The area is generally known as one of the city's more prestigious suburbs, with many large and extravagant homes and apartment blocks. It adjoins the waterfront Salamanca area as well as the nearby prestigious suburb of Sandy Bay.
Rev. Robert Knopwood, the colony's first Chaplain, settled in the area in 1804 after Lieutenant-Governor Collins granted Knopwood 30 acres of land on the northern slope of Battery Point. He built a small house on his land and began to farm. In 1818 the new Lieutenant-Governor, Sorell, had Mulgrave Battery built on 8 acres of land which had been reserved on the point.
In the same year Governor Macquarie of NSW granted Sorell 90 acres, which comprised the southern half of Battery Point. Sorell did nothing to improve his land.
The battery built on the point was named Mulgrave Battery after the first Earl of Mulgrave, Master General of the King's Ordnance. Earth ramparts were built, and cannons from a ship installed. The battery was permanently manned by soldiers. It fired a salute on the Prince of Wales' birthday in 1818. In March 1819, the ship Young Lachlan, stolen by 13 convicts, sailed past the battery unobserved.
In 1824 Knopwood subdivided much of his block, and ten merchants and entrepreneurs bought parallel blocks stretching south from the waterline. In the same year Sorell's block passed to Robert Kermode. New Wharf was built along Salamanca Place and officially opened in 1830. It became the centre of Van Diemen's Land whaling and of overseas trade.
The merchants who bought Knopwood's subdivision were aware that plans were afoot to build a new wharf there, the old Wharf along Hunter Street being exposed and inconvenient. The merchants built large mansions, such as Narryna, on their Battery Point blocks. Later they were forced to give up their water frontages. The merchants began to build warehouses on their properties. The first to be completed was Captain Haig's in 1834. New Wharf was built by convicts who were housed in two hulks moored in the Derwent. They quarried stone from Battery Point (behind Salamanca Place), reclaimed land, laid down a road, and built infrastructure which included two wings of an Ordnance Store erected in Castray Esplanade in 1834 and 1836 to the design of John Lee Archer.
In 1824 Lieutenant-Governor Sorell's 90 acre block passed to Robert Kermode. He sold 8 acres of it to the Surveyor-General, George Frankland, who built Secheron there in 1831. John Montague, the Colonial Secretary, built Stowell and lived in it from 1832 to 1839. Other central features of Battery Point were built at this time: the first pub the 'Whaler's Return' in 1834, the windmill in 1836, Kelly's Steps in 1839, and St George's Church (designed by Archer), begun in 1837.
With the development of New Wharf, Battery Point becomes the centre for ship building and maritime industries in Van Diemen's Land.
Ship building in Battery Point slips had begun in a small way in the 1830's, J Williamson's yard having been set up in 1830. This tradition was built upon after 1840.
The first Battery Point Regatta was held in 1853 but it was spoiled by the politics of Anti-Transportation. Many Tasmanians were protesting against the ongoing transportation of convicts to the island.
Princess Wharf shed is built in the 1880's. This frees up the old warehouses for other uses, and new industry moves in. Steamship companies, many of them overseas owned, forced the local companies out of business. The larger ships also tended to use the new central wharf rather than New Wharf. Wooden ships were also replaced more and more by steel vessels, and ship building went into a slow decline. New industry moved into the area, employing a different type of workforce. An example is W.D. Peacock's jam factory, which operated in 71 Salamanca Place after 1885.
Further subdivisions of Battery Point, with corresponding increases in population, occurred until 1930.
Industries which were established in Battery Point included an iron smelter which operated in Castray Esplanade in the 1870's and a number of metal foundries in Salamanca Parade, the Derwent Ironworks and Engineering Company (established by R. Kennedy in 1883) being the largest. The Anglo-American Guano Company produced fertiliser from 1861; skin and hide companies, and possibly a glue factory, were other noxious trades. In the 1880's, a steam laundry, bark mill and fruit and vegetable preserving works - all set up near the waterfront - provided work for locals.
A new Battery Point School (an 'architectural masterpiece of the day') was opened in 1885; it was replaced in 1913 by the Albeura Street School and Battery Point children had to leave the suburb for their education.
The Queen Alexandra Maternity Hospital opened in 1908, and served the whole of Hobart. Stowell was converted to a private hospital in 1918.
During the first decades of the twentieth century, with the disappearance of intercolonial tariffs and the passing of the Commonwealth Navigation Act 1912, some local industries went into decline.
Battery Point industries, already struggling, are further hit by the Depression.
In 1930 there were still 100 people employed in the maritime related industries, and apples were now a major export from the wharf. The jam factory continued, although it had been taken over by Henry Jones in the early 1920s.
In 1940 Battery Point was selected as a suitable target for a social experiment. Welfare programs and one of the Federal Government's Lady Gowrie Child Centres were set up there. About 70 children attended daily. The Queen Alexandra Hospital was also considerably enlarged during the 1930s and 1950s.
The Cook Plan, a radical scheme of urban renewal for Hobart which was presented in 1948, involved tearing down all the old buildings of Battery Point, and replacing them with 'modern' blocks; Hobart City Council did not put the scheme into effect primarily because of the cost that would be involved. The plan was also opposed by a group of Battery Point residents who formed the Battery Point Progress Association. In spite of the suburb's seedy reputation, it's 'charm' was beginning to be recognised.
The developers and residents, who had battled each other over the past decade, came into open conflict.
Battery Point's proximity to the city and prime waterfront views, as well as low property prices, made it an attractive target for developers. As they moved in, consciousness of Battery Point's history raised a desire by many locals to retain the traditional nature of the suburb and despite protests from the Battery Point Progress Association, environmentally insensitive changes occurred, with wheat silos being erected in Salamanca Place in 1962. The suburb was transforming from industrial to residential - as indeed it had been zoned.