Sunday, 30 November 2014

St Mathew's Close, New Norfolk

St Mathew's Close is a typically English style building constructed of hand made bricks and hand hewn timbers. The term "Close" is a religious term of attachment to the surrounds of a church and St Mathew's Close is closely connected to the historic St Mathew's Church in New Norfolk.

In 1866 when the Close was constructed, the land upon which it stood, and its surrounding area was "vested in the trustees of the property of the United church of England & Ireland in Tasmania" by the government. The close building first played its part in church affairs as a Sunday School. In 1890, the building was enlarged with a new wing being added to the northern side of the building and in the early 1900's, it became known as the Church of England parish hall as well as continuing its role as a Sunday School.

By 1969, the Close was opened in its present form as a place for the display of local early settlers artifacts and as a place to display and sell items produced by local artists and artisans. The Close still continues to serve the church as it has since its inception but these day in a different role for what it was first built. The profits made within the walls from the sale of products and handicrafts goes to aid in the ongoing preservation of the St Mathew's Church which had it's humble beginnings in 1823 as a Sunday School.

Main Information Source - Hand Painted Plaque in the wall inside The Close.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Derwent Bank (Tasmanian Club)

The Derwent Bank was established as a partnership by a group of Hobart citizens, including several officials, and it opened for business in January 1828 in Davey Street, Hobart, with a staff of two, the cashier Stephen Adey and the accountant John Leake of Rosedale, Campbell Town. At first it had seven directors, but they were reduced to three, and the managing director was William Hamilton, who went to London as the bank’s representative.

He was succeeded by Charles Swanston who bought the shares, and assumed direct control of the bank. Swanston (1789-1850), a former Captain in the Indian Army also carried on business as an import and export agent in wool, tea, sugar, rum, etc. Under Swanston’s management the Derwent Bank prospered, attracting large amounts of overseas money. He was responsible for the introduction of the overdraft system into Australian banking.

In 1834 the bank became the Derwent Savings Bank. In October 1841 Swanston converted the bank into a mortgage bank, and as the depression of the 1840's deepened, the flow of overseas money decreased. Swanston managed to keep the bank going for another 5 years, but the bank went into liquidation in 1849 and John Walker, merchant and mill owner of Hobart, acted as liquidator.

The Tasmanian Club was established in 1861 in Hobart by seventy gentlemen. It was founded on the 'London pattern', that is, election or exclusion of candidates by ballot. The Club was located in leased premises at Webb's (now Hadley's) Hotel from 1861 until 1873. In April 1873 the Club moved to its present location of 132 Macquarie Street. The Club building was built in the Georgian style in 1846, originally as the Derwent Bank for Captain Charles Swanston to a design of architect James Alexander Thomson.

In 1891, following outright purchase of the land and buildings, major extensions were made to the Club building, including the main dining room and accommodation. The Tasmanian Club is regarded as the 'senior gentlemen's club' of Tasmania by its interstate and overseas counterparts. It has an upper limit to membership of 400. The building remains the home of the Tasmanian Club to this day.

Main Text & Information Sources
-         Aus Post History
-         Tasmanian Club, Hobart
-         Australian Dictionary Of Biography - Charles Swanston
-         Australian Dictionary Of Biography - Stephen Adey
-         Australian Dictionary of Biography - William Henry Hamilton

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Jolly Farmer's Inn, Richmond

Originally known as the Jolly Farmer's Inn, it was built in stages with a basement brick structure dating back to 1826. Simon McCulloch was an ex-convict.  He had been found guilty of burglary and robbery, and been sentenced to transportation for life in August 1817.  McCulloch arrived in Van Diemen’s Land the following year and was granted a conditional pardon in September 1826. It’s believed the first stage was the two room cellar which has solid brick walls and a fireplace and features a narrow “embrasure” between the walls to protect the property from bushrangers.

McCulloch built the large house on the corner block and advertised its lease in the Colonial Times in October 1839.  The property was described as ‘a Commodious new two-story Brick House, containing five good rooms on the ground floor, and four upstairs, one of which is twenty-six feet long, kitchen and cellar below.  The house is situated in a pleasant part of the town, near to the Bridge, on the Pittwater side, and was originally built for an Inn, for which, or for a respectable private dwelling, it is well adapted.’

It seems that the property wasn’t leased and the following year McCulloch licensed the premises as the Union Hotel.  Although situated outside the town centre, the pub was adjacent to the main route to the east coast, and to Sorell and the south-east.  McCulloch operated the Union Hotel for many years before getting into financial difficulties and was declared insolvent in August 1868.  The ‘old established and well-frequented Hostelry’ was advertised for sale but did not attract a buyer.

McCulloch licensed the Union Hotel for the last time in 1870.  The amount of passing trade was drastically reduced by the opening of the Sorell Causeway in 1872 – Richmond was effectively bypassed. The 1842 census records that Simon McCullough lived in the house with his wife Mary (O’Keefe), their four children, and five convicts. Simon died in 1884 and the house subsequently became a private residence and was purchased by William Bone, the owner and operator of the nearby Richmond Steam Flour Mills.  Bridget Smith bought it in December 1894 and lived there until 1934 when it was purchased by Albert Thornton, the publican at the Commercial Hotel (today’s Richmond Arms Hotel). The Jolly Farmer's Inn has also been known as the Union Hotel and Stratford House and is now referred to as Tasmania’s History House.

While the house has been restored to suit modern living standards, there are many reminders of the past. It is a Georgian style building that has original floors, NSW cedar doors, window casements and mantlepieces. Some window panes are original glass dating from the 19th century. At the front door the well-worn stone step indicates the number of visitors to Tasmania’s History House over the past 188 years. In the front room the trap door reminds us that this room was the original bar where many barrels and bottles were hauled up from the cellar below.

In 1974 there was a prime ministerial visit when Gough and Margaret Whitlam stayed overnight while visiting then Federal Member for Franklin Ray Sherry and his family. Tasmania’s History House has a large cottage garden with fruit trees and a vineyard.

The house today has a contemporary purpose – as a place for historical research and social policy advice and advocacy. These services have been developed by current owners, prominent Australian Historian, Henry Reynolds and his wife, Margaret, utilizing their significant academic and cultural experience.

Main Text & Information Sources
-         Australian Heritage Database
-         Tasmania’s History House website - Tasmania's History House

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

St Andrew's Church, Ellendale

St Andrew's is a wonderful, well cared for country church. Built of stone, it has a very unusual and attractive round turret at one end of the building that is reminiscent of a hop kiln, except for having little, decorative battlements around the top.

The history of St Andrew's goes back well over a century when land was donated for the building of a church and cemetery by James Clark in 1885. It was part of land granted to him by Governor Frederick Weld in 1874. The cemetery was consecrated in 1886 and not long after that event, work commenced on the construction of the church. By 1889, the building was completed and the beautiful little church was consecrated by Bishop Bromley.

Inside, St Andrew's is simple, clean & airy, with bright carpet and pine pews. It retains a still-well-in-use feel about it. An interesting point of difference between St Andrew's and so many of the other small country churches built throughout Tasmania is that it has no grand stained glass windows installed. However, this doesn't take away from the beauty of the church building at all as it doesn't seem to need them, having a complete feel about it as it is. The cemetery is in front of the church and has the resting places of many early settlers to the district.

The beauty of the church has been appreciated by people from across the globe with the visitors book having been signed by visitors from the USA, Canada, Holland, Sweden, New Zealand and the UK.
For a short time, Ellendale was a parish in its own right with St Andrew's the centrepiece of the parish. However, during the great depression of the 1930's saw the end of the independent parish and Ellendale is now part of the parish of Hamilton.

This beautiful stone building is located on the left hand side of the road as you drive out of Ellendale and is very visible. Well worth a stop for a wander around the church grounds.

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

Monday, 17 November 2014

Old Hamilton Inn & Barn

The Old Hamilton Inn and the large brick barn that stands beside it are great survivors or a bygone era. They were originally part of a whole row of alcohol related neighboring buildings. Sadly, over many years, the neighboring establishments, the Hit & Miss Hotel and the Old brewery, both fell into disrepair and had to be demolished. they were both stone buildings of substantial proportions.

Built around 1834 by convicts for John & Elizabeth Collins, the Old Hamilton Inn is in remarkably good condition. John was a builder, having been a plasterer’s boy in London before his conviction and subsequently was assigned to work in building work when he arrived in Hobart. There are a couple of other houses and buildings that John Collins built in the town as well. His family stayed there for some years until the lure of gold in Victoria caused them to depart, including John’s wife Elizabeth who went after John died.

One of John’s sons John Edward Collins had an interesting history. He grew up in Hamilton. One day he and an Irishman held up the Inspector of Taxes in a coach on his way back on the Hamilton to Hobart road. They escaped with a considerable amount of money. I think it was the local constable who went straight to a house and arrested them both. It turned out that when the Inspector of Taxes gave his report, the copper knew exactly where to go because there was only one Irishman in the district! John Edward was convicted and sent to the dreaded Port Arthur. When freed he went to Victoria too.

The Inn was known alternatively as Langdon's Pub (after an early owner), The Hamilton Inn, and the Old Inn. Apparently the title, Old Inn, came about because another hotel in town took the name Hamilton Inn. It operated as an Inn for around 80 years, finally ceasing to operate as a hotel in 1914. Shortly after, it became a private residence.

According to sources, it was owned by Mrs Ethel Sonners for close on 60 years who always kept the gardens tidy and cared for. The barn next door was used as a depot for the carting business of Mrs Sonner's husband Walter, and his brother, George. Their horse drawn transports were primarily employed in carting goods  down to meet the railway at Macquarie Plains. With the arrival of the motor vehicle, the barn was no longer needed as a stable and it found a newer role as a substantial poultry house.

The Old Hamilton Inn has had various areas renovated over the years and still has areas in need of serious renovation. It also still contains some original features such as the hallway, flagstone flooring and the high ceiling.The barn appears to be in poor condition and needs a serious amount of restoration work to return it to its former condition. It would appear that the property has been sold a number of times over the past 10 years and so it is assumed that the property is still being used as a private residence.

I would really appreciate any further historical background information about the Inn if anyone has something that could be shared. Please leave any information/links etc in the comments area for all to see.

Main Text & Information Sources -
Thank You to Ian Sampson for the use of some of his family history
Check Out Ian's Fantastic Short Story "Rachel's Will" - Rachel's Will
"From Black Snake To Bronte" - Book by Audrey Holiday & John Trigg

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Slateford, Hayes

The house at Slateford started it's existence as a two roomed, rubble walled dwelling in the mid 1820's. The land was a grant of 500 acres to George Brooks in 1823, three years after his arrival in Van Dieman's Land. All did not go well for Brooks and the property was ultimately acquired by the hard working and enterprising John Terry who owned and operated the Lachlan River Mill at what was known at the time as Elizabeth Town (Soon to be renamed New Norfolk).

John Terry had been a miller back in England and had moved to Sydney in October 1818 with his wife, eight daughters, three sons and two mill stones. Sydney did not seem to appeal to Terry and he moved his family again in 1819 to Elizabeth Town where he established his milling operation. He took up another grant soon after and established his property "Askrigg" in nearby Macquarie Plains (Now known as Gretna). In 1827 he purchased the property known as Slateford from George Brooks and his son, Thomas, moved to Slateford and proceeded to farm the property.

Even by the standards of the day, when the construction techniques dictated to use bulk to overcome and lack of building skill, the walls of the original dwelling are extremely thick, being two and a half feet thick. The upgrading that was to follow over many years was predicted by the inclusion of a very attractive pine front door. the door was topped by a fanlight, part of which comprised some fifty or so segments of pine painstakingly crafted into a curved shape.

Attractive weatherboard additions at the front of the house were thought to have been the work of Edward terry in about 1880 - 1890 and it was further extended, at the rear, in the 1930's. It is interesting to note the resilience of the 19th century weatherboards which face the prevailing weather. It is also interesting to speculate on the actual location of the house. Whilst it overlooks the Derwent River, it's not that close to the river bank, nor is it high enough up the bank in order to take advantage of the views on offer.

In the days of shingle roofs, there was not the option of collecting rainwater as is commonplace now, so a fresh water supply was a key consideration for the siting of the house. It had been believed that a spring was located just behind the original part of the house thus providing the required fresh water. Later tests were to prove that water was in fact present right where family legend had the spring located.

The millstones that accompanied John Terry on his journey from England now take pride of place outside St Mathews Close in New Norfolk. It would be great to know if the Terry family still own Slateford.

Main Text & Information Source - 
"From Black Snake To Bronte" - Book by Audrey Holiday & John Trigg
Wikipedia - John Terry
Australian Dictionary Of Biography - John Terry