Sunday, 21 August 2016

Bellerive Hotel

This hotel was first licensed in 1859 and was originally called ”Todd’s Hotel” in honor of its first publican, Christopher James Todd. The owner of the Golden Fleece Hotel which was located nearby opposed the granting of the license on the grounds that another public house in the district was not required. However, it was accepted that the new hotel would be a great convenience to pleasure seekers and settlers from the country.

The name of the premises was changed to the “Bellerive Hotel” in 1861 when Samuel Kirkby became the publican. Sadly Kirkby took his own life the following year. On the evening in question he had been drinking ale & gin and some beer, for his supper when he became unusually excitable and bad tempered. Kirkby had often threatened to poison himself and when the police were called in the early hours of the morning, they found that he was not altogether right. A doctor was sent but nothing could be done. The jury’s verdict at the subsequent coronial inquest was that Kirkby ‘came to his death by poison, administered by his own hands, while of unsound mind and under the influence of drink’

Kirkby had arrived in the colony as a convict and the records reveal that this was not the first time he had used poison. In 1838 Kirkby had been apprenticed to a butcher in Lincoln when he murdered him with poison. Kirkby was sentenced to death but this was later commuted to transportation for life on the grounds that his master had been ill using him.

The Bellerive Hotel continued to operate and had been operating for 80 years when it was gutted by fire in 1939. The fire started in the adjacent garage and the proprietor of the ‘Clarence Hotel’ on the opposite side of the street, was awoken by the roar of the flames just after midnight. He lost no time in raising the alarm and a large number of residents assembled to try and prevent the fire from spreading. Unfortunately, the fire secured a hold in the hotel roof, which was galvanized iron with wooden rafters and shingles beneath. The heat became so intense that efforts to save the building had to be abandoned but the licensee assisted by many helpers, managed to remove most of the stock before it was lost.

The majority of the building was condemned but the front section of the ground floor was salvaged as temporary premises while plans for a new building were drawn up. The opening of the bridge over the Derwent in 1943 removed most of the passing trade and rebuilding on a new site was investigated. By 1951 there was still no progress and the authorities decided the ‘Bellerive Hotel’ should be de-licensed.
The ground floor section of the old hotel still remains and is currently being used as office space.

Main Text & Information Source –
 “The Story of Bellerive – Street by Street” – Donald Howatson 2015

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Stephenville, Hobart

Stephenville was the former home of Alfred Stephen, Solicitor General for Tasmania (later Chief Justice of NSW), in 1825. A two storey stucco building was built in 1825 with flanking single storey wings added in the 1830's. The front portico is full length across the original building.

On 12th February 1836, a day after celebrating his birthday at “Secheron” in Battery Point, Charles Darwin was hosted by Alfred Stephen at Stephenville. Darwin was to describe Stephenville as “the house large, beautifully furnished, dinner most elegant …an excellent concert of rare Italian music”. By the time it came up for sale, Stephen had expanded it so that, with its architectural elegance, its coach house, its enclosed garden, it was compared with “present English noblemen’s houses. The house did not sell immediately.

The house was leased to government from 1840 for 5 years, being used as Queens School to early 1844. It became the official residence of the Catholic Bishop of Hobart until 1872. For a short time, as St Mary’s Seminary, it was a boarding and day school for boys. When that school was moved to the barracks, the house was sold to William Giblin who later became premier and once again it became a private home. However, as house conceived on a grand scale, it seemed doomed to community living. By 1880 it had become the Hobart Ladies College.

The property has been in school use since c1890’s by St Michaels Collegiate School. In 1892, at the invitation of Bishop Montgomery, seven Sisters came from the mother house in Kilburn, England, to Tasmania. Of these, three Sisters remained in Tasmania and at the request of Dean Dundas, opened a school for girls and boys in October 1892. Sister Hannah was the principal of the school which had an initial enrolment of 12 children, six boy and six girls. Classes were held in the Synod Hall. The son of Bishop Montgomery was Bernard Montgomery, who attended the school whilst living in Tasmania and went on to be the victorious British Army field marshal in the Second World War organizing the D-Day Invasion at Normandy and taking the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945.

In 1895 Sister Phyllis moved the School of 71 pupils, 6 of whom were boarders, to Stephenville, the elegant old home around which the school grew and the Senior campus still thrives. A gracious, educated woman of indomitable spirit and faith, Sister Phyllis built a school around Christian values and her ideas of a useful life for women. Academic achievements of present and past students were strongly encouraged and celebrated from the start. Physical activity was essential, and cultural activities, artistic pursuits and community service were important for the roles of women in society.

By the 1920s Collegiate was firmly part of Hobart’s establishment. The School’s red and white colors were seen in sports competitions; a uniform was worn, four issues of a lively School Magazine were issued annually by present and past students, the Prefect and House systems were under way and traditions firmly established. As the School expanded in the 1930s, neighboring Tremayne was purchased and replaced with extra classrooms and boarding house space. Sister Phyllis relinquished control in 1933. She, with the eight Sisters who followed, led a continually expanding, strong Anglican school for girls that inspired hundreds of young women.

In 1947 the name of the Order’s patron saint, St Michael, was added to the School’s name and it was St Michael’s Collegiate School which the Sisters handed to the first Board of Management in 1973. Collegiate is currently led by its fifth lay principal. The Sisters maintain a strong interest in the School and are particularly remembered on the annual celebrations of Founders’ and St Michael’s Days, but also around the campus in Founders’ Hall, the Emily Centre, in Stevens House, Kilburn House and the sports grounds, Ham Common.

As the School approaches its 123rd year it has grown to include three campuses, the Junior School in Anglesea Street, the Middle School housed in the redeveloped and expanded Founders’ Hall, and the Senior School in Macquarie Street.  In addition two Early Learning Centres operate at South Hobart and Kingston.  The School has sports grounds, a Performing Arts Centre, rowing sheds, gymnasium and indoor heated swimming pool.

Main Text & Information Sources – 
Australian Heritage Database
“Historic Tasmania Sketchbook” – Patsy Adam Smith & Joan Woodberry
Australian Dictionary of Biography - Sir Alfred Stephen

Historical Photo - UTAS Library

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Milton Hall, Launceston

Milton Hall is an excellent example of a Doric Temple style building favored by the Independents (Congregationalists) who like the Baptists traditionally built their chapels in styles of classical derivation, in part to emphasize their nonconformity to the Church of England (which remained faithful to the Gothic style except during the 18th century), and also because classical proportions lent themselves more to preaching than the elongated building inherited by the establishment Church

In June 1840, Rev John West was asked to form a new Congregational Church. (There was, at the time, a Congregational Church in Tamar Street from which this new group was formed.) A wooden building was dragged to its site, where now stands the City Mission, by a team of bullocks. This Church soon became too small, and on 14th August, 1842, a new building was opened opposite St. John’s Square. It became known as St. John’s Square Chapel.

The name of the church was changed to Princes Square Congregational Church when the name of the Square was altered. As time passed, the congregation outgrew the church building. In 1885 Christ Church Congregational Church grew out of the St. John’s Square Chapel next door which was renamed Milton Hall. Milton Hall underwent a renovation in 1899.

Between 1913 and 1916 Milton Hall was one of the campuses of what was to become Launceston College. In 1983 Central Baptist Church bought the Christ Church Congregational Church and Milton Hall buildings and became Christ Church Baptist Church.

Since its closure as a working chapel, Milton Hall appears to have become a church owned public space which could be hired for performances’, meetings etc. In recent years, Milton Hall appears to have used in various ways, including as a school of self defense & martial arts and a Christ Church run drop in centre for homeless people in Launceston on a Saturday night.

Main Text & Information Source –
Australian Heritage Database

Historic Photos – 

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The Officer's Quarters, Port Arthur

Tents accommodated the 63rd Regiment when it arrived at Port Arthur in September 1830. More permanent accommodation was constructed soon after with a timber barrack capable of holding over 60 men. As Port Arthur grew, so did the need for larger barracks. Plans were prepared in 1837 but construction was delayed until 1840 when a brick building with an impressive sandstone fa├žade was erected on the hill behind the Guard Tower. The original barracks were then demolished. The new building seems to have comfortably accommodated 100 rank & file in 1842 but by 1846, with over 270 officers & soldiers, it had become so overcrowded that men were sleeping on the ground. In response to this issue, a new barracks was proposed on the other side of Mason’s Cove, but this did not proceed with a second barracks being constructed to the west of the existing one.

For the first decade or so, the officers & officials who administered Port Arthur lived in timber framed cottages on the hillside behind the Guard Tower. However, as time went by, the cottages grew older, there became cause for complaint. Thomas Lempriere, the Commissariat Officer quote in 1847 – “In two months time I shall have completed a residence of 14 years under this roof, a weatherboard house that has not a single door wind or watertight. The plates supporting the uprights are decayed from damp and age, which has caused the walls to sink, the whole having been constructed from green wood, every door and window, has shrunk. In fact, the residence is quite unfit for the residence of any officer of the department…..they might perhaps serve as temporary accommodation for some of the inferior officers of the convict department”

During the 1840’s the senior officers’ accommodation was upgraded and their new brick & stone buildings form what is known today as Civil Officers Row. These buildings have survived and have been restored in recent years. The old cottages became the residences of clerks, overseers, and storekeepers. Some of them had families with them and some shared with other officials. By the time the settlement closed in 1877, the houses would have been in very poor condition. They were purchased at the government auction, presumably for demolition. Any remaining traces of the cottages have been lost with the 1895 & 1897 bushfires.

The Senior Military Officer had a separate house constructed for him and his family next door to the Commandants House in 1834. It became known as Rose Cottage. Lempriere described it in 1838 as a neat cottage with a verandah at the front and comprising 4 rooms and a kitchen. The house was initially constructed entirely of wood (no bricks were produced at Port Arthur before 1839) but the kitchen and outbuildings were later rebuilt in brick. There was grass at the front and a garden at the rear. By the early 1840’s the house was occupied by Captain & Mrs Errington. She sent paintings of the house and her little boy to her family in the UK which showed a comfortable, well furnished interior. But by 1848, the occupants were complaining that the building was damp and rotting. The garden of the cottage seemed to be noted for its “prettiness” and this was probably why it was called Rose Cottage.

It was one of the settlement buildings that remained unsold at the original government auction after the settlement’s closure in 1877 but by 1887, the cottage was named “Mount Parnassus” and was run as a juvenile school. By 1889, it was again sold and once again known as Rose Cottage. By 1897, it housed the State School. By this time, it would have been a very old timber building and while it caught fire during the 1895 bushfires, it was saved. However it was not so lucky during the 1897 fire.

Many of the serving military soldier’s were married and in some cases their families accompanied them to Port Arthur. Unless they were officers, the families all shared a room in the barracks. In 1853, two double cottages were approved for married military officers. The plan was to have one built on either side of the guard tower. However, only one cottage was ever constructed. Each half of the cottage had two rooms on the ground floor, one or two attic rooms above and a kitchen behind.

The tenants were military families at first but later overseers and civil officers occupied them from time to time. The building was sold after the closure of Port Arthur but was badly damaged in the 1897 bushfires. Half of it was rebuilt a few years later, the other side serving as a chicken house. When rebuilt, it was used as a museum for visitors for a number of years. In 1963, both sides were renovated and in 1986, further conservation work was completed.

Main Text & Information Sources – 
Interpretive Signs at the Site
“Port Arthur – Convicts & Commandants” – Walter. B. Pridmore