Sunday, 7 February 2016

George Town Hotel

The George Town Hotel is the oldest continually licensed hotel in George Town. The double storey brick building with its iron lace veranda h is one of the most notable of George Town's early buildings.

The first licensed premises in George Town was the military canteen, operated by Richard Haimes. In 1831 two public houses had been licensed. The George Town Hotel and the George Inn, operated by sea captains, Joseph James & John Thomas. In 1832, Richard Haimes opened the Waterloo Tavern on the corner of Macquarie & Sorell streets. The hotel was later owned by George Wilson. In 1835 John Batman stayed at the Waterloo tavern while awaiting his departure on the Rebecca for Port Philip.

Staying in George Town in the early days was not without its adventures. In December 1833, the George Inn was raided by bushrangers. They tied up John Thomas and the servants, ordered supper, called for several pots of beer and proceeded with Mrs Thomas to search the house. They stayed the night leaving just before dawn with their booty, which included six bottles of rum, sugar, flour, tea, tobacco, some plums for a Christmas pudding and a spyglass.

The present George Town Hotel was first licensed in 1846 as the British Hotel. It is not known when the name changed but it was still called the British Hotel in the 1890's. Around the end of the First world War, The George Town Hotel was taken over by Harold Grey, and the grey family ran the hotel until 1976. It is still locally known as Gray's Hotel

Main Text & Information Source - 
"Treasures Of George Town" - George Town & District Historical Society 2003
Model version of The George Town Hotel part of the wonderful Model Village of 19th Century George Town recreated to scale by volunteers and can be viewed at the George Town Watch House

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

St George's Church, Battery Point

In April 1834, the residents of Battery Point started collecting donations to help pay for the construction of a church in their neighborhood. Under the provisions of the church building act, the colonial authorities would pay half the cost of the construction of the church if the other half was raised by the public.

At the time, most of the land in Battery Point to the south of Hampden Road was owned by William Kermode and he sold the church trustees a hilltop site on the southern side of Cromwell Street for 250 pounds. The church design was completed by John Lee Archer and tenders from “persons desirous of contracting for the immediate erection and completion of the church” were called for in May 1836.
The ceremonial foundation stone was laid by Lieutenant Governor George Arthur in October 1836. The site was described as having a commanding eminence and it was predicted that the church would present a cheering and prominent feature in the landscape of Hobart Town.

The church has an unusual layout, with two side aisles instead of a single central aisle. It still has its original cedar box pews. Lack of funds meant that the first phase of construction did not include the tower or the front porch. Nevertheless, the large sandstone church was formally consecrated in May 1838 and the Hobart Town Courier reported that its general characteristics, both externally and internally, were perfect neatness & simplicity.

Having completed the initial work, it was decided in 1841 to proceed with the tower with a design by convict architect, James Blackburn. The Government was asked for assistance, and agreed to grant convict labour, stone and timber, on the basis that the subscribers were to supply cartage, lime, lead and other materials. Work began on building the tower, but it was soon found that the tower basement, which had been put in at the time of the original building, was badly built and insufficient to bear the weight of the tower. It was found necessary to remove this basement, as well as the vestibule and the two vestries on either side of it. For various reasons, one of which was the inability to supply suitably skilled convict labour, the work was frequently interrupted and left for long periods. By 1847 the tower was finally completed, but the porch and the rooms at the basement of the tower were left unfinished. For five years “the Church was more or less exposed to the weather and great inconveniences were occasioned to the congregation”

The tower construction was associated with even more controversy. John Montagu, the colonial secretary, resided in nearby Stowell and was one of the parishioners at St George’s. Montagu had authorized the expenditure of a large sum of public money for the erection of the tower without the approval of the Lieutenant Governor John Franklin. When Franklin eventually inquired into the matter, Montagu laid the blame of Alexander Cheyne, the director of public works for proceeding without the proper authority and had Franklin sack him. Cheyne protested his innocence but it took another two years before a note proving that it was Montagu, and not Cheyne who had ordered the works, was finally discovered.

Nineteenth century Battery Point was home to a sea-faring community, and to those who worked in the shipbuilders’ yards and on the wharves. These connections earned St George’s the name of The Mariner’s Church. Early records show that St George’s donated much money to help the poor and widows. St Georges was the first church in Tasmania to take collections, which were given to the poor and missions. Several Alms Houses for elderly men were built in 1843 on land given by the Government for a burial ground.

At this stage, the church still didn’t have a front porch which was considered all that was necessary to finish the building and render it one of the most beautiful buildings in Hobart Town. Thus a church completion fund was established and by 1888, enough had been raised to allow the construction of the Doric styled portico. Despite being constructed in three stages over some 50 years, the church presents a unified appearance and is considered to be the finest Greek Revival style church in Australia.

In 2013, St Georges Church celebrated its 175th anniversary, celebrating its rich heritage and its continued focus upon serving the community, local and overseas mission, advocacy work and services for worship and fellowship. Erected to serve as a mark for shipping, the tower of St George’s has been a landmark for sailors ever since 1847. Back in the nineteenth century when St George’s was built, Battery Point was home to master mariners, shipwrights, seamen, fishermen, shipping agents and many others who worked in the shipbuilders' yards and on the wharves. These connections earned St George's the name of "The Mariners' Church".

With its hilltop location in Battery Point, the fine tower gives the church landmark qualities and it can be seen from many parts of Hobart. It is truly a major Hobart landmark to this very day!

Main Text & Information Sources – 
“The Story of Battery Point – Street By Street” – Donald Howatson 2012
Australian Heritage Database

Historical Photos – 


Sunday, 31 January 2016

Infant Orphan School, New Town

The Infant School was opened in 1862 to relieve overcrowding in the Boys' and Girls' Schools either side of St John's Church. It also housed the hospital for the orphan school. The rear of the building had an unusual radial spoke arrangement which has been demolished. The main block is flanked by two single storey wings which were raised to two stories circa 1880.

The Infant Orphan School, constructed in 1862 became the Female Charitable Institution in 1879, operating as a lying-in hospital and home for girls considered to be 'mentally defective' as well as providing accommodation for women who were destitute. After the orphan school closed in 1879, the noteworthy wrought-iron verandas were added and other alterations were made. The building became known as New Town Charitable Institution.

The New Town Charitable Institution was housed in the former buildings of the Infant's Orphan School after it closed in 1879. In addition to the Boys' Training School and the offices of the Neglected Children's Department, the Institution provided accommodation to people who were poor and aged, or had disabilities. Between 1896 and 1911, the offices of the Charitable Grants Department were at the Institution. Since 1874, the Infant Orphan School had been used as a lying-in hospital for young women with intellectual disabilities and the Institution continued to serve this purpose.

The New Town Infirmary replaced the New Town Charitable Institution in 1912. Its residents included children detained by the government for various reasons. The New Town Rest Home, run by the government, replaced the New Town Infirmary in August 1934. It provided accommodation to children and adults placed there for many different reasons.

The government changed the name of the New Town Infirmary to the New Town Rest Home in an attempt to avoid the stigma of poverty associated with the institution. The Home provided temporary accommodation to state wards and permanent accommodation for people who were elderly and infirm, with chronic illnesses, or who were certified under the Mental Deficiency Act 1920.

In 1936, New Town Rest Home became St John's Park. It is now owned by Southern Cross Care (Tas.) Inc and is part of its Rosary Gardens Residential Aged Care Facility. It is used for medical and administrative purposes. It also contains a kiosk for inmates and staff.

Main Text & Information Sources – 

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Savage's Store, Bothwell

This building was constructed by H.J Savage as a general store in the mid 1850's. The Evans family, who were related to Savage, later ran the store and were still trading there in 1907. During World War 2, the building was used as a store for scrap paper and after the war had ended, part of the premises were used as tea rooms.

Bothwell Masonic Lodge purchased the building in 1955 and used it for several years with the ground floor operating as an art gallery from 1984. The Post Office was relocated to the building in 2007 from its previous location in Alexander St bringing with it some of the original post office furnishings including the original counter. It continues in this role to this day.

Main Text & Information Source - 
Interpretive Sign at the Site