Barrington was constructed around 1848 by William Porden Kay who was the colonial architect at the time, as his own residence. He owned the property until 1859 when Barrington was purchased by Henry James Marsh. Marsh was the senior partner in the wholesale & retail ironmongery firm, Marsh & Son, which had premises in Murray Street. Henry James Marsh’s son, Henry Field Marsh, was prominent in public life in the latter part of the 19th century, spending many years living on the west coast of Tasmania, and particularly being involved in public life in Zeehan when that town as the third largest in Tasmania.
Henry Jnr returned to Hobart in 1904 and lived in a small cottage on the laneway that led to Barrington. The Marsh family had owned Barrington until the early 1900’s. In 1912, Henry Jnr became council clerk with the New Town Council. The following year the council officially recognized the laneway when Marsh lived as a public road and named it Barrington Street. Presumably it was just a coincidence that the council clerk happened to live there at the time. The road was subsequently renamed Marsh St in 1939 following a Hobart City Council review of street names.
The Salvation Army purchased Barrington in 1944 and converted the building into a boys’ home. Barrington Boys' Home eventually opened in 1946. Some of the boys had committed an offence. The rest were either wards of state or admitted by their relatives. When it opened, it had a capacity for 40 boys. In 1951, a new wing, named Purdon Wing after its chief benefactor, increased its capacity to 53 boys.
In the 1960s, about one third of the boys entered the Home through the children's courts. The rest were either wards of state or had been admitted by their relatives. It was a policy of the Home to restrict the number who had committed an offence in case they disrupted the others. The nature of that offence was confidential. Only the Superintendent knew what it was unless the boy told members of staff or other boys about it.
There were 10 members of staff. They were a Superintendent and Matron, who were a married couple, a male and female Salvation Army officer, a cook, a seamstress, and a laundress. Another woman looked after a group of 10 younger boys who lived on the grounds in separate accommodation. They had a different timetable to the older ones. In addition, a group of seven boys of different ages lived in an adjoining Home with a married couple. In 1967, there were plans to move some girls in with them to make it more like a family. It may also have been an attempt to keep siblings together. The Home already had a policy of admitting brothers for this reason.
On Saturdays, the boys could choose what they wanted to do. Recreational activities included gardening, cricket and tennis. Some earned pocket money by doing odd jobs around the Home or outside it. The Superintendent put their earnings into a trust account and withdrew it when the boys asked. They also received one shilling a week pocket money. The boys could have visitors every Saturday and go out with their parents on alternate Saturdays. One Saturday a month, they could stay with their parents overnight. On Sundays, the boys attended the Salvation Army Citadel unless they had another strongly held religious belief.
The Home was open and boys could walk around Hobart if they wished. They were not locked up for punishment and seldom caned. Punishment usually meant having to do an unpopular job. The staff did not withdraw privileges in case it caused resentment. A local doctor provided medical attention. For more specialized medical care, the Home used the outpatients at the Royal Hobart Hospital. The schools provided a dental service. The Home closed in 1981. Barrington is still owned by the Salvation Army but it now is the home of an aged care facility.
Main Text & Information Sources –
“The Story of New Town – Street by Street” – Donald Howatson 2011