The term “coffee palace” was primarily used in Australia to describe the temperance hotels that were built in the last decades of the 19th century. Built in response to the worldwide temperance movement, which reached its pinnacle in the 1880s in Australia, coffee palaces were hotels that did not serve alcohol. Although tea has long been considered the beverage of sobriety, it was coffee that came to be regarded as the very antithesis of alcohol.
This was a unique time in Australia’s architectural development as the economic boom fueled by the gold rush in the 1850s, and the demand for ostentatious display that gathered momentum during the following years, afforded the use of richly ornamental High Victorian architecture and resulted in some very majestic structures; hence the term “palace”. Coffee palaces were much more than ordinary hotels—they were often multi-purpose or mixed-use buildings that included a large number of rooms for accommodation as well as ballrooms and other leisure facilities to attract people away from pubs. The temperance movement was concerned about the evils to society being caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
In the late 19th century in Hobart, the encouraged the opening of coffee palaces such as the Federal Coffee Palace, which was located on the corner of Murray & Despard Streets and which provided meals and accommodation in an environment that was free from the evils & temptations of alcohol.
While the temperance movement lasted well over 100 years, the life of the coffee palaces was relatively short-lived. The Federal Coffee Palace operated during the 1890's but like most of the coffee palaces across the country, it turned out to be a bit of a late Victorian fad. Hobart's Federal Coffee Palace went on to become a bakery, which it remains to this day, whereas, rather ironically, some of the other coffee palaces around Australia turned into licensed hotels.
Although the temperance movement’s attempt to provide an alternative to the ubiquitous pubs failed, coffee has now outstripped the consumption of tea and today’s café culture ensures that wherever coffee is consumed, there is the possibility of an exchange of news and dissemination of ideas and information in a sober environment.
Main Text & Information Sources -
"The Story Of Central Hobart - Street By Street" - Donald Howatson 2015
The former commissariat store is a small classically Georgian building, originally symmetrical in form and has one main room plus two skillion additions (one dating from pre-1845, the other post-1859). The main room is a large 5metre x 10 metre space and was originally divided into three spaces by lightweight partitioning. A secure store for provisions was vital for survival.
Most of the early military buildings were roughly built from logs, but the commissariat was carefully built in stone to protect the precious stores from theft. Built late in 1827, the commissariat is the oldest remaining building of the Military Precinct. The guard house that was nearby housed the corporal and three privates who guarded the chain gang, the labour force engaged in building the Military Precinct. The building was constructed to securely house the provisions for the military and convict establishment at Oatlands. It was later (c1880s) converted to a bakery. A massive baker’s oven is partially intact on the southern end of the building.
Before 1827, Oatlands was little more than a military outpost. But in March 1827, Lieutenant Governor George Arthur introduced sweeping reforms of the magistracy, dividing the island into nine police districts. Thomas Anstey was appointed Police Magistrate for Oatlands, and provided with an establishment of six constables, ten field police, and later a flagellator and chief district constable. A ‘Return of Public Buildings pressingly required’ of March 1827 lists Oatlands as needing a Jail, Court House and Military Barracks. Establishments of similar nature were listed for Hobart, Launceston, New Norfolk, and Campbelltown. Each new police district was to have a town central to that district provided with gaols, courthouses, etc. To provide the requisite buildings for the new establishment, the Royal Staff Corps under Lt Vachelle were sent to Oatlands in October 1827.
A building program of this scale depended in part on the labour of the chain gang. For this reason, the first step was to build a log gaol to accommodate them. When Vachelle was ordered to proceed to Oatlands, his instructions were to build barracks and log gaols at both Campbelltown and Oatlands, as well as a ‘Store for Lt. Vachelle’. By April 1828, the chain gang, along with the Royal Staff Corps, had the nucleus of the military precinct well underway, with houses for the gaoler, overseer, and commanding officer already finished. The soldiers’ barracks were in progress, a number of huts were in use for the families of the Royal Staff Corps, and separate houses in progress for the noncommissioned officers. Also under construction at this point (April 1828) was the Commissariat Store and Guard House.
The Commissariat was a vital element of the infrastructure needed to maintain a military and convict station at Oatlands. The stone structure was built to provide safe storage of the rations, clothing and equipment, without which the military and convict station could not function. The siting of the Commissariat and Guard House on an elevated location are probably by design, to enhance security. The early significance placed on Oatlands as being the central capital of the colony of Van Diemens Land is evident in the establishment of the military precinct – the area which accommodated the early government buildings. This region is the area traditionally bounded by High, Barrack and Church Streets and the Esplanade - which is now intersected by Campbell, Stutzer, Albert and Mason Streets.
The survey of Oatlands undertaken by James Calder in 1845 shows the development of the precinct. This shows the conversion of the first Barracks to a Probation Station (labelled Prisoner’s Barracks), as well as addition of the Gaol (1837), Watch-House (1836), Superintendents and Roads Offices and Second Barracks (c1835) and a dozen ancillary buildings associated with the Barracks precinct and Officer’s quarters (notable omission of the guard house). Despite being the major military centre of the interior through the 1830s and 1840s, the troop strength at Oatlands gradually declined, from 46 in 1844 to just 13 in 1852.
With the cessation of transportation to Van Diemen’s Land, the convict system was in decline, with the result being that government establishments such as the military precinct at Oatlands were no longer essential. By the end of 1856, the dwindling forces in Van Diemen’s Land meant that to maintain forces at Hobart, Launceston and Tasman’s Peninsula, the Oatlands troops would have to be removed. Approval for this was given on the 12th December, 1856, thereby leaving most of the military precinct, including the Guard House and Commissariat Store, surplus to requirement.
In September 1859, Surveyor William Hogan was commissioned to survey the precinct, with the intention of dividing it into lots for sale by public auction. Hogan’s field diary describes the Commissariat as being in good condition and valued it at ₤30. The Guard House is described as being in ‘indifferent’ condition and valued at ₤40. The Commissariat and Guard House were purchased from the Crown by Edward Francis Saunderson, an ex-convict, now storekeeper. Saunderson died in June 1862, leaving the property to his daughter, Mrs. Mary Ann Fish. The Fish family built a small cottage at the front of the allotment sometime in the 1860s-1870s, which was extended with a shopfront by 1885. By the same time, a substantial bread oven had been built attached to the former commissariat, which was then used as a bakery.
The Fish family owned the property until the 1940s when it was sold to the Barwick Family. Various members of the extended Barwick family owned the property until 2003, when it was sold to Rose Glavin, then purchased by Southern Midlands Council in 2012. The guard house was demolished in 1975, at the same time an extension was built at the rear of the cottage. As at 2015, all the buildings on the site are in a derelict condition and are uninhabited. Southern Midlands Council has committed to the restoration of the building – as resources allow
Woodbridge was built by the first Chief Constable, Thomas Roadknight in 1825 at a cost of over 1000 pounds. The Roadknights had numerous interests in the valley, including the property Ivanhoe, and the bakery in Bothwell. Thomas Roadknight was later jailed for shooting a servant, and sent to Sarah Island. On his return in 1831, he sold Woodbridge to George Lindley and it functioned as an academy for young gentlemen, known as Richmond Hill Academy.
Woodbridge was again offered for sale in 1833 and was purchased one year later by the Assistant Surveyor General, William Stanley Sharland, for 750 pounds. The Sharland family had been amongst the first arrivals to Van Diemen’s Land and William Stanley married another first settler, Miss Sarah Schaw and they had a large family of four sons and seven daughters, all of whom grew up at Woodbridge. While Sharland lived at Woodbridge he took a keen interest in all colonial affairs as well as carrying on agricultural and pastoral farming in the Derwent Valley, and in 1857, at the age of 56 years, he was elected MLC for the County of Cumberland and later represented New Norfolk in the House of Assembly.
Upon his death in 1877, Woodbridge passed to his eldest son, William Cockburn Sharland, who like his father, devoted himself to the development of his Derwent Valley properties. Clara and William Cockburn Sharland had five daughters and one son and in 1905 when it was decided that they should be educated abroad, Woodbridge was again sold. Thereafter Woodbridge passed from one owner to the other, falling gradually into disrepair. In the 1970’s Woodbridge’s glorious out buildings and Dutch barn, collectively know as Alloway Banks, were demolished to make way for the roundabout of the new bridge. By 2003, Woodbridge was once again dilapidated and decaying.
In 2003, Laurelle and John Grimley first saw Woodbridge, sad, forlorn, derelict and overgrown, when they came to Tasmania on holidays, and they were indignant that ‘the government’ and ‘heritage’ could allow such a wonderful, historic house to get into such a state. Then in 2004 they happened to be in Tasmania again and found that Woodbridge was up for sale. There had apparently been a lot of interest in it but no one had been willing to take on the mammoth task.
The Grimleys were semi-retired, experienced in property development and had rejuvenated old buildings, but they had never tackled a project as complex as this. However they recognized that they brought together three crucial elements – they had the time, they had the expertise and they had the finances… it was a matter of ‘put your money where your mouth is’! As Laurelle explains it, when would they ever get another opportunity to do something like this?
They consulted a German engineer who had experience with European castles, who agreed that ‘the bones were sound’ and that Woodbridge could be saved, and thus began a two year project under John’s direction, which won the 2005 Tasmanian and later the 2006 Australian HIA Renovation of the Year Awards.
But restoring the building was just the first stage of the project. If Woodbridge was going to survive, it had to be able to pay its way. The Grimleys pondered the options, and agreed that Woodbridge would make a delightful boutique hotel, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Grimley’s one regret is that they had not owned Woodbridge earlier to fight the government’s decision to demolish the out-buildings for the roundabout.
All old churches have their stories but at All Saints, they are plentiful. How about a church whose construction contract included the requirement for daily prayers being written into it? They were for this church. Every morning from the commencement of construction in December 1858, The Rev Mr Gellibrand would lead the workmen in prayer for his new house of prayer.
Today it stands as one of Hobart’s most beautiful and architecturally significant churches. It is not likely that the 26 year old architect who designed this fine building would have been against the idea of morning prayers on site. He was an ardent catholic and would go on to be the choirmaster for St Joseph’s church further down Macquarie Street. The architect of this structure was Henry Hunter, who would go on to leave his mark on Hobart through many fine buildings, including the Hobart Town Hall.
All Saints was Hunter’s first commission and would set him on his path to becoming a dominant figure in Tasmanian architecture during the 2nd half of the nineteenth century. The architectural style of All Saints is classified as 13th century Gothic, from a period of church construction that was marked by its simplicity of lines.
The foundation stone was laid on 2nd December 1858 in the presence of the Governor and the Bishop of the diocese and the building was opened for worship on 18th August the following year. At that time, the church consisted of the Nave, Chancel and Sanctuary that still exist today. The side aisle and chapel were added by Hunter in 1863 and the two vestries were added in 1895.
The stained glass windows of All Saints are wonderful examples of 19th century art. Some originated from Percy Bacon Bros in England and some produced by Ferguson & Urie, a Victorian company that had been set up by English immigrants. The many memorials on the walls of the church are reflective of the congregation and the esteem many of them were held by the parishioners.
The chapel that was added in 1863 by Hunter, and has gone on to be known as the Lady Chapel owes much of its beauty to the excellent quality of the woodcarving. Much of this beautiful work was created by Nellie Payne whose work adorns many Tasmanian churches. Nellie was born in 1865 but was so frail as a child that she was taken away from her Hobart school at the age of 16. When she died aged 98, Nellie Payne was still wielding a mallet & chisel.
The octagonal steeple, set in an interesting position on the church building is 65 ft high. The bell was originally donated to the church by the first Rector, The Rev Joseph Tice Gellibrand. On Feb 8th 1971, the steeple was struck by lightning and considerable damage was caused. The roof, in particular, suffered when stones from the steeple were dislodged, damaging the roof as they fell.
The beautiful church organ was originally built by the London firm of Bishop & Starr and was installed in 1862. The following year it was enlarged and had the first of many moves to what is now the Lady Chapel. It was rebuilt and enlarged further, with the action changed from tracker to pneumatic by George Fincham & Sons of Melbourne in 1920. Davis & Laurie of Launceston rebuilt it again in 1963, adding new work and changing the action to electro – pneumatic. It was moved to its present position with a new casing and a detached keyboard console by the Hobart Firm of Long, Langlois & Johnstone in 1974.
The Sunday School Hall, also designed by Henry Hunter, was built in 1877 and was a generous gift to the church by benefactor, Alfred Kennelly who had also financed the construction of Hunter’s side aisle in 1863.
The All Saints Church is still very much a vibrant part of the local community and continues to serve the needs of the Anglican congregation. It is ideally located and highly visible at the intersection of Macquarie Street and the Southern Outlet.
In 2009 the parish celebrated the church’s Sesqui-centenary of the laying of the foundation stone. One major event was the launching of an appeal to raise some $980,000 to restore the fabric of the building. To date the appeal has raised some $230,000, $80,000 of which is a grant from the Federal Government to be specifically applied to the restoration of the windows.
During Spring 2012 South Hobart was buffeted by strong gales. Unfortunately, it was discovered that the nave roof of the church (which was hitherto thought to be in sound condition) has been weakened by them significantly and moved. Much of the damage is recent however, a proportion can be attributed to the roof not being tied down to the nave walls and lightness of construction.
This is typical of roofs’ of the Victorian period which were designed to English standards and found to be not robust enough for the Tasmanian environment. The Church is subject to some extreme weather conditions which funnel along the Hobart Rivulet Valley and the west wall and nave roof have borne the brunt of the battering. Future work will focus on the steeple which was struck by lightning some fifty years ago and the restoration of the porch. Attention will then turn to the interior.
A magnificent building that really deserves the attention it is receiving in order to preserve the structure for many years to come.
Main Text & Information Sources –
“All Saints South Hobart – A Brief Guide” – brochure produced by All Saints Church
“Mansions, Cottages and All Saints” – Book by Audrey Holiday & Walter Eastman