In the year 1835, a few gentlemen interested in the welfare of seamen belonging to, or visiting Hobart Town, assembled at Dr. Boss's Library and Reading Room, Collins Street, when an association was formed under the designation of the Bethel Union, for the purpose of visiting the shipping, distributing religious pamphlets, and preaching to seamen of vessels in the harbor. In this work, ministers and others belonging to the different denominations took part.
In 1838, the then Lieutenant Governor, Colonel Arthur, granted the use of a building on the New Wharf, formerly occupied for government purposes, which was fitted up as a Bethel Chapel, and in which religious services were conducted on Sunday afternoons, for the especial benefit of seamen, the officiating ministers being those connected with the different churches of Hobart Town. The opening services at the Bethel were in April, 1838, when sermons were preached, in the morning by the Rev. W. Hurst, and in the afternoon by the Rev. Frederick Miller. Religious services for sailors were held regularly in the small stone building situated on the New Wharf, on one of the blocks of land in front of what was Messrs. W. D. Peacock and Co.'s jam stores. This place of worship was managed by the Hobart Town Bethel Union, who distributed pamphlets among the sailors, as well as holding special services for many years. The building, however, became so dilapidated, however, that it was decided to erect a new church.
In July 1861, a movement was commenced with a view to the erection of a more commodious Mariners' Church, in a suitable position, and at a meeting held in the Temperance Alliance Rooms on the 22nd of that month. Henry Hopkins, Esq., in the chair reported that the government had placed at the disposal of the Bethel Union an eligible site for the erection of such Church, namely, on a vacant piece of .ground, used by the Public Works Departments at the Franklin Wharf, on condition of an outlay of at least £1000. It was also intimated that Mr. Hopkins had generously offered to give the sum of £500 on condition that a like sum were subscribed by the citizens, within a year.
Resolutions were adopted to set the enterprise underway and the result was sufficiently encouraging to warrant the Committee to call for plans of the intended structure. Of the four plans supplied namely, those of Mr.Bastow, Mr. Cookney, Mr. Rowntree, and Mr. H. Hunter, the plans of the latter gentleman were accepted. Ten tenders for the erection of the Church were subsequently received by the Committee, of which that of Mr. Robert Priest was accepted, at £1450, being considerably in excess of the original estimate, but the tender being deemed to be suitable, Mr. Hopkins in the same generous spirit which had actuated his previous offer, expressed his willingness to increase his subscription from £500 to £750, subject to the like condition that an equal amount were collected from the inhabitants.
The dimensions of the ground given by the Government are 41 feet 11 inches on the Franklin Wharf frontage, and 61 feet, 3 inches on the Morrison Street boundary, the Elizabeth Street line is 84 feet 8 inches, and on the Western boundary on Crown Land, 92 feet 4 inches. The style of the proposed Church is Gothic, with an open roof, a principal entrance and lobby reached by stone steps from the Franklin Wharf .and a bell turret over the front gable. The area of the interior will be 52 by 29 with an ample retiring room, or vestry, at the northern end of the building to which there will be access by two doors from the Church, and an outer entrance from Elizabeth street.
The windows are to be plain Gothic, except the window of the retiring room, which will have tracery. Instead of the usual pulpit, there will be a raised platform, with a reading desk, adjoining the retiring room, the whole of which will be neatly railed off. The Church will be furnished with moveable benches with backs, capable of accommodating about 200 persons. The Church is to be built of brown stone with white stone facings on an excellent concrete foundation and the building will be enclosed with a neat fence.
The Foundation-stone of the church was laid on June 17, 1862, the ceremony being performed by the Governor of the Colony (Lieut-Colonel Gore Browne,C.B.) and the erection of the building was completed in the following year. It was officially opened on June 3, 1863, by the Rev. Dr. Nicholson and the first Sunday service was conducted in it four days later by Rev. D.C. Pritchard. The total cost had been £1,540, but such an excellent response was made to the appeal for funds, that by May, 1864, the building was entirely free of debt.
At a later date, Captain John Clinch was instrumental in having a striking clock placed in the church and this for very many years supplied the correct time to people about the wharves. Some years ago, however, a thief entered the building and removed the whole of the works, leaving behind only the dial and the hands, and unfortunately, all efforts to discover the identity of the criminal or the whereabouts of the works proved unsuccessful. After the completion of the building services were held in it every Sunday afternoon, being conducted in turn by clergymen of the Church of England and ministers of the various other protestant denominations.
For many years these were well attended by the crews of the vessels in port, the building generally being filled with sailors. In later years, however, the attendances began to fall off, this being due to the altered conditions of the trade of the port. With the passing of the sailing vessel and the introduction of the steamship it was found that vessels did not remain so long in port, and that whenever possible they avoided being in port on Sundays, owing to wharfage charges having to be paid while loading or unloading operations were not in progress. Owing to these changes it was ultimately found impossible to continue the services, and the trustees reluctantly decided to close the church.
The Hobart Marine Board, who were the owners of the Mariners' Church, Hobart, decided, owing to the old building having been vacated and the unlikelihood of its being again used for religious purposes, that it be let for use, either as a store or as offices. The building, as a church, has, therefore, practically passed out of existence, after a "career" of just over half a century since its construction in 1862. After some years of disuse it was let in 1906 to a small religious sect called The Brethren, who occupied it until the beginning of 1915.
As the building had practically outlived its usefulness, and was not being used for the purpose for which the Government originally granted the land for its erection, and providing religious instruction for sailors, the trustees decided to sell it and put the money to some better use and a special Act of Parliament, authorizing its sale to the Hobart Marine Board, was passed in 1915 and the property changed hands for the sum of £1100. The intention of the Marine Board was to erect on the property up to date office premises for its own use.
It was decided, however, to shelve this proposition until after the First World war, when it is to be proceeded with. By 1917, the Sandy Bay area was developing at a rapid rate and there was high demand for a new church. The Mariner’s Church was thus carefully dismantled the whole structure was relocated to the corner of Grosvenor & Lord Street in Sandy Bay where the church was completely rebuilt and renamed as St Peter’s Church. The building still stands and is wonderful condition. It is now the home of the Wellspring Anglican Church.
Christ College was opened on 1 October 1846 with the hope that it would develop along the lines of an Oxbridge college and provide the basis for university education in Tasmania. It was also intended to prepare men for the priesthood. The Hutchins School and Launceston Grammar were founded at the same time to act as feeder schools to the college.
The college's first ten years (1846-1856) were at Bishopsbourne, and there is still a sign there pointing to "The College". However, it never really developed as its founders hoped, and a depression in the colony, the remote site and financial problems led to its closure in 1856. The cedar mantelpiece in the computer room is the only reminder of the now demolished Bishopsbourne building.
The college re-opened in Hobart in 1879 in Macquarie Street, moving to the Hobart High School premises on the Domain on a seven year lease in 1885. There was an effort during the Macquarie Street/High School period to provide some form of higher education, but for most of the time the college was just another Hobart school, competing for students against schools like Hutchins and the Friends' School.
It did, however, offer some evening classes, which may have been for more advanced students. The lease was not renewed in 1892 because of the foundation of the University of Tasmania. The University moved into the High School buildings and the college closed. There had been a move to restructure Christ College as the new university, but this was defeated by the combined Presbyterian and Roman Catholic interests who were sensitive to what they perceived as an undue Anglican influence on education.
The college reopened in 1911 as the matriculation section of the Hutchins School in Macquarie Street. The accumulated college assets were used to build a special Christ College wing for the matriculation section, and to acquire the Holy Trinity Rectory in Park Street as a hostel for theological and other students. The college also had a very close association with St Wilfrid's College, the theological training college founded at 'Richmond Hill', Cressy, in 1904. The property was bequeathed to the Diocese by James Denton Toosey, one of the Trustees appointed after the college's closure at Bishopsbourne in 1856, with the request that it be used if possible for the revival of Christ College.
By the 1920's, St Wilfrid's College had run into difficulties, and at the same time Launceston Grammar protested that Hutchins, because of its close connection with the college, was receiving an unfair amount of the Christ College assets. Representations were made to Parliament, and the Christ College Act was passed in 1926, holding that the matriculation sections of Hutchins and Launceston Grammar were carrying out the secular academic intentions of the college's founders, and granting them each one third of the college's assets.
The remaining third, with the proceeds from the sale of the 'Richmond Hill' estate, was to be devoted to upgrading the Holy Trinity rectory site to "....provide for the training of young men in theological learning and Christian doctrine for admission to Holy Orders in connection with the Church of England in Tasmania and, as far as its means will allow, to provide for a college or hostel for students attending the University of Tasmania." The Warden of St Wilfrid's College, William Barrett, was appointed first Warden of the new college, and he and his five theological students and twelve university students moved into enlarged premises on the Park Street site.
In 1933 the College was formally affiliated with the university as it's first residential college. When the university moved to the Sandy Bay campus in the sixties, the college followed. The building was finally completed in 1971, when it also became the first Tasmanian college to take both men and women.
In December 1991, Christ College began a new chapter in it's long and significant story. The Bishop, the Board of Management and the Christ College Trust entered an agreement whereby ownership and management of the college passed to the University of Tasmania. The agreement provides for the continuation of the college in the full integrity of its Anglican traditions and heritage. In 1996 the college celebrated its sesquicentenary. The college is currently located on the University's grounds in Sandy Bay.
Side by side at Mount Nassau are two attractive houses of about 1830 or 1840 vintage. The main house is a two storey brick dwelling with a rather simple, classic Georgian design. Inside it has a characteristically small spiral staircase that is the bane of removalists of any era.
The 2nd dwelling appears even older than the main house. The original part of this structure is brick but had had stone additions over the years. Both houses have a panoramic view of the Derwent River, being perched atop a cutting through which the Lyell Highway passes on its way to New Norfolk.
The original grant was given to Ebenezer Geiss in the 1820’s. The property then extended through to the riverbank and was next door to Governor Arthur’s Derwent Valley Farm. Mount Nassau was bought by the Rathbone family in about 1913 and the family has continued to own the property ever since. Prior to coming to Tasmania, Frank Rathbone ran an ostrich farm in Port Augusta, SA.
Mount Nassau was particularly well endowed with a fine quality limestone. The Rathbones went on to quarry the limestone for many years and there is evidence of the old lime kilns still around and nearby the property. After the 2nd World war, the need for lime diminished although new markets for agricultural lime opened up afterwards.
Inspite of the property being so close to Hobart, the property is still operating as an agricultural farm and is the home of the Derwent Estate Winery.
Main Text & information Sources –
“From Black Snake to Bronte” – Audrey Holiday & John Trigg