Wednesday, 28 January 2015


Hardcastle was built for a handsome, bearded clergyman, the Reverend Isaac Hardcastle Palfreyman, pastor of the Free Methodist Church in Murray Street. He bought the land in 1887 from an unlikely quartet of people-a gentleman, a painter and glazier, a farmer and a widow. Two lots of a sub-division, Numbers 4 and 5, were needed and the cost was £282: 10:0.

Isaac and his wife, Martha, were far from being alone when they moved in, the same year. They already had fifteen children-and there would be two more over the next two years. The naming of their children was also remarkable. In chronological order, there was Amy, Agnes, Addison, Abelard, Athanard, Achalen, Aspacia, Albani and Ayesha. There were brief flirtations with names starting with other initials, but then a return to the A’s with Aristedes, Athol, Arthur and, finally, in 1889, Audibon.

It was just as well, then, that there were three levels of living areas in their new home, as there are to this day. The ground-floor front door opens on to a wide hall, with elaborate ceiling cornices, from which a Kauri pine staircase, with blackwood posts and handrails, leads up to the first floor. A large room to the left of the front door, has cornices like the hall and both have high ceilings. The picture-rails of both front rooms are unusual in that they are not strips of wood, but brass rods with porcelain finials-held to the walls by brackets.

Both front rooms have beautifully fashioned fireplace surrounds, but the over mantel mirror and carefully crafted surround for the left room is in store awaiting reinstatement. The other, of wood and tiles in rich browns, and cast-iron, is in place. In true Victorian style, the four second-floor rooms are plainer, with simpler fireplace-surrounds.

The layout of these rooms is exactly the same as the lower floor; a very generous main bedroom (with ensuite from 1909) and three other good-sized rooms. A narrow and very steep staircase leads to the two rooms at the top of the house. They are in simple, but attractive, Baltic pine, though much of this has been painted by previous owners. The view from the turret is striking-from the Domain in the north to the distant South Arm.

Hardcastle’s restoration is certainly worth every effort the present owners have put into it.

Main Text & Information Source - West Hobart - The Dress Circle Of The City

Monday, 26 January 2015

John Beamont's Memorial

A short walk from Hydro Tasmania's Miena Dam in the Great Lakes region is the Beamont Memorial, the final resting place of 19th-century naval officer and public servant John Beamont, who explored the area in 1817. John Beamont (1789-1872), settler and public servant, was born probably in London where his father had a 'lockup shop' in Wych Street. He became a protégé of Lieutenant-Governor Thomas Davey who was said to have been in debt to Beamont's father. He arrived at Sydney presumably as Davey's secretary in the Minstrel on 25 October 1812, and proceeded to the Derwent where Governor Lachlan Macquarie ordered that he be granted 300 acres (121 ha) and assigned two convict servants.

An expected appointment as crown agent did not eventuate and he was offered instead the position of postmaster-general of Van Diemen's Land, which he accepted. However, when Davey wished to appoint him a magistrate Macquarie refused approval. Since his position as postmaster-general was virtually just as a figure head, Beamont worked for John Ingle and acted as manager for Edward Lord. In December 1817 he explored the central plateau of Van Diemen's Land, so making his most important contribution to the development of Van Diemen's Land.

By this time Lieutenant-Governor William Sorell had recommended and Macquarie approved Beamont's appointment as Naval Officer and treasurer of the police fund in succession to John Drummond who had been sent to Sydney in September to be tried for the murder of his illegitimate infant. In February 1819 Beamont was also appointed provost-marshal when Martin Tims was suspended, but in 1820 he was superseded as Naval Officer by Edward Bromley who had been appointed from England. When the office of provost-marshal was abolished, in 1824 Beamont was appointed acting sheriff, but he had to relinquish this post too when the English nominee, Dudley Fereday, arrived in January 1825.

Beamont was an original subscriber to the Bank of Van Diemen's Land in 1823 and one of the signatories to the petition for separation from New South Wales in 1824. He had chaired the meeting held in October 1823 to protest against Sorell's recall, and acted as his agent after he left the colony. In return, Sorell repeatedly stressed to the British government the value of Beamont's past services. Arthur was embarrassed by the close association Beamont had with his predecessor and by his marriage in 1820 to Harriet, the daughter of Surveyor-General George Evans, with whom the governor's relations were not good, so he protested when in 1826 the British government, on the urging of Sorell, appointed Beamont clerk of the council in compensation for the loss of his former office. Arthur asserted that Beamont was 'by education, by habits and by his associations, totally unsuited to the Office', and nominated instead his nephew, John Montagu.

Though the British government supported Beamont, it empowered Arthur to transfer him to another post of equal value. In 1827, after Beamont had refused the position because of injuries to his hand, Arthur appointed him to the newly created office of registrar of deeds, and granted him 1000 acres (405 ha) as well. When this work was transferred to the registrar of the Supreme Court in 1836, he became sheriff again. In 1841 he retired on a small pension and lived in Hobart until his death on 19 December 1872.

John Beamont was typical of many of the early settlers in Van Diemen's Land. He was without much education, fond of life, easygoing, but imbued with some ambition and with a spirit of adventure. Everywhere he seems to have been popular, and to have got along well enough while standards were low; he bought and sold land to his own advantage and even amassed wealth, but with the years had little impact on the life and progress of a developing community.

Main Text & Information – 
Australian Dictionary Of Biography - John Beamont

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Hermitage

Why this beautiful building is called "The Hermitage" is a bit of a mystery and no-one seems to know why it was called as "The Priory" earlier in the 20th century. Both names become understandable, however, when the architectural features of the building are viewed - a Gothic style entrance to a steeply gabled foyer with artistically worn flagstones and the overall number of steep, church like gabling of the roof which can be seen from any direction. There is also a trinity motif in the tall, narrow windows at the front of the house.

This stately looking house has links, not with religious matters, but with prominent names from early Tasmanian banking. The first was the 2nd Managing Director of the Derwent Bank, the man who was responsible for the introduction of the overdraft system into Australian banking and one time owner of New Town Park, Charles Swanston. In 1846, he owned the land on which the home now stands and Swanston sold it that same year to J. Ludovic Burnett. The actual builder of the "The Hermitage" was Darcy Haggett, who bought the land from Burnett in October 1851.

Upon entering this magnificent, sandstone residence, visitors would have been impressed by its grand scale. the dark cedar front door leads into a high ceilinged wide hall, divided by a very impressive, yet simple Roman Arch and from which a number of tall, dark cedar doors lead off into other rooms. At the end of the hallway is a finely carved staircase that leads to four bedrooms. There are twelve rooms altogether in the house. The large kitchen and walk in pantry continue the grand scale feeling of the entrance. French doors lead into an enormous sun room, in the finest cedar and lit by more than 100 panes of glass. The floor is flagged with stones a metre long by half metre wide. The old servant summoning system has been fully restored to working order.

One of the longest tenancies at "The Hermitage" in its long life was the widow of another prominent banker, Mrs Minnie Radcliffe. Minnie was also the daughter of Thomas Giblin who was associated with the Bank of Van Diemens land for 54 years.Mrs Radcliffe and her 6 children lived in "The Hermitage" for a quarter of a century from 1909 following the sudden death of her husband, Hamilton Radcliffe, who was the manager of the Hobart Savings bank

Because of its proximity to the beginning of the Southern Outlet, there is no shortage of traffic noise. The owners of the house have been able to keep noise down in the house by the use of fences & hedges and combine this barrier with the natural noise reduction of its solid sandstone construction.

"The Hermitage" is another of the wonderful historic homes that populate the top end of Davey Street and make that whole precinct a wonderful reminder of the masterful art of the colonial builder and the wonderful imagination of the original owners and architects.It is great that so many of these magnificent homes continue to be appreciated by their owners of today.

Main Text & Information Source - 
“Mansions, Cottages and All Saints” – Book by Audrey Holiday & Walter Eastman

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Harvest Home Inn

The Land on either side of New Town Road started to be subdivided in the mid 1830's. Pubs were the first buildings to be erected, offering meals & overnight accommodation for travellers. One of the oldest on the road was the Harvest Home Inn which was first licensed in February 1836.

From 1881, the publican of the Harvest Home inn was Thomas Dewhurst Jennings (1824 - 1890). In his time , Jennings was New Town's biggest ever personality - Literally! And his fame spread across the Tasman to New Zealand in this newspaper report from the Tuapeka Times, Volume XVII, Issue 1057, 9 July 1884, Page 3

"Mr Thomas D. Jennings, for whom it is claimed that he is the biggest man in Australia, keeps the Harvest Home Inn on the New Town road, about a mile and a half from the centre of Hobart. He is 5ft  lOin high, weighs 32 stone, measures 68 inches round the chest, 82in round the waist, and 20in. round the calf. He is perfectly healthy, and boasts that he has never taken a dose of medicine in his life. Mr Jennings was originally a strongly built man, and measured forty inches round the waist when he was 29 years of age but he did not begin to put on much flesh till he was about forty. He is now sixty, having been born in Yorkshire in the year 1824.

For many years he kept the Derwent Inn, at Risdon Ferry, in Tasmania. Three years ago he moved to his present state of location. The oddest thing is, he says, that he never realizes the idea that he is unlike other people, and when he sees them staring at him it makes him laugh. He does not walk much, though he can do so, he says, " as well as any man," so he uses a pony cart, which is rather rough on the pony. The subject of this extraordinary development is extremely temperate, eats only two meals a day, and drinks very little. Drinking, he says, reduces his bulk, but he cannot stand it.

At the Theater Royal in Hobart they have to open both folding doors to let him into the stalls, and by the fact of the doors being opened the public know he is coming to the theater. Mr Thomas Jennings intends to get married again and is by no means worried about his age, which he carries remarkably well, being indeed the only instance of a fat man who has preserved his health and his bulk together."

The property was eventually de-licensed in 1918 and became a private residence. The building still exists today although it looks markedly different from its heyday. It still remains a private residence.

Main Text & Information Sources - 
"The Story Of New Town - Street By Street" - Donald Howatson 2011
Tupaka Times Newspaper Article - Papers Past Website
Historic Photos from Thomas J Nevin - Photographer website - Thomas Nevin Photographer

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Hill Street Reservoir

For many years the city relied on the Hobart Rivulet for its water supply but continued expansion of the city meant that additional resources were required. In the 1860's the Hobart Council implemented an extensive waterworks scheme that redirected some of the creeks flowing off Mt Wellington into a new storage reservoir on the Sandy Bay Rivulet, at the top of Waterworks Road.

A 10 inch water main linked from there to the Hill Street distribution reservoir which supplies the city. The original Hill Street reservoir was a circular storage area with a diameter of 70 feet and a depth of 18 feet 6 inches. It was lined with masonary set in special hydraulic mortar and is enclosed within a square brick building.

It was soon discovered that the reservoir was leaking, but it wasnt until a second reservoir was constructed on the site in 1882 that the first one could be drained and repaired. Part of the reservoir wall collapsed in 1926 and released a spectacular deluge but it was promptly rebuilt and the Hill Street reservoir continues to function as an integral part of the city's complex water supply a reserve water supply and for fire fighting backup.

Main Text & Information Sources

"The Story of West Hobart - Street By Street" - Donald Howatson 2014
West Hobart Website - Hill Street Reservoir

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Roseville Mansion

Roseville is New Town's most flamboyant mansion. Although the elaborate facade dates from the early 1880's, the core of the building dates back to the late 1840's. Sir Alfred Stephen (1802-1894) was granted the land where Roseville now stands in September 1834 and he subdivided the land and sold it at public auction in March 1846.

Roseville was built in the late 1840s and Charles Babington Brewer (1814-1868), a Hobart lawyer, purchased it in 1850. Brewer later moved to Victoria and ultimately became a judge in the Geelong region.
Sir John George Davies (1846-1913) purchased the property at public auction in March 1878 and in the early 1880s he had ornate facades in the Victorian Boom style added, although the original Old Colonial façade can still be seen behind the newer verandas.

Davies and his brothers were the co-owners of The Mercury newspaper which had been founded by their father. Davies devoted much of his time to public affairs - he was first elected to the House of Assembly in 1884 and was its speaker from 1903.

Nellie Victoria Jansen purchased Roseville in June 1926 and lived there until the mid 1940s.  Jansen continued to own Roseville until 1961 but after World War II she converted it into apartments and rented them out – the 1946 Assessment Roll shows 22 people living there. Roseville remained a boarding house for many years and has only recently become a private residence once again.

Main Text & Information Sources
Australian Heritage Database (Including top photograph)
"The Story Of New Town, Street By Street" - Donald Howatson 2011
Australian Dictionary Of Biography - Sir Alfred Stephen
Australian Dictionary of Biography - Sir John George Davies