with over 850 of the best apple trees among over 900 fruit trees. Miller appears to have been quite the business man and he also generated income through his ownership of brickfields and by making bricks.

By the late 1870's Samuel Page had purchased Warragul House and its 5 acre estate. Page had gained his wealth by operating the horse drawn coach service that ran between Hobart & Launceston in the days before the construction of the railway. Warragul House ultimately became the home of Page's daughter, Emma, and her husband, James Laughton.

It appears that Warragul House may have remained a private residence into the middle of the twentieth century when in 1945 there was a proposal to build a first class hotel on the site which would feature accommodation for 54 guests and a large dining room to hold up to 100 guests. The proposal had the support of the incumbent Director of the Tasmanian Tourist Bureau who believed the proposal would help rectify a perceived shortage of accommodation at the time for mainland tourists wishing to visit.

However, local residents objected to the proposed development saying there were already more than enough pubs in the area to accommodate the tourists and as a consequence of the objections, the hotel development was never built.

By 1950, land from the Warragul House estate was subdivided to create more housing development and advertised for sale. Warragul House itself, still standing after all this time, was ultimately purchased by the Tasmanian Government in 1954 and is now used by the Department of Health & Human Services for its Oral Health Services headquarters.

Main Text & Information Source - 
"The Story Of New Town - Street By Street" - Donald Howatson 2011

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Del Sarte's Rooms (Concert Hall)

Among the music-loving public of Tasmania, and more especially that of Hobart Town, no name was more familiar in years gone by than that of Camille Del Sarte. Camille Del Sarte was a native of Paris, but he arrived in this colony from the island of Java around 1855. Soon after his arrival here he purchased what now forms the residence of the Venerable Archdeacon Davies, and for some years he resided there.

He had not been long in Hobart Town before his name as a practical and theoretical teacher of music became a household word in Tasmania and so rapid was his early success that in 1856 he had built for the purposes of his profession and at his own cost a substantial new venue in Harrington Street for the presentation of dramatic and musical events which was originally known as Del Sarte's Rooms. It featured a lantern type roof structure which was designed to provide natural light into the large hall below.

The rooms were the scene of the debut performance by Madame Amy Sherwin who was known as the “Tasmanian Nightingale”. Madame Sherwin was a Tasmanian soprano who went on to garner international acclaim throughout her career.

The enterprise was not, however, the success its enterprising proprietor had anticipated and eventually he was forced to part with the property. Del Sarte went on to hold the position of bandmaster in the Artillery Corps, and within two years he was entrusted with the conductorship of the Hobart Town City Band. Around  the year 1869 he left Hobart Town and took up residence in Sydney, and for a time he had an excellent practice.

He remained in Sydney about seven years, and only returned to Hobart Town around 1875. His long absence from the Tasmanian colony, however, had almost completely broken the connection which he had formerly made and although his reputation as a master in his profession was as great as ever, he was not able to regain the high position which he had occupied before he left the colony.

By around 1871, the building had been taken over by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows who inaugurated the building as a lodge and the building was subsequently known as Odd Fellows Hall. The building was later to become the headquarters of the Royal Yacht Club and in its current guise, serves as offices for a lawyers firm.

Main Text & Information Source – 
Australian Dictionary Of Biography – Amy Sherwin
Amy Sherwin Photograph - Wikipedia (Amy Sherwin)

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Industrial Water Supply, Port Arthur

Throughout its operational life, Port Arthur struggled to reach an economically sustainable level of operation. In an ideal world the product of convict labour would provide the raw and manufactured materials necessary for the ongoing maintenance of the station and its occupants. In some regards Port Arthur managed this, with its flourishing timber industry fuelling building works throughout the Peninsula.

The meat, flour and vegetables necessary for rations would also be sourced from the farms of Port Arthur and the other Peninsula stations. All outstations and probation stations had tracts of land under the plough and hoe, Saltwater River and Safety Cove Farm being some of the biggest agricultural stations opened on the Peninsula. A sheep station and slaughtering establishment in the 1840s greatly furthered output.
Yet, despite these clear aims, the main weight of rations during the 1830s and especially the 1840s, had to be shipped down from Hobart. The 1841 introduction of Probation saw the authorities face almost insurmountable problems rationing the convict population, as the population rose from close to 1500, to over 3500 by 1844. A convict population of this size required over 2.5 ton of flour a day to fulfil the bread ration alone.

The Port Arthur water-powered flour mill and granary had first been suggested in 1839, with the authorities facing the imminent introduction of probation. The suggestions of the colonial Commissariat, who governed the convict ration supply, and Port Arthur's Commandant, saw the project started in 1842 - just as the Peninsula population began to rapidly increase.

An engineer, Alexander Clark, was brought in to oversee the mill and granary construction, as well as engineer the supply of water to the wheel. It was hoped that a mill and granary sited on the peninsula would supply the wants of the Convict Department, as well as produce surplus for export. Under Clark’s direction, convict work gangs built a dam for a reservoir upstream on Settlement Creek. From here, the water ran down a stone lined millrace to a second reservoir. From this second reservoir, the engineering involved was ambitious and complex. Water had to be directed underground, down a slope, under a group of buildings and across a street to the mill.

The whole undertaking was completed by 1845 but getting the water to the 30ft (10m) water wheel was a much more complicated undertaking than anybody had envisaged. The mill and granary building itself was completed in just a year, housing not only a storehouse, wheel and machinery, but also a treadmill capable of taking up to 56 convicts at once.

However, the mill was to be a grand failure. The infrastructure bringing the water to the wheel proved to be too complicated, losing water to seepage and evaporation. The supply of water itself was completely inadequate to feed the wheel. Rainfall had proven to be more unreliable than had been initially thought and as a result, the reservoirs rarely held enough water to even turn the mill’s waterwheel, let alone supply water for other uses. A treadmill operated by up to 48 of the most troublesome convicts had to provide additional power to the mill. At full capacity, the mill could grind 300kg of flour per hour but this impressive output was rarely achieved.

In the end, the mill only operated in intermittent bursts, quickly using up any store of water accumulated in the dam. By 1848, the authorities regarded the flour mill a failure and it was closed in the early 1850’s. Only a decade after it was first built, the mill was gutted and, between 1854 and 1857, converted into the Penitentiary, which in turn became Port Arthur's most enduring landmark. However, the water system came in useful and water was conveyed into such places within the penitentiary as might be needed. Laundries, bathrooms, privies, kitchens as well as heating systems relied for many years on this water supply.

Main Text & Information Sources – The Industrial Prison
Interpretative Signs around the Site at Port Arthur

Sunday, 15 February 2015

St Paul's Uniting Church, New Norfolk

Like many Methodist church buildings, St Paul's at New Norfolk is a pretty unassuming structure. This chapel, however, holds a pre-eminent place in Tasmanian Methodist Church history as it is the oldest in the state.

It was built on land donated by a local benefactor, Sir Robert Officer of Hallgreen. The foundation stone was laid on the 8th December, 1836 and followed by the official opening and dedication on the 2nd November 1837, by the Reverend Joseph Orton. St Paul's was originally part of the Hobart circuit until 1838 when the Reverend John Manton was appointed as first resident minister of the new district circuit.

The interior of St Paul's is very plain but none the less of a very charming design. The furnishing are made of cedar and each pew has its own door. The Mission Pew, which was reserved for the minister's family, is up the front under the eyes of the pulpit. The church gallery was installed in 1865 at a cost of 128 pounds and the magnificent stained glass windows replaced the plainer original ones in 1956.

Before the chapel was built, Methodism in New Norfolk had an interesting history. As early as 1821, local preachers such as Benjamin Nokes & Samuel Dowsett were holding irregular services around the town. Later in that year, the Reverend William Norton arrived in Tasmania and began visiting the outlying settlements. The normally staid Methodists used a bit of colonial commonsense and practicality for, on wet days, they would retire to the tap room of Mrs Bridger's Bush Inn and hold their services there. Generally, however, they would worship outdoors and by 1834, services were regularly being conducted under a gum tree where the New Norfolk State Primary School stands. The tree was cut down in in 1972 but it used to have a plaque attached with the following inscription - "Under this tree, first regular Methodist service in New Norfolk was held in 1834"

Methodism as such, ended in the New Norfolk & Glenora area on 19th June 1977 and following the inauguration of the Uniting Church in Australia on 22nd June, 1977, New Norfolk's first Uniting Church service was held four days later and continues to this day.

Main Text & Information Sources - 
"From Black Snake To Bronte" - Book by Audrey Holiday & John Trigg

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Richmond Courthouse

The Richmond Courthouse is an adaption of the Regency style of architecture and features an elliptical ceiling. It was built of bricks in 1825 probably to a design by Colonial Architect, David Lambe who had been appointed in June 1824. It was constructed around the same time as the Richmond Gaol.

In December 1826, Tobias Kirkwood, who was the acting engineer, wrote to the colonial secretary stating that the inside of the new courthouse was fit for use by the public service but that there were two windows required for each side of the of the entrance door. However, the only window maker potentially available to complete the work was currently serving time in the chain gang and thus was not available until his time was up. As a substitute, Kirkwood had two plain windows made.

The courthouse was initially used, as a temporary measure, to house soldiers. However, in 1827, these soldiers were soon reported as “reveling in the court house, considered most unseemly behavior. In that year, Lieutenant Governor Arthur sent a dispatch to the Home Secretary in England reporting that the construction had been completed with the work and materials being provided by convict mechanics and laborers. By this means, the public works had been conducted without any heavy expense and without the need to increase the wages of free mechanics and thereby distressing the settlers.

By 1829, the Courts of Quarter Sessions for the Police District of Richmond were underway. By 1834, the building was also being used for church services prior to the construction of the churches in the town. In May 1834, a letter from the Police Office, Hobart recommended that the party stationed in Richmond under Overseer Thompson should be tasked with making repairs to the courthouse roof and to construct a porch on the front of the building. By July 1834, the work had not commenced due to a delay in the delivery of timber from Port Arthur which had been sent to Hobart instead of Richmond direct..

It would appear that work on St Luke’s church was stopped for the courthouse and the incomplete school building was used as a store house until the church was completed. All of this was due to the delay in the arrival of the timber and other assorted stores. Even the fencing timber provided for the courthouse was unsuitable for its intended purpose. Governor Arthur finally organized for 9000 bricks to be supplied for the final completion of the courthouse in late 1834.

When Richmond became a municipality in 1861, the court house also became the Council Chambers. The police watch house which had been constructed in 1838 next to the court house, and is now the kitchen and part of the supper room area of the building. In 1862, permission was granted to use the building for dancing classes “upon the condition that the ordinary rules of propriety and good order were to apply” It was used as Council Chambers from 1861, when the Richmond Municipality was established, until 1993, when Richmond Council amalgamated with Clarence City Council.

A small plan in the Tasmanian State Archives shows the central court room flanked by 4 rooms as it is at present but with three outside doors all facing due north and only the rear two rooms having direct access to the court room. The prisoners did not enter through the porch door.

Main Text & Information Source –
“Richmond, Tasmania – A Crossing Place” – Elizabeth Jones

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Jolly Hatters' Inn

Still standing in its original position, the Jolly Hatters' Inn is sited on the north side of Melville Street, just east of Elizabeth Street. The Inn was originally built in 1824 as a hat factory, on a block first granted to Richard Cleburn. It wasn't until 1833 that it became licensed as the Jolly Hatters' Inn. Its publican in the early period was William Champion, an advocate for the working class as well as a brewer who made beer, and ginger beer, in the brewery behind the Inn. It was William who had run the hatters business in the building, hence the first name of the Inn.

Around this time, the Inn had become the hub of working class political activity. The Inn was a house of call (or labour exchange) where employers would call of a morning to select workers from the assembled unemployed, something of an ancestral "Commonwealth Employment Scheme'. It was also the formative place of a number of unions which were set up in the 1830s and 1840s. There is historic material accounting for union meetings at the Inn to help improve working mens wages and conditions. Licencee William Champion was elected as one of their spokesmen.

The Inn was also the set-off point for the workers' brigade marching to the first big popular meeting aimed at abolishing transportation of convicts to Tasmania. This meeting, in the early 1840s was to be followed by a decade or more of campaigning which led to the end of transportation - Tasmania being the last Australian colony receiving convicts. The Inn was a centre for such agitation as 'free' workers who were competing with the cheaper convict labor.

The Jolly Hatters Inn is a two story sandstone building with a galvanized-iron pitched roof. Its northern 'wing' fronts directly on to Melville Street. The three-story brewery is of sandstone block construction. The buildings are now occupied by Tabor College Tasmania,  an educational organisation.

I haven't been able to find much more information about the Jolly Hatters' Inn so if anyone can help with anything else from its history I would really appreciate it. Please feel free to leave any info in the comments, or you can send it to me via email.

Main Text & Information Sources - 
"Pubs in Hobart from 1807" - David.J.Bryce
Australian Heritage Database