Sunday, 29 January 2017

Launceston Town Hall

Launceston was proclaimed a municipality by an Act of Parliament on 30 October 1852, 47 years after it was founded. Seven Aldermen were elected to the Launceston Town Council on 1 January 1853, at the first Local Government elections held in Van Diemen's Land. Aldermen elected the first Mayor, Alderman William Stammers Button, later that day at the first meeting of the Town Council. Launceston was incorporated as a town on 20 October 1858.

By 1861 Launceston's population had grown to more than 10,000 people and in 1864 the Town Council began building new headquarters, the present Town Hall. The Council commissioned architect Mr Peter Mills to design the Victorian Italianate-styled Town Hall in 1864. It cost $6,000 to build. The ground floor of the original building contained the Council Chamber and municipal offices, and it had a concert hall and meeting room on the upper floor. The building was first occupied in 1867.

The Town Hall has been extended and its interior modified several times, first in 1906 (at a cost of $3,914), to accommodate a rapid increase in the Council's operations. The major addition to the original building occurred in 1936 (at a cost of more than $6,000), when vacant land on the north side of the original building became part of the Town Hall complex. While these extensions changed the building's size, the design features of the original architecture were kept. Five Corinthian pillars were added to the original four columns in 1936 and an iron fence in front of the Town Hall steps was removed. The three pillars at the northern end of the portico, and the southern-most column, are the four pillars and pedestals from the original building.

During 1970 a new wing was added to the western side of the Town Hall. A fire destroyed most of the contents of the City Engineer's Drawing Office housed in the wing on the night of 28 February 1978, with only the quick action of the Launceston Fire Brigade saving irreplaceable city records kept since 1890. The Aldermen's Car Park, between the Town Hall and the Annexe, was formerly the Wilcox Mofflin building - a wool and skin merchant business and small warehouse built around the turn of the twentieth century. It was demolished in 1982 after being purchased by the Launceston City Council. Before the completion of the Civic Square in 1982, the Aldermen's Car Park was located on the western side of the Town Hall.

The Town Hall Annexe was developed in 1986-88 using the late nineteenth century Federation Queen Anne-style building, known as the old Mail Exchange, on the southwest corner of Cimitiere and St John streets. The Council purchased the building late in 1986 and retained the original facade that was classified by the National Trust and protected by a Covenant. The tuck-pointed brickwork of this building is among the finest examples in Australia. The Annexe, needing central structural strengthening and extensive internal remodelling, was completed in September 1988.

The latest internal alterations extended office facilities located in the Town Hall Annexe. The facade was restored during 1993-94. Difficulties were experienced in finding materials and skills to finish the exterior. The structural alterations were completed in March 1994, and installation of key stones and quoins, tuck-point brick joints and the painting and rendering around windows were finished later in 1994. The town was declared a city by an Act of State Parliament in October 1888. The Act, known as the Launceston Corporation Act, was effective from 1 January 1889.

On 8 May 1985 the Councils of Launceston City, St Leonards and Lilydale were amalgamated to form the new Launceston City Council. After this amalgamation a number of rural areas were included in the city's Local Government boundary. The most recent boundary changes were in 1992 when parts of Prospect and Relbia were included within the city's boundary. Launceston's Town Hall is one of few mid-Victorian buildings still used for its original purpose.

Main Text & Information Source – 

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Blenheim Inn, Evandale

This is one of the finest Georgian Inn complexes remaining in Australia. Built in 1826 by John Williatt as the Patriot King William the Fourth Inn, this substantial brick building with its fine facade, rear service wings, outbuildings and courtyard is an essential element of the historic village of Evandale.

Williatt built the Inn on part of a land grant of 36.5 acres of land on which he also built his home “The Laurels” which was one of the first homes constructed in Evandale. The Patriot King William the Forth Inn was first licensed in October 1835. It featured an upstairs assembly room which was used for concerts, dancing and as a meeting room for the Masonic Lodge and other groups.

Outbuildings on the site included a brew house, stables and loose boxes, a hay loft and accommodations for visiting groomsmen. Some of these buildings were ultimately destroyed by fire and the blacksmith’s shop and cottage were demolished to make way for a service station next door. Sheep and cattle sales were held in stock yards nearby.

Thomas Fall was the licensee at the Inn from 1843 till 1848 when he moved to his new hotel (possibly the Clarendon Arms Hotel). In the 1890’s the house became the home of David Collins and his family. Collins was the Warden of Evandale and later became the Council Clerk. By 1928, the building was purchased by Mr & Mrs Reg Dean and was maintained as the Dean family home until 1978 when it was sold to its present owners.

The building houses Tasmanian Stained Glass & Amnesia Antiques. Stained glass is made on site and shipped throughout Australia. It also offers colonial accommodation.

Main Text & Information Sources –
“Evandale Heritage Walk” – Evandale Community Centre 1992
Blenheim Inn Website -

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Bellkirk, Hobart

An impressive Colonial townhouse, this stone building of two storeys, Bellkirk,  was built as the manse for the nearby Presbyterian church of Saint John. The original front garden has now been given over to a bitumen carpark.

The property name could be pun on name of the minister as ‘Kirk” is a Scottish word meaning ‘church’ and the first minister was the Rev J.Bell. The building remains in church hands and is utilized as the church offices.

Main Text & Information Source –
Australian Heritage Database

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Auld Kirk, Sidmouth

The West Tamar Presbyterian Church, commonly referred to as the Auld Kirk (Scots for old church and 'Kirk' itself is a medieval word (It was introduced to Scotland by Viking settlers) and meant 'church' in Old Norse. This beautiful little church is situated on the bank of the Tamar River, north of the Batman Bridge

The church was originally built by convicts (who were housed at Blackwood Hills) and free labour. It is a simple Gothic rubble stone church and the building of the church was begun in early 1843 at the instigation of the Rev Alexander McKenzie and Mr James Reid of Richmond Hill. Rev McKenzie was the first minister appointed to the area and he was responsible for the building of the congregation while the church was being built.

He resigned in 1845 and returned to Scotland to be replaced by the Rev James Garrett who arrived in July 1846 and became the first minister to take a service in the newly completed church which was consecrated in 1846. Rev Garrett went on to serve the church for 28 years before passing away in 1874.

After a disastrous fire gutted the church in September 6th 1900, the church became known as “The Church with a tree”. There are various paintings of the church from this time which shows the tops of wattle trees growing inside the church above the walls. It is said that eight bundles of bark were stripped from them when they were finally removed.

In 1912, a petition was sent to the Presbyterian Assembly from Sidmouth, requesting 350 pounds for the restoration of the building. Unfortunately no money was forthcoming so the members of the West Tamar congregation raised the money needed and the church was reopened on May 4th 1913. In 1914, the Rev C.A Anderson came to the Auld Kirk but by 1920 he had resigned his position after a sharp decline in members. As a result the church was closed.

By December 1933, the church was re-opened and re-dedicated. In the following years, many ministers have come and gone but the “Little Kirk” on the banks of the Tamar River still stands today as a proud monument to the many men & women who worked hard to keep this beautiful little church open. The Auld Kirk was finally listed on the Australian Heritage Register in 1978. A beautiful little church to take the time to visit in a very picturesque riverside location.

Main Text & Information Source –
Auld Kirk Sidmouth Church Brochure

Historic Photos –

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Low Head Lighthouse

The Low Head Light Station was established in 1833. The original lighthouse was the second lighthouse in Tasmania and the third in Australia. The Light Station has been developed over a period of 170 years and includes a suite of buildings including the light house, various residential quarters, a fog horn building, former stables, workshops, a meteorological recording station and garages.

Low Head is associated with the earliest phases of European exploration and settlement in northern Tasmania. The current Low Head Lighthouse is located on the eastern side of the entrance to the Tamar River in Tasmania, about six kilometres north of Georgetown and fifty nine kilometres from Launceston. It was built in 1888, replacing an older lighthouse that was erected on this site in 1833.

The first recorded Europeans to enter the Tamar River were Bass and Flinders in 1798. Flinders noted that 'the entrance is certainly a dangerous one'. In 1804 Lieutenant-Colonel William Paterson established the first proper settlement in the region, relocating settlers and convicts from Norfolk Island and soon intermittent pilot services were established. By 1806, there were a total of 276 people around Port Dalrymple. The community was dependent for its very survival upon the safe passage of vessels from Bass Strait into the mouth of the river.

Low Head has played a fundamental role in the navigation of shipping in the Tamar River since these times, when the first navigational beacons were positioned in the channels at the mouth of the Tamar and a flagstaff was erected on the headland at Low Head. The construction of the first Low Head Lighthouse commenced in 1833 from a design by Colonial Government Architect, John Lee Archer which came as a result of a recommendation by the Government Committee for Pilotage in 1826.

Built predominantly of locally quarried stone, the tower was the only one of its type in Tasmania that incorporated two rooms at the base for keepers' accommodation. It was powered by a fixed light comprised of 25 small whale oil lamps with reflectors. These were replaced in 1835 by a new revolving lantern. The original Lighthouse was demolished in 1888.

The present lighthouse was completed later in 1888, at a cost of 1800 pounds for the tower and internal iron staircase. It was built to a design by the architect Robert Huckson. The lighthouse was provided with a light apparatus that comprised several panels of tin parabolic reflectors, each one fitted with an oil wick lamp, and mounted on a framework that was rotated at slow speed by a weight driven clockwork mechanism. In 1916, this apparatus was replaced by a revolving Chance Bros 375mm focal radius triple flashing apparatus and a 55mm incandescent kerosene burner, effectively increasing the power of the light from 2 000 to 90 000 candelas. A cast iron table pedestal and a mercury float pedestal were also installed in the lower lantern house.

In 1941, the light was converted to electric operation and the kerosene apparatus replaced by a 500-watt electric lamp, which provided a fourfold increase in the light's intensity. At the same time an electric motor was installed to rotate the lens in place of the clockwork mechanism. The light was further modernized in around 1988.  The building that is now referred to as the 'Old Quarters' was probably constructed during the 1880s or early 1890s. It may have been built as the First Assistant's Quarters, which is known to have been erected in 1891. It is currently used as an interpretive display centre, with one room set aside as a generator room for the lighthouse.

The lightstation precinct also contains a number of other buildings including the former Head Keeper's Quarters, built in 1891, and later used as Assistant Keeper's Quarters, Head Keeper's Quarters, built in 1941, and Assistant Keeper's Quarters, built in 1916. In 1929, the fog signal building was constructed. Uniquely, its signal apparatus remains substantially intact and in working order.

The lighthouse is owned and operated by the Australian Marine Safety Authority, while the remainder of the Light Station is managed by the Parks and Wildlife Service. The whole of the site is listed on the Register of the National Estate and on the Tasmanian Heritage Register.

Main Text & Information Sources –
Interpretive Signs at the Site
Australian Heritage Database