Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Jolly Hatters' Inn

Still standing in its original position, the Jolly Hatters' Inn is sited on the north side of Melville Street, just east of Elizabeth Street. The Inn was originally built in 1824 as a hat factory, on a block first granted to Richard Cleburn. It wasn't until 1833 that it became licensed as the Jolly Hatters' Inn. Its publican in the early period was William Champion, an advocate for the working class as well as a brewer who made beer, and ginger beer, in the brewery behind the Inn. It was William who had run the hatters business in the building, hence the first name of the Inn.

Around this time, the Inn had become the hub of working class political activity. The Inn was a house of call (or labour exchange) where employers would call of a morning to select workers from the assembled unemployed, something of an ancestral "Commonwealth Employment Scheme'. It was also the formative place of a number of unions which were set up in the 1830s and 1840s. There is historic material accounting for union meetings at the Inn to help improve working mens wages and conditions. Licencee William Champion was elected as one of their spokesmen.

The Inn was also the set-off point for the workers' brigade marching to the first big popular meeting aimed at abolishing transportation of convicts to Tasmania. This meeting, in the early 1840s was to be followed by a decade or more of campaigning which led to the end of transportation - Tasmania being the last Australian colony receiving convicts. The Inn was a centre for such agitation as 'free' workers who were competing with the cheaper convict labor.

The Jolly Hatters Inn is a two story sandstone building with a galvanized-iron pitched roof. Its northern 'wing' fronts directly on to Melville Street. The three-story brewery is of sandstone block construction. The buildings are now occupied by Tabor College Tasmania,  an educational organisation.

I haven't been able to find much more information about the Jolly Hatters' Inn so if anyone can help with anything else from its history I would really appreciate it. Please feel free to leave any info in the comments, or you can send it to me via email.

Main Text & Information Sources - 
"Pubs in Hobart from 1807" - David.J.Bryce
Australian Heritage Database

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