Saturday, 28 October 2017

Oatlands Town Hall

It was at a meeting of the council on the 1st September 1877 that a decision was taken to apply for the site on which the gaol yards and cells at Oatlands were standing for the purpose of erecting a new Oatlands Town Hall. It was decided that should the application be successful, a special meeting of council would be called. However, the first choice site was not available and at the following October meeting of council, Coucillor R.D.Lord and the Council Warden J.R.Roe were empowered to find a suitable site on which to build the new Town Hall. It was these two gentlemen that ultimately chose the site on which the building stands today.

The issue of the Town Hall does not appear in the council minutes again until February 1878 when it was decided that the amount to be raised for the purchase of the land and the construction of the building would 1800 pounds. At the following meeting in April, the Warden was empowered to communicate with William Henry Lord, Architect, with a view to drawing up plans for the proposed building.

By the 1st May 1880, things were starting to take shape on paper as the council were officially shown the plans by the architect. The council were evidently impressed and no major alterations were requested. The final plans were then readied and presented again to council on 5th June 1880, with final specifications readied by the following Tuesday at which time the architect placed the advertisement for tenders. This was duly done in “The Mercury” of 23rd June 1880.

6 tenders were eventually received but all were considered to be too high and it was decided to ask the architect to redraw the plans and that a special meeting of council would consider fresh tenders in accordance with the altered plans. Three fresh tenders were received but still the council was not satisfied with the tenders. The council had raised 1800 pounds to buy the land and build their Town Hall, had paid somewhere in the vicinity of 600 pounds for the land and so the Town Hall had to be built for 1200 pounds and the tenders had been significantly higher.

There appears to have been a fair bit of discussion back and forth between the council, the architect and the tenderers regarding the costs and further alterations. During this process, a Mr W. Duncan appeared as the front runner to have his tender accepted and on 20th July the Warden met with the architect and if the architect approved of suggested alterations, the council would accept Duncan’s tender. 

The architect then sat down and prepared altered plans that were presented to council and on 18th September 1880, a letter was received from the architect advising the council to accept Duncan’s tender. Now, after 3 years and 1 month after a new Town Hall was first mooted, the council started the ball rolling and the contract with Duncan for the erection of the Town Hall was signed on 2nd October 1880.

In his contract, Duncan stated that he would complete the construction of the building within 9 months and so on 9th June 1881, he wrote to the Council Clerk applying for the balance of the money owing him on the completion of the building. Finally after some defects had been rectified by the contractor, the brand new Oatlands Town Hall was officially opened at 12 noon on Saturday 17th September 1881. It continues to serve its community to this day.

Main Text & Information Source –

“A History Of Oatlands” – J.S.Weeding

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

St Andrews Uniting Church, Evandale

Built 1839 – 40, largely through the efforts of the Rev Robert Russell, this church is one of the most important colonial buildings in Tasmania in that it has retained its quality without significant change to its external appearance or its outstanding interior. The Rev Russell was the first Presbyterian minister in Evandale having arrived in the district in 1838. 

The congregation raised 400 pounds towards the cost of the construction and the government of the day contributed 600 pounds. The final cost of construction was approx 1500 pounds and no one knows where the extra money came from. Russell is said to have supervised the construction himself, having sought a design from within the colony. No architect has ever been identified and the finished structure no other building in the Australian colonies. The form of the building echoes that of a Roman temple but with a steeper roof and the addition of a bell turret. The style of the building is classified as a Greek Revival.

The main structure is of bricks that had been made locally to line the tunnel that was intended to carry water from the South Esk River below the town to an aquaduct that would carry the water to Launceston. After a number of accidents among the convicts employed in the tunnel construction, the project was abandoned. The brickwork, now painted, is exposed on the back and side walls but stuccoed on the front and the turret. 

The pair of Tuscan columns flanking the front entrance were quarried at the property of colonial artist, John Glover, and carted to the church site by bullock wagon. On the triangular pediment above the front door is a large moulded roundel that may have been intended to house a clock face.

The interior is superbly appointed with box pews, gallery balustrade and a high “witness box” pulpit made of beautiful New South Wales cedar brought from the Hawkesbury area. The walls are plastered, the ceiling timbered and the gallery supported by iron columns. A large chandelier seems almost to fill the space within the curve of the gallery. It is probably of 18th century date and is said to have been salvaged from a church in Edinburgh that had been damaged by fire. The pulpit is one of the few of its type remaining in Australia

It has an octagonal canopy with a curved roof rising to a peak on which is perched a gilded dove and is entered through a door at the back. It dates from a time when a Presbyterian minister about to preach a sermon was ushered into the pulpit by an elder, and locked in until the congregation was ‘satisfied’, that is to say until there were no questions or criticisms on matter of doctrine that had not been answered.

The first service was held in the new church on 5th September 1840 under the auspices of the Rev Russell. He would go one to minister at St Andrews for almost 40 years. As the congregation grew, the original church was found to be too small to accommodate everyone and so a balcony with extra seating was added at a later date.

Many of the pioneering families of Evandale and the surrounding district were buried in the churchyard, including the church founder, Rev Robert Russell, whose grave is marked with a statue of “Hope” atop grey and red granite pillars and is in a prominent position in front of the church he brought to fruition through his vision and hard work.

St Andrews is a fine example of Greek Revival architecture and is acclaimed as one of the best preserved places of worship in Tasmania and is today, one of the most photographed buildings in Evandale.

Main Text & Information Sources –
Evandale Heritage Walk brochure – The Evandale Community Centre
Interpretive Signs at the Site

Internal Photos –

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Dunalley Hotel

The story of the Dunalley Hotel is forever linked to two pioneer families who basically owned the establishment for over 80 years over several generations.

John Clark appears to have arrived in Van Diemens Land around 1831 after being convicted for a minor affray charge in Suffolk, England, He received a pardon shortly after his arrival in the colony and took up farming in the Bream Creek area.

George Scrimger, a native of Inverness, arrived in the area around 1855 and gained employment with John Clark as a farm labourer. George would go on to marry John Clark’s daughter, Jane. John Clark appears to have been a shrewd businessman and in 1857, he purchased 30 acres of land through which the future Denison Canal would eventually be constructed. 

In 1862, his son on law, George Scrimger was granted a liquor license for the property. In those days, with little heed being paid to health or building concerns, George was probably running his business from a small hut. John Clark undoubtedly saw the commercial possibilities of George’s license and by 1866, he had invested in the venture and had constructed a single storey hotel made from local bricks on its present site.

The family owned and operated the hotel through to September 1891 when the building was destroyed by fire after strong winds blew sparks under the roofing iron and shingles under the roofing iron caught alight, razing the building. The noted Hobart architect, Robert Huckson, was commissioned to design a replacement hotel, which was ultimately built on the original foundations, utilizing the original old cellar. Builder Alfred Dorman was employed to build the new hotel and it was much larger than the original featuring 14 rooms across two storeys.

At the time, a mysterious mortgage seemed to hang over the establishment and consequently, the hotel was auctioned at the end of 1892 when it became the property of a Queensland investor, James Robertson. Strangely, the builder of the new building, Alfred Dorman, became the new licensee. 

It was to be a quarter of a century before the hotel would return to the control of the Clark/ Scrimger family when in 1918/19, two of George Scrimger’s daughters, Edith & Eva made a financial arrangement to purchase the hotel from the Drake Estate. They would continue to operate the hotel for the next 28 years.  

Their nephew, Roy would eventually inherit the pub from his aunts in 1946. Roy would go on to lease out the pub to various licensees until 1969 when the pub was sold to the Cameron family. The pub was rebuilt to its present state during the late 1980’s/early 1990’s.

The pub continues to operate to this day and is well known for its fine food and character. It’s well worth a visit to Dunalley for a meal & refreshing beverage at the Dunalley Hotel!!!!!

Main Text & Information Source –
“Dunalley Hotel, 1866..and the Township of 1857” – Walter B Pridmore

(Available to purchase from the hotel)

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Sandy Bay Road Mile Marker

Much of the land around Sandy Bay was granted to settlers who had come from Norfolk Island in 1808. Many of the grants ranged from between 20 & 100 acres and most of them were fronting onto the Derwent River. The Government reserved the right to create roads across any of the land grants and as a consequence, a route was developed that enabled the Sandy Bay settlers to transport their goods and produce to Hobart. However, the track was just that, a track, and in inclement weather the track could become virtually impassable.

It took the Colonial authorities until 1835, after repeated petitions from the settlers, to begin to construct a proper road. A gang of convicts known as the Sandy Bay road party was assigned to perform the task. The convicts laboured for many years to construct the road and ended up continuing the road all the way through to Brown's River (Today's Kingston)

This old sanstone mile marker still survives on Sandy Bay Road and dates back to this period. It can be found on the western side of Sandy Bay Road to the south of Lambert Avenue. the inscription can still be seen on the marker and states that it is two miles to Hobart (approximately the spot where Elizabeth Street crosses over the Hobart Rivulet) from the Sandy Bay location.

An interesting sideline to the story of the construction of the road was that about 80 convicts who had been sent from Canada for participating in a rebellion against the authorities of the British colony of Upper Canada (today's Ontario) were assigned to work on the road construction in 1840. Many of them were ultimately pardoned in the late 1840's and the vast majority of them returned to North America.

A very interesting small piece of early colonial history.

Main Text & Information Source - 
"The Story Of Sandy Bay - Street By Street" - Donald Howatson 2016

Friday, 7 July 2017

Elizabeth St Townhouse, North Hobart

This imposing building is a pair of Georgian style townhouses that feature three floors and an attic area. They form a really interesting part of the Elizabeth Street streetscape in North Hobart.

The townhouses were built by Joseph Moir in the late 1840’s and he rented them out. Moir worked in the building trade for many years before he opened an ironmongery business in Murray Street. Moir was a thoroughly enterprising man and he would go on the build the iconic Shot Tower at Taroona in 1870 and began his latest career producing lead shot.

Moir passed away in 1874 and the two townhouses were sold to George Salier who happened to live next door to the townhouses in today’s 249 Elizabeth Street. Salier was a merchant and actually represented North Hobart in the House of Assembly between 1866 and 1886.

The building appears in wonderful condition and is still currently in use as office space.

Main Text & Information Source – 
“The Story Of North Hobart – Street By Street” – Donald Howatson 2013