Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Franklin

Franklin is a small township on the western side of the Huon River in the south-east of Tasmania, between Huonville and Geeveston. At the 2006 census, Franklin had a population of 453
It was named after Sir John Franklin and his wife Lady Jane Franklin who subdivided a large property there formerly owned by John Price to settle families of modest means. The Franklins had a ketch named Huon Pine built at Port Davey to provide a direct link to the settlement at Hobart.

Founded on a base of forestry, agriculture, ship building and subsistence farming with the aid of convict labor, Franklin became a busy river port and the cultural and commercial centre of the region. Originally used for mixed cropping, especially potatoes and other vegetables, by the late 19th century Franklin and its immediate surrounds was a major apple orcharding region. With the collapse of Tasmania's export fruit industry during the 1970s the region reverted to mixed farming.

Until the 1930s Franklin was the major town in the Huon Valley. It was thriving with the shipping that docked at its many jetties. Franklin boasted its own Court House (now a gourmet café), several hotels, banks and a Town Hall (now the restored Palais Theatre). It even had its own hydroelectric power station, driven by a local creek.

With the establishment of a better road across the Sleeping Beauty Range mountains and the growth of the nearby town Huonville, Franklin went into decline over the next few decades as the river ceased to be the road to Franklin.  However, it has recently had a resurgence as a popular tourist town and has had an influx of interstate 'Seachangers' who have revitalised the town. Much of old Franklin remains with many fascinating architectural styles readily seen in the main street.

Franklin's first settler was said to be a 'bolter' named Martin in 1822, though the first official settler was John Price who purchased land in 1836. Lady Franklin bought land in 1838 and tried to create a 'decent yeoman' class through renting small holdings to distressed settlers. River transport took their potatoes, palings and shingles to Hobart and by 1850 the township boasted a church, school and post office. By 1866, when Franklin was proclaimed a town, its population far outstripped that of other local townships, and Franklinites could enjoy local ale from Spooners Brewery at the Lady Franklin Hotel or seek moral and intellectual improvement at the Mechanics' Institute (1860).

With its Magistrate's Court and Police Force, the town became the Huon's administrative centre, its economic life underpinned by timber, ship construction, apples and small-fruits, and a vibrant retail sector. But Franklin's geography barred further progress, and Huonville, with its more productive hinterland, became the Huon's centre. The failure of reclamation works in the 1920s, aiming to provide land for expansion, symbolized Franklin's future.

Recently Franklin has undergone a transformation, revitalized by tourism and its shipbuilding school. It has recently had a resurgence as a popular tourist town and has had an influx of interstate 'Seachangers' who have revitalized the town. Much of old Franklin remains with many fascinating architectural styles readily seen in the main street.

Much of the information sourced via Wikipedia; Franklin, Tasmania

And from historical signs within Franklin itself.

Wooden Boat Centre

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