Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Tooth's Brewery

A simple stone industrial building in Battery Point marks the original brewery for Edwin Tooth during the years 1847-1851. The tall brick chimney is a well known local landmark. Its conversion to a hat factory and more recently to offices allows this fine, now scarce example of a Colonial Brewery to continue a viable existence. John Tooth, a merchant and brewer, emigrated from Kent, England to Sydney in 1828 and established the Kent Brewery there in 1835.  John’s nephews, Robert and Edwin Tooth, leased the brewery from their uncle in 1843.  Edwin subsequently moved to Van Diemen’s Land, residing at Bagdad.

Edwin Tooth purchased a block of land on the northern side of Hampden Road and invited tenders for the erection of a malt-house in September 1847.  A malt-house is a building where cereal grain is converted into malt by soaking it in water, allowing it to sprout and then drying it to stop further growth.  Tooth’s malting establishment included a granary, steep and kiln and was reported to have been ‘built without regard to cost of sold masonry, and completed in the most perfect manner.’

Tooth offered the malt-house for sale in March 1854 but it didn’t attract a buyer.  He re-advertised the following year, pointing out that the property was well-adapted ‘for a Steam Flour Mill, Brewery, or any manufactory requiring space.’  The malt-house wasn’t sold until August 1863 when Robert Walker purchased the property for ₤1,400.  Walker was the owner of Walker’s Brewery on the corner of Collins and Barrack Streets.

In 1874 Walker leased the malt-house to Joseph Bidencope and he converted it into a hat factory.  Bidencope had been exporting hats to the Australian mainland for some time and had decided to expand his operations.  He installed steam-powered machinery which allowed the production of thirty dozen hats per day.  The hat factory operation only lasted about five years before the building reverted back to a malt-house.

The land on the north-east corner of the malt-house was acquired by the Hobart City Council to allow construction of the Harrington Street Deviation (today’s Sandy Bay Road) in 1886/87.  The road and retaining wall have a slight kink in their alignment that was necessary in order to avoid the tall brick chimney stack at the rear of the malt-house.

James Boag, the Launceston based brewer, owned the malt-house for a period in the early 1900s.
The double-storey stone building has now been converted into offices but its brick chimney recalls its industrial past.

Information Source: Australian Heritage Database

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Paradise Probation Station

100th Post!!

The convict system was a major feature in the history of Tasmania. The Probation system was the last major phase of the convict system in Tasmania, and was restricted to that island from 1841-53. At least 85 probation stations were established between 1841 and 1853, when transportation to Van Diemen's Land ceased. The Paradise Probation Station was one of the probation stations established in this time. The site is important as a relatively intact archaeological site providing evidence of probation station design. The site appears to be one of the most intact of surviving probation station sites. The Paradise Probation Station site is approximately 2 km along the convict built road which begins just north of the bridge across the Prosser River at Orford. The site is situated on a rise in open woodland encountered immediately after crossing Station Creek. 

The Paradise Probation Station operated between approx 1845 and 1847. After the Prosser's Plains (Buckland) Probation Station was closed in 1844, they dismantled the buildings and took them to Paradise. Convicts at both stations worked in gangs building the road between the two towns.

The site comprises an area approximately 100 x 300 m, the main concentration of structures being located on a relatively level area approximately 100 x 150 m between 15 and 20 m above the Prosser River. The site is characterized by numerous rubble structures, none of which survive to their original height, consisting mainly of stone platforms, brick scatters and associated stone mounds identified as remnant chimney butts and fireplaces. A distinctive gravel feature is evident within the main part of the site possibly indicative of a former yard area.

Several pathways diverge from the main area leading to a structure tentatively identified as a privy and to a jetty, a remnant stone structure which protrudes a short distance into the Prosser River, now only visible at low tide.

The remains of twelve cells shown on the original plan are identifiable, surviving to a height of 1.5 m in some places, and exhibiting a system of alternate access designed to minimize communication between prisoners.
A date for the closure of the station is not definitively known. Certainly it was some time before 1855, based on a private application to lease the land attached to the station. This request was rejected on the grounds that the buildings may have been required for police purposes. In 1856 part of the station was destroyed by fire and in 1870 the land was purchased from the Crown for farming purposes.

The probation system was a response to the dissatisfaction with the assignment system, whereby convicts were released for service with free settlers. The assignment system was phased out in Van Diemen's Land between 1838 and 1843, being replaced by a new system founded on principles of uniformity of treatment.
Convicts were removed from assigned service and placed in one of the many probation stations established around the colony. The basis for the new system was the introduction of an initial fixed period of labour in gangs, followed by a staged progression of less severe punishment, finalizing in conditional release. Assignment was replaced by a system of probation passes, which enabled a convict, following the probation period, to be hired out to settlers on short term contracts, until they earned a ticket-of-leave. The Probation Stations were the centres for administering and housing the work gangs.

From 1841 Governor Franklin set out new regulations for the probation system, drafted by Matthew Forster, the Director of the Probation System. The prisoners at probation stations, consisting of 250 to 300 men at each, were to be divided into 3 classes: the 3rd Class to be subjected to separate confinement (that is, housed individually when not at work); the 2nd Class to be hutted in rooms of 10 men; and the 1st Class, composed of those men approaching the end of their probation period, to be housed in huts containing 20 men. The different classes were never to be mixed together either at labour or in housing. However, the combination of poor local administration, inadequate funding, and poor communication between the colonies and the Colonial and Home Offices, meant that the probation system was never fully implemented, and was not effective. The increased rate of transportation to Tasmania did not help. Because of the circumstances surrounding the administration of the system, the construction of probation stations seldom adhered to the original plans.

The Paradise Probation Station site has been visited over a long period of time which has resulted in vandalism contributing to the collapse of the remains and the removal of almost all of the bricks bearing the broad arrow mark. However, as an archaeological site, the site appears to be one of the most intact of surviving probation station sites. It is well worth taking the walk along the Old Convict Road to check out the site.

Information Source: Australian Heritage Database

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The Towers, New Town

I haven’t been able to find too much information regarding this unique building originally constructed as an out-of-town residence with a major Irish influenced tower. This building forms a unique construction with Colonial, Irish and American design influences blended in a skilful design by James Blackburn and was erected in approx 1845 for William Rout. William Rout had purchased the property on the corner of the Main Road from Hobart Town to Launceston (today's New Town Road) and the roadway that is today's Tower Road in May 1845. The Towers became Rout's main place of residence and he lived there until his death in December 1868.

Rout's obituary described him as 'a most active and useful colonist'. Rout ran a successful ironmongery business on the corner of Elizabeth and Bathurst Streets in Hobart, and was also a director of the Bank of Van Diemen's Land and the Tasmanian Steam Navigation Company.  Rout took an active interest in public affairs and was a founding member of the Australasian League which campaigned for an end to transportation.  Rout was also heavily involved in organizing Hobart's Ragged Schools which provided basic education for neglected children and helped keep them off the streets.

In his will, Rout left The Towers and other properties to his youngest son, Charles Beecher Rout, and his widow, Sarah.  Sarah Rout lived at The Towers until about 1885 when she moved to 'Brookside', adjacent to the New Town Rivulet.  The Towers was then rented out, initially as one property, and then from about 1900 as two separate properties - The Towers and Tower Cottage.

The Rout family sold the property (The Towers and Tower Cottage) in October 1914 and it had a series of owners during the next few years before John Basstian sold The Towers to Robert Burns and Tower Cottage to Harriett Drummond.
The Burns family were long-term owners of The Towers and after World War II they converted it into two flats.  Information that I have been able to find indicates that the building was recently occupied (as of 2009) by a community service organization and in the not to distant past, the property was up for sale.

If anyone has any more information regarding the history of this unique building, please leave comments as it’s a very interesting design for the time it was constructed and I for one would be very interested in finding out more about it.

Information Source: Australian Heritage Database

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Derwent Park Homestead

The original Derwent Park homestead was built by Thomas Wells in the early 1820s. A single storey stone and stucco Colonial Georgian house built on a fine site commanding extensive views of the Derwent River. It was the home of Mr Joseph Tice Gellibrand who was the colony's first Attorney General. The house is complemented by two fine stone barns. The current Derwent Park homestead was built in the mid-1860s, to replace the original building that had been destroyed by fire.

Thomas Wells had been convicted of embezzlement in England in April 1816 and was sentenced to transportation for fourteen years.  Educated people were in great demand in the early colonial administration and Wells served as Sorell's clerk throughout his governorship.  Wells is best known as the author of a pamphlet 'Michael Howe, the Last and Worst of the Bushrangers' which was published in 1818 and was the first work of general literature published in Van Diemen's Land.

Wells advertised the lease of Derwent Park in the Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen's Land Advertiser in June 1823.  The advert described it as a 'most beautiful picturesque and highly improved farm' on the edge of the River Derwent and stated that the 'farmstead is a neatly finished residence.'  The notice also explained that there was a reserved road linking with the centre of New Town which gave the property 'the advantage of communication by land with Hobart within an hour.'

Joseph Tice Gellibrand acquired Derwent Park in the mid-1820s.  Gellibrand was a lawyer in England prior to being appointed attorney-general of Van Diemen's Land. Gellibrand arrived in Hobart in March 1824 but he did not get on with Lieutenant-Governor Arthur.  Gellibrand was suspended by Arthur in February 1826 for 'conduct not befitting his high office'.  In 1835 Gellibrand helped form the Port Phillip Association which supported John Batman's expedition to establish grazing properties in today's Victoria.  Gellibrand prepared legal deeds for the transfer of the land from the aborigines, while the finance was arranged by Charles Swanston.  Swanston was one of Gellibrand's neighbours, living about 2 kilometres away at New Town Park (now known as Swanston House).  Gellibrand disappeared on an expedition to explore the hinterland of Port Phillip in 1837.

Derwent Park was purchased by John Dobson in August 1840 and he rented it out for a number of years before advertising it for sale in The Courier newspaper in March 1848. The advert described the 'delightful estate of Derwent Park' and 'the Mansion, erected on a scale adapted for the residence of a family of the highest respectability, commands, without exception, the finest prospect in this hemisphere.'
Derwent Park was purchased by John Curwen Walker for ₤1,345.  Walker was the accountant at the Derwent Bank and had been renting Derwent Park before it was put up for sale.

The fire that destroyed the original Derwent Park homestead was reported in The Mercury newspaper in December 1864.  The article stated that the 'valuable house containing 12 rooms known as Derwent Park was burnt to the ground … The origin of the fire is unknown, it seemed to have commenced in the back part of the premises, which being of wood were speedily destroyed.'  A new homestead was subsequently built, but in the architectural style of an earlier period.

Derwent Park was purchased by Henry Hopkins junior for ₤2,250 in 1866 and he leased out the property. Hopkins died in June 1875 and Derwent Park was bequeathed to Thomas William Massey and his wife Emma.  Charles Raymond Staples purchased Derwent Park from the Masseys for ₤5,500 in July 1888.
Henry Benjafield purchased Derwent Park for ₤4,600 in November 1891 and almost immediately sold it to the Tasmanian Government for ₤5,200.  This caused some controversy in Parliament when it was suggested that Benjafield had been secretly acting on the Government's behalf but there was no evidence to support this and it was generally accepted that the Government had got the property at a good price.

The Government had acquired the property as the site for a proposed new gaol but this did not eventuate.  Derwent Park was used as a Government Farm and the homestead was occupied by the ploughman in charge of cultivating the farm.

The Hobart City Council acquired 22 acres from the Government and constructed a large abattoir which opened in February 1908.  The Electrolytic Zinc Company was established on the waterfront in 1916 and has gradually expanded over the intervening years to occupy most of the site. They currently own the building and it is operated by organizations that use the building to hold art classes for people with disabilities.

Information Source: Australian Heritage Database

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Pitt Farm

Pitt Farm is a brick Colonial Georgian farmhouse built about 1810 which still survives intact in the Hobart suburb of New Town. The building occupies an historic site adjacent to a river and rich alluvial flats. Richard Pitt (1765-1826) emigrated to Australia as a free settler with Lieutenant-Governor David Collins' expedition which arrived at the Derwent in February 1804. The authorities considered it desirable to separate the free settlers from the convicts and so they were granted land 4 kilometres north of Hobart Town on the fertile land adjoining the New Town Rivulet.

Pitt was formally granted 100 acres on the northern side of the rivulet by the Governor of New South Wales, Philip Gidley King, on 18 December 1805 where he subsequently constructed this brick colonial Georgian farmhouse circa 1810. Although a relatively modest home, Pitt Farm was built in a style that emulated the grander houses of the period with two storeys, a wide verandah, 10 main rooms and a cellar (which is where Mr Pitt’s convict servant, McShane, is believed to have resided during his tenure at Pitt Farm.

Pitt was one of the few early settlers to have any prior knowledge of farming and was the most successful. There is some uncertainty regarding the precise year in which Pitt Farm was built but it was probably around 1810. Following Pitt's death in 1826, the property passed to his son, Francis, who rented it out to various tenants.

In 1885 the 100 acres were being leased to Dr Harry Benjafield, owner of the nearby Albert Park property and its homestead, Dorset House. Benjafield developed orchards in the area and is a major figure in the history of Tasmania's fruit industry. John Forster (1841-1908) rented Pitt Farm and its 100 acres from at least as early as 1899, and in 1906 he purchased Pitt Farm and the 5 acres between today's Albert Road and the rivulet for 750 pounds. Forster’s daughter, Edith, married James Ernest Phythian in 1910 and he became the owner. By 1930, Phythian was renting out half of the property (2.5 acres) to Chinese market gardeners.

During the 1960s and 70s the property was subdivided and a number of industrial buildings were constructed along the Albert Road frontage. In the 1980s Pitt Farm was occupied by Frank Phythian who had lived there since his birth in 1911 and had raised four children there.

Pitt Farm was nearly destroyed by fire in April 2007. The structure of the house and rear roof were largely unaffected, and the building was salvageable. The fire and subsequent restoration have revealed many previously hidden features of the house. The current owners have gone to great pains to ensure that Pitt Farm is sympathetically restored.

Pitt Farm is classified as amongst the oldest farmhouses in Australia. The buildings are now surrounded on two sides by industrial development which effectively blocks views of the property from the main road which is extremely unfortunate. Truly a hidden gem!!!!

Pitt Farm has been part of Heritage Tasmania’s “Open Doors” program where featured historic houses and properties are opened to HT members and the public to take tours through these privately owned homes. A fantastic initiative!!!

Photos, Text & Information: Australian Heritage Database & Heritage Tasmania