Sunday, 29 March 2015

Former Temperance Hall, Hobart

During the 19th century, the Temperance movement slowly developed throughout the British Empire and was based on concerns about the increasing numbers of people being drawn into poverty and crime via the excessive consumption of all sorts of alcohol and other intoxicating liquors. During this time, the British Prime Minister, William Gladstone, famously declared that he believed alcohol was responsible for more deaths in the British Empire than war and famine combined.

The development of the movement saw the formation of numerous Temperance societies across the empire where members would sign a pledge to abstain completely from the consumption of alcohol or at least exercise moderation. The societies actively lobbied the governments of the day to create laws that severely restricted the sale of alcohol. As during this time, pubs were the main public meeting places available, the societies were often forced to construct coffee palace and temperance halls in order to provide themselves with an alternative to the pubs.

The Tasmanian Temperance Alliance was formed in Hobart in 1850. Soon after the origin of the organization, the Alliance Rooms in Macquarie Street were purchased, and had remained in their possession for a number of years. By 1884, the building had been found to be inconveniently situated, and otherwise unsuitable. It has been thought advisable to secure a more suitable site and the committee hoped soon to be in a position to recommend a solution to its members.

By 1890, the Alliance had been able to purchase land in Melville Street, Hobart and have constructed for its use, a large hall for alcohol free public entertainment. The building was constructed in a classical design and the building was said to have been so well constructed that the acoustic properties of the hall were said to be fully free of any echo. An amazing achievement for the time. The hall was ultimately used to present lectures, musical concerts and performances, tea dances and variety performances.

The Tasmanian Temperance Alliance maintained its ownership of the building until 1922 when they sold the property and it became the Bijou Theater. This venture was not a commercial success. It was used briefly as a furniture store in the mid-1920s, and eventually remodelled as the Avalon cinema in 1932, becoming the venue for the production of both Paramount and British Dominion films. A new modern sound system was installed and the seating was rearranged to accommodate 900 patrons. The ground floor entry was remodeled but the upper floor façade was left unaltered.

The building still retains this appearance and the building was acquired in 1977 and has since been used for various commercial businesses including the Brunacci Avalon Markets which is a popular local weekend marketplace.

Main Text & Information Sources –
“The Story Of central Hobart – Street By Street” – Donald Howatson
Trove Website - The Mercury 29th May 1884

Historic Photos –
University of Tasmania Online Library - Temperance Hall Crowd

Brunacci Indoor Market website - Avalon Market

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

St Peter's Church, Hamilton

St Peters Church of England at Hamilton is one of the oldest existing churches in Australia, and even pre-dates the founding of Melbourne. Built of freestone with a tower which has an opening for a clock, which for some reason has never been installed and with only one door under the tower. The reason for this was almost certainly to prevent the congregation, which in the early days was about 50 per cent convicts, from attempting to escape.

The plans for the church were designed by the Government architect, John Lee Archer. The cost was stated at £700 minus the tower and the first committee for the construction of the church was appointed with Mr. D. Burn as Secretary. The Government agreed to pay half the cost of the church and construction began in 1834 with J.J. Turnbull as builder. The foundation stone of St. Peter's, Hamilton, was laid by the Lieutenant Governor of Tasmania, Colonel George Arthur, on Thursday, June 26, 1934.

Prior to that date meetings of residents of the surrounding district interested in the erection of the church had been held, and subscriptions invited and generously responded to by leading residents. Apparently the walls had to be rebuilt in 1835 just after the laying of the foundation stone by Lieut. Governor Arthur in June, 1834 and the new builder contracted to complete it was W. Sibley after Turnbull had found himself in financial difficulties.

It was stated that the church would be completed within two months, but that did not mean all interior fittings and furnishings, because a further reference states that the building was completed and inspected in June, 1837. The church was consecrated on May 8th, 1838, by the first and only Bishop of Australia, the Rev Dr. W. G. Broughton, who also consecrated the burial ground. The first confirmation service was held on the same day at 10:30.

There were plans to add a spire to the tower in the 1920s but they never eventuated.
There are headstones around the church that date back to the 1830s and some of the regions earliest pioneer settlers. One headstone of particular interest is that of Sarah Lane who died at the age of 8 years in 1844.
The inscription on the headstone reads:
Lieth the mortal remain-
Of Sarah Lane
Died 3rd Nov.r 1844
Aged 8 years
This little inoffensive child
To Sunday school had trod
But sad to tell was burnt to deat-
Within the house of God”

The dropped 's & h' are the result of the stonemason who didn’t measure out his work very well but saddest of all is the fact that this little girl died tragically in a fire while attending her Sunday School. Quite incredible and very sad.

St Peters remains an active and vibrant church to this day and is part of the Hamilton Parish

Main Text & Information Source - St Peter's Church, Hamilton

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Lyons Cottage Historic Site, Stanley

Lyons Cottage was the early home of the Honourable Joseph Aloysius (Joe) Lyons.  Lyons was Premier of Tasmania between 1921 and 1928.  He went on to become the only Tasmanian Prime Minister ever elected, between 1932 and 1939. Lyons Cottage is where he spent the first few years of his life.  It contains a number of antiques, historical photographs and information on the Lyons family.

Lyons Cottage is significant on a number of levels.  While it is important simply due to its association with Joe Lyons, it can also be considered of significance in relation to its humble appearance.  It implies that anyone in Australia, regardless of their background, can be elected to the highest office in the country if they have the ability.  On another level completely, the cottage demonstrates the characteristics of a single storey, weatherboard Victorian Georgian dwelling.

The cottage itself seems to have originally been part of an allotment that included an adjacent hotel property. The hotel was built by Joe’s father, Michael Lyons, in 1849.  He sold the hotel in 1854 but retained the lot where the cottage now stands. It is not known exactly when the cottage was built but it was certainly constructed before 1870 as it appears in a photograph taken in that year. The cottage is just one storey and, when first built, would have only had four rooms – two at the front, one more and a kitchen at the rear. It was also constructed fairly cheaply – from plain timber on the exterior, and with interior paling boards rather than more expensive lath and plaster.

It really is quite a modest dwelling, even for the time. Renovations most likely took place during the early twentieth century, and additional rooms have been added to the rear at some point.  It was acquired by Parks and Wildlife (PWS) in 1976 and, at that time, was in a fairly poor state of repair.  In 1979 PWS undertook repairs of the building in order to retain the original and humble appearance of the home, similar to how it looked when Joe Lyons was born in 1879.

Main Information Source - Lyons Cottage Historic Site
Australian Dictionary Of Biography - Joseph Lyons

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The Star Inn, Hobart

The Star Inn was first licensed in 1839 and was sited about three doors down from Molle Street on the northern side of Goulburn Street. The Star Inn appears to have remained open steadily until 1900 and seems to have had only 5 or so licencees in its lifetime. It is reported that the Inn was a popular place with sporting people and groups from around Hobart.

Henry Marshall took out the original license in 1839 and he held it until 1852. In 1853, Mary Marshall took over the license but it seems she only held the license for part of the year when Henry Marshall took over the license of the Star Inn. Not sure if this the same Henry Marshall who had the initial license but this time the license was only held until 1856 before a further change took place. John Venebles took over in 1856 but didnt see out the year. He was replaced by William Morton who held on to the license until 1860. There is a bit of a gap between 1860 when William Morton appears to have relinquished the license and 1886 when M.A. Watt appears to take up the license of the Inn.

M.A Watt held the license until 1893 and it appears that changes were on the horizon as the Star Inn is listed as becoming a private house around 1900. The building still stands in Goulburn Street and remains as a private residence although still proudly displaying  its Star Inn sign from a time during its life as an Inn. The building is still in very good condition and one can imagine the patrons entering the Inn to celebrate their sporting victories or to drown their sorrows after a gallant loss!

Main Text & Information Sources - 
"Here's Cheers" - C.J.Dennison
"Pubs In Hobart From 1807" - David. J .Bryce

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Green Ponds Store, Kempton

The Green Ponds Store was built about 1840 by William Henry Ellis, an emancipated convict who had been transported for embezzlement. Ellis amassed a considerable fortune and by 1843, he had built Dysart House, a grand coaching inn and his store. This store sold everything the local community needed, from ironmongery to ladies lace gloves. Butter for sale was supplied by Mrs Johnson of Lonsdale while such luxuries as wallpaper were all imported.

Buoyed by the success of his store, Ellis arranged for additions to be made to the store in 1852 which enlarged its overall floorplan by more than double. Following his death in 1860, the store continued to operate under the direction of Ellis' sons and operated well into the 20th century.

Unfortunately a fire in 1996 destroyed much of the building including Ellis' 1852 additions. At the southern end of the building is a large public well built by W.H.Ellis to help attract customers to the store.

The building is currently in private hands and it appears that a restoration program is well underway on the building.

Main Information Source - Interpretive Sign at the site.
B&W photograph - Tasmanian Archives - Green Ponds Store, Kempton

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

John Lee Archer's Burial Site

John Lee Archer (1791-1852), architect and engineer, was born on 26 April 1791, the only son of John Archer, an engineer of County Tipperary and Dublin, Ireland, and his wife Charlotte, née Lee, formerly of Kent, England. From 1809 to 1812 he was trained in the office of Charles Beazley, a London architect, and then worked for five years under John Rennie, who designed the London, Waterloo and Southwark bridges across the River Thames. Returning to Ireland, Archer spent the next eight years on architectural and engineering works, including the Royal Canal, Dublin.

On 2 December 1826 he was appointed by the secretary of state for the colonies 'to fill the situation of Civil Engineer in Van Diemen's Land'. Arriving at Hobart Town in the Langin August 1827, he was instructed by Lieutenant-Governor (Sir) George Arthur to take up the duties of civil engineer and colonial architect. He served in those capacities for eleven years, in the first nine being responsible for all government buildings including those for penal and military purposes.

Among the buildings designed by Archer are Parliament House, (formerly the Customs House), the public offices used by the Treasury and the Audit Department in Hobart, the Ordnance Stores in Salamanca Place, several buildings at Anglesea Barracks; St John's Church with the orphan schools and the parsonage at New Town; the nave of St George's Church at Battery Point; Old Trinity (the Penitentiary Chapel) in Hobart; St Luke's Presbyterian Church at Bothwell, St Luke's Church of England at Richmond, the gaol and gaoler's house at Richmond, and parts of the gaol in Campbell Street, Hobart.

St Luke's Church, Richmond
Parliament House, Hobart
In the engineering field his outstanding work was the stone bridge which still carries the road from the Midland Highway over the Macquarie River into Ross. With a committee he prepared in 1827 a plan for improvements to Sullivan's Cove which laid down the main lines for development of the port of Hobart. On another committee in 1835 he provided designs for the causeway in the River Derwent at Bridgewater.

Richmond Gaol
Ross Bridge
Archer's buildings possess the virtues of simplicity and good proportion, combined with a satisfying sense of stability. His public buildings in the Georgian Renaissance manner contribute to the interesting architectural character of the city of Hobart. While there was no doubt about Archer's architectural skills, the Governor expressed some reservations about his administrative and supervisory capabilities. In the early years Archer relied on unqualified and often unskilled workmen and was assisted by only one clerk.

In 1832-3 around 200 artisans were attracted to the colony with a 20 pounds contribution towards their fare. Archer designed the east and west wings for the Richmond Gaol as well as the gaoler's house (1832). His work included government stores and churches, which were built by the government in the early days.
Archer was married on 3 September 1833 to Sophia Mattinson of Hobart and made his home at Jutland, off Augusta Road, New Town.

After the arrival of officers of the Royal Engineers in Van Diemen's Land in 1836, works for military purposes were taken over by Captain Roger Kelsall. Two years later, as a measure of economy, Lieutenant-Governor Sir John Franklin abolished the position of civil engineer and colonial architect, giving its remaining duties to the director-general of roads and bridges. Archer was retrenched in 1838, and reminded the authorities that he had been appointed on a salary of 500 pounds for life, subject to his good behaviour. In October 1838 Archer accepted an appointment as police magistrate for the district of Horton. He filled this office, living at Stanley, until his death on 4 December 1852. He was survived by his widow, two daughters and several sons. His grave is in the Church of England section of the cemetery at Circular Head in the shadow of The Nut.

Main Text & Information Source – 
Australian Dictionary of Biography - John Lee Archer
Updated 7 Jan 2016