A Brief History of South Hobart

For a more comprehensive history, see Beneath the Mountain

Settled by the merchant and professional classes, who wanted to get away from the noise and smell of Hobarton, South Hobart is Hobart's first suburb. Up until 1857, the town boundary was at Elboden Street (formerly El Bodon Place ). Further development, towards Degraves Brewery at The Cascades, was blocked by Birch's Farm: "the hundred acre farm", which extended from Davey Street to Salvator Road, and from Elboden Street to D'Arcy Street. Dr. Thomas William Birch (1774-1821), surgeon, merchant and ship owner, arrived in Hobart Town in May 1808, as medical officer on the whaler, "Dubuc". He was one of three surgeons in the Town, but did not practice (Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol 1, p. 104). Birch thrived in the infant colony. He became sufficiently wealthy, through land speculation, to build "Macquarie House", which still stands today at 151 Macquarie Street. The house was sufficiently splendid for Governor Macquarie to choose to stay with Birch, rather than at the then inferior Government House, on his visit to van Diemen's Land. "Macquarie House" even sported its own cannon. Obviously, Birch did not consider the threat from foreign invasion sufficiently neutralised by the local armed forces! Birch's Farm was finally sub-divided on 1st November, 1838. The sub-division, into seventy-five lots, created a triangular piece of land bounded by Holbrook Place (now Davey Street) to the south-east, Macquarie Street to the north-west, newly formed D'Arcy Street to the west, and Elboden Street forming the apex of the truncated triangle. The original intention was to create half-acre "house and garden" allotments—true suburban development. However, due to depression and other circumstances, the original intention of the trustees of Birch's will was never achieved. Lots were sold off and further subdivided. This explains South Hobart's varying plot size: from large mansions, with spacious gardens, to small conjoined workers' cottages. This diversity of dwelling size accounts for much of the present-day charm of the suburb.



Notes for a walking tour of South Hobart for the Hobart/Macquarie Group of The National Trust of Australia (Tasmania).

(29th May, 1993)

Introduction and Acknowledgements:-

These notes are based on the records of the Registry of Deeds and the Lands Titles Office. I am grateful to Mr. Michael Dixon, the Recorder of Titles and Registrar of Deeds, for allowing the extensive access to these records that has been necessary to provide an understanding of the development from Birch’s Farm to (part of) the suburb of South Hobart. The title information has been supplemented by information from the photographic collections of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and the Archives Office of Tasmania. Some additional sources have been used in the preparation of these notes but much more research needs to be done. The purpose of these notes is to provide a framework for further research on the area and to provide a better understanding of the circumstances which created our heritage in South Hobart. To all those who have provided information, assistance and encouragement, I express my appreciation and thanks. © Kevin Green.

In 1857 the town boundary of Hobart Town was extended to include the area bounded by Elboden Place, Davey Street, D’Arcy Street and the Hobart Rivulet - part of “Birch’s Farm”, which had been sub-divided and first auctioned in 1838. In 1838 the western boundary of Hobart Town was formed by a farm which stretched from Davey Street to Salvator Road at the back of West Hobart - the eastern and western boundaries of this rectangular piece of land were Elboden Street and D’Arcy Street. What sort of farming activity was carried out would probably be impossible to say - probably very little; but in a newspaper cutting dated 5th February, 1915 a grandson (most likely Andrew Sutcliffe) claims that the timber for Macquarie House was obtained from this area.

Thomas William Birch (1774 - 1821), surgeon, merchant and ship-owner, arrived in Hobart Town in May 1808 as a medical officer in the whaler 'Dubuc' and remained as a settler. He was one of three surgeons in the Town, but did not practice to any extent in the colony. (Australian Dictionary of Biography Vol. 1, p. 104.) Further details of Birch’s activities in the Colony can be found in the Australian Dictionary of Biography's [ADB] article. That article notes Birch’s speculation in land - one such purchase was the hundred acres originally granted to Edward Lord by Governor Philip Gidley King in 1806 which became known as Birch’s Farm. Birch “died suddenly on 1st December 1821 at the age of forty-seven, leaving a complex will that was the subject of dispute until 1854”. (Australian Dictionary of Biography)

It was in November 1838 that, under direction of the Supreme Court, the Trustees of Birch’s estate first advertised for sale seventy-five lots - the sub-division of Birch’s Farm. This sub-division and sale plan is reproduced from the copy held by the Tasmaniana Library (see page 1) and clearly shows that the trustees (and perhaps the Colonial authorities as well) saw the potential of the area for suburban development.

’Suburban’ (the term is actually used on the 18412 census area map - R. Solomon; Urbanisation: the Evolution of an Australian Capital, p. 62.) had a distinctive meaning which is quite different from its current-day meaning. In 1838 the term implied small blocks for a house and garden and orchard; and this proposed development of Birch’s Farm continued the size of blocks already established in the area of Macquarie Street between Antill Street and Elboden Place.

Before discussing the sale, there are a number of points concerning the plan that should be noted. Firstly, the two storey conjoined houses “Fernleigh” built for James Alexander Thompson between 1844 and 1848 appear on this auction plan; however, this is a sketched addition to the plan. The only existing building noted on the plan is the Tannery at the bottom of Anglesea Street; the description of Lot 49 includes for sale the “Tannery and Fellmongering Building”. This reference and the notes in the next paragraph would seem to solve the mystery as to the location of Hodgson’s Tannery to which Rayner refers (Hobart Rivulet Study, 1988 p. 25-26). Note also the mill race, and the water supply line to the Barracks. The sale itself was certainly not a simple affair.

The Crowther Collection in The State Library of Tasmania has another copy of the 1838 sale plan along with catalogues and plans of later sales; this copy signed by Andrew Sutcliffe. Dr. Crowther has added a note indicating that the Andrew Sutcliffe was a grandson of T.W. Birch “and it was at the death of his daughter, Miss Emma Sutcliffe, of Adelaide Street, Hobart in 1937 that I purchased this book”. The Crowther copy of the sale plan and the notes contained with it fills in some of the story of the sale.

The sale was first advertised for 9th November, 1838 but legal proceedings caused the sale to be re-advertised for 25th February, 1839 at which time sixteen blocks only were sold. The rest were re-advertised for sale on 27th March, 1840. Some idea of the complexities of the sale can be seen in the arrangements entered into by Edmund Hodgson with the Trustees concerning his purchase in 1840 of the Tannery and the “Islington” properties.

In a long deed registered in the Registry of Deeds and dated 22nd February, 1842, reference is made to the sale of the Tannery in 1839 when John Moses, merchant of Hobart Town, was declared the highest bidder (£325/2/- of which £48/16/- was paid by way of deposit). The deed recites that no further payments had been made and that Hogdson had purchased the Tannery, the Islington property, much of the hillside of Birch’s Farm plus some of his Macquarie Street property (near Victoria Street). The price offered by Hodgson was £3,885/4/7 of which £582/7/6 was paid by way of deposit, but that no further payments had been made, and in 1842 arrangements were made which effectively provided Hogdson with a lease of the properties.

The plan was extensively modified for the further attempt to sell the property on 29th November, 1844; subdividing many of the original lots; extending Adelaide Street through to D’Arcy Street; and creating Lord Street (later renamed Wynyard Street), and a further sale was advertised for 9th March, 1847.

It was a measure of the depressed economic conditions that the 1840, 1844 and 1847 sales failed to finalise the estate, so that in 1849 arrangements were made with the Trustees to enable grants to parcels of land to be made to nominees on behalf of the beneficiaries for later sale (sometimes sub-division and sale). Maybe there were also difficulties with the titles. If so, for our purposes, it provided something of a benefit – as the Government issued new grants for lots which had been parts of Birch’s Farm.

The plan of the grants issued by the Crown is the second plan. We can recognise, for example, Lots 18, 20 & 20A as grants to Andrew Crombie, Eliza Watkins and Richard Jones respectively, but Lots 23 & 23A formed a single grant to Robert McCracken, and the remainder of the Adelaide/Weld/Davey/Anglesea block (Lots 19,21,22 & 24) was granted to Thomas James Crouch and Robert Worley (one of the nominees granted land to enable the estate to be finalised) to form a grant nearly three acres in area (which became “Toogooloowa” ).

The same gentleman gained a grant of more than four acres by the amalgamation of Lots 25, 26, 29, 30 & 31 (the “Islington” property). This amalgamation process allowed the development of the large mansions matching those on the other side of Davey Street, or Holebrook Place, as it was usually known. Twelve examples have been selected from the Plan of grants to explain how the 1838-1847 sales and subsequent sub-division of these grants has influenced the development of this part of South Hobart. This process helps to explain the building and streetscape development and also provides a framework for this South Hobart walk.

1. This example embraces the whole of the block bounded by Elboden, Davey, Weld and Adelaide Streets. Lot 1 on the 1838 sale plan represents the “ideal” of a house and garden. In 1846 the block was advertised for sale as follows:- "Lot III Embraces that well-finished Dwelling-House in the occupation of the American Consul; it consists of eight rooms besides out-offices, sheds, etc; a yard well enclosed with fence and gates 7 feet high, and a large garden stocked with the choicest fruit trees. The whole let on a lease of seven years at £50 per annum".

The block was to remain in that house and garden form until 1918 when it was sub-divided and the two properties facing Elboden Street sold off and built upon. The back blocks were initially added to the “Ashleigh” property but later sold off again and 2 Adelaide Street constructed in about 1922. 285 Davey Street was not built until 1988. But Lots 2 & 6 were amalgamated to form a grant of 2a 0r 6p to Henry Whyte. There are, in fact, two Henry Whytes – father and son – described as Merchants, and in the late 1840s they appear to be residing in London. But, in any case, Henry Whyte was acting under a power of attorney; the real owner was John Pearson Rowe, and it is on behalf of that gentleman that Messrs. Lowes and MacMichael, Auctioneers, in 1846 advertises for sale “the Gothic-built Cottage and neat garden ground”; “An excellent piece of Garden Ground immediately in the rear of [the land with gothic cottage] with stable on it” and “eight allotments of Building ground” with frontages in Davey, Adelaide and Elphinstone (Weld) Streets. The Gothic-built Cottage and neat garden ground did sell in 1847 but the rest of the block seems to remain undivided until 1877 when Thomas Stephens, “Chief Inspector of Schools” and later Director of Education, purchased the land along Elphinstone Street and John Watchorn acquired the remainder amalgamating it with the 1847 sale and developing the “Ashleigh” property.

Although Thomas Stephens owned this land from 1877, he was, perhaps, more concerned with the development of land on the other corner of Weld and Davey Streets – and the construction of the Henry Hunter-designed “Raalangta”. Thomas Stephens seems to have moved away from the area in 1896 returning in 1906 when he took up residence in the newly constructed 297 Davey Street.

Stephens sold off the corner block (Adelaide and Weld Street) to his successor as Director of Education, W. T. McCoy, for the construction of 20 Adelaide Street (note that the numbering is suggestive of a sub-division on the even-numbered side matching the odd-numbered side); and just to prove how valuable that site was for top educationalists, the next owner of this property was McCoy’s successor as Director of Education, George Vickers Brooks.

The remaining sub-division of the Weld Street side was in the 1930s with the construction of 3 Weld Street. To return to “Ashleigh”: the first thing to note is the absence of the Gothic-built Cottage and the Stables – presumably to make way for Watchorn’s construction in 1879 of the Henry Hunter-designed mansion. A 1918 sketch plan on the back of the title notes the Row of trees along the fence line from about the top double gates, and a gate in the back fence; so it is not altogether surprising that Mrs Barclay sold off the land above the row of trees, leading to the construction of 291 Davey Street, and, later, land in Adelaide Street upon which the two cottages 8 and 10 Adelaide Street were built in about 1924.

The sale of 291 Davey Street seems to be designed to allow the purchase of the two blocks which became 285 Davey Street and 2 Adelaide Street thus extending the front garden of “Ashleigh”; but one wonders at the circumstances which dictated the sales of 4 and 6 Adelaide Street (the later by dividing off the Servants Quarters of Ashleigh).

2. For the next example we move across Weld Street to Lots 20 (20 & 20A in the 1844 sale) and 18. We might note, almost in passing, that the grants to Richard Jones and to Eliza Watkins (formerly Eliza Sutcliffe née Birch) have not been further sub-divided following the division of Lot 20 in 1844; but neither have they followed the “house and garden” idea. Rather, these larger blocks have become the grand house – both to Henry Hunter designs: “Raalangta” and All Saints’ Rectory (1887). There is some evidence that for the Old Rectory (4 Weld Street), at least, there was an earlier building of more modest design and construction which was demolished to make way for a residence suitable for the Rector of what was, by the 1880s, a very diverse parish, but these two houses along with “Hillcrest” on the Davey/Anglesea Street corner are typical of the development taking place along the Davey Street side of the Suburb.

Lot 18 forming the grant to Andrew Crombie and situated on the corner of Adelaide and Weld Streets is another of the “house and garden” blocks which remained that way for some fifty or so years and then gave way to sub-divisions for housing. Ownership of this property was more usually associated with the Birch family. Owners included Sarah Hodgson, Eliza Watkins and the Misses Sutcliffe (Fanny and Emma). Although the house on the corner is much altered, it can still be seen as what it was originally – a modest four room house with attics on what was a comfortable house and garden block.

And so it remained until about 1900 when two Victorian style houses (Nos. 28 & 30) were constructed on the Adelaide Street frontage to be followed by another sub-division allowing the construction of No. 26 in about 1915.

3. For the next example we move across Adelaide Street to another grant that can be identified with Lot 17A on the 1844 modified sale plan – this time of 0a 1r 5p granted to John Norton. This block almost certainly was first developed on the “House and Garden” model but, in December 1888, was sold for £150 to Thomas Dillon, a contractor. It was Dillon who was responsible for the three almost identical cottages Nos. 23, 25, & 27 Adelaide Street. These cottages are ‘Classified’ by the National Trust of Australia (Tasmania), along with No 22 opposite and the 1905 constructed double storey brick house.

4. So far the examples have concentrated on the original idea with later modifications or amalgamations, but there were others who saw quite different potential.

Lot 10 of the 1838 Plan was sub-divided in the 1844 sale plans, Lot 10A becoming the corner of Elphinstone (now Weld) and Macquarie Streets. The grant of 0a 1r 4p was made to John Sanders in September 1848 but even by then it would appear that the property was divided and a number of building erected. When Sanders sold the corner section in October 1850, it was described as having: “four messuages or Cottages” on it – and it doesn’t take much imagination to discern today these four “cottages, Messuages, or tenements”, especially when viewed from Weld Street.

The separate cottage (now 394 Macquarie Street) is not so easy to discern, but the roof line and quorns are indicators of the early construction of this cottage. Another (possibly similar) cottage has been replaced by something more modern.

5. The grant to J & J Moir seems to have been in some dispute, as later title references refer to land “claimed” by J & J Moir, but the sale price of £75 when the land was sold to Phillip Allen in 1852 strongly suggests that cottages had been constructed by that date. Further detail is given in 1857 when “6 brick cottages or dwelling houses” are constructed on the Macquarie Street side of the property and “4 brick built cottages” on the Adelaide Street frontage. We would all recognise the heritage value of the conjoined cottages in Macquarie Street (368 to 378); indeed, they have already been Classified by the National Trust of Tasmania  – but what of the Adelaide Street equivalents?

The conjoined brick cottages had been demolished before 1905 and were replaced by 1920s buildings; built as a pair (3 & 5). Curiously, the weatherboard conjoined cottages at 7-9 Adelaide Street were not replaced but rather “modified” to give them a 1920s appearance. The grant to Geo. Lawrence (which amalgamated Lot 9 with part of the original Lot 8 when that lot was sub-divided in 1844) was developed on the Macquarie Street side by separate cottages, but it has not been established whether or not there was any development on the Adelaide Street side prior to the sub-division and ‘spec-built’ development of 11, 13 & 15 Adelaide Street in 1891.

6. Francis Loftus Hursey, born in New Zealand in 1835, received the grant of part of the original Lot 65 in 1877. There had been an earlier grant of this land (0a 1r 13p) on the comer of Macquarie and Lord Street (Lord Street – later Wynyard Street – having been formed with the revised sale plan in 1844) which had reverted to the Crown, and Hursey probably purchased the lot at an auction of Crown Land. The sale price was £80 which suggests that a house was already on the property - the appearance of the house now down Wynyard Street certainly suggests construction prior to 1877. So this was a “house and garden” block and it seems that some of the original fruit trees are still evident. In 1911 two lots fronting Macquarie Street were divided off for Hursey’s two sons (Edward Francis Hursey and James Alexander Hursey). The property number 401 Macquarie Street was transferred from the original residence to James’ residence on the corner of Wynyard and Macquarie Streets. Did Edward construct a residence at 403 Macquarie Street? There is evidence of a garage but no house; although the houses on either side have parapet walls for fire protection – or did they? Surely it is a “Clayton’s” parapet wall that has two windows in it.

In 1933 a further block was divided off and transferred to one Charles Arthur Shackcloth and his wife Mary Patricia. It came as no real surprise to find that Mary Patricia Sackcloth’s maiden name was Hursey; she being the daughter of James. Francis Loftus Hursey died on the eighth of August, 1927. Following his death, it would appear that Edward moved to the old house at 4 Wynyard Street – certainly that is the address given at the time of his death in 1949. The property then passed to Edward’s son, William Joseph, and following his death to William’s brother and his wife – the present owners and occupants of 4 Wynyard Street. So here was a “house and garden” lot which was sub-divided in 1911 and 1933 to provide residences for two generations of the Hursey family; and part of the land is still in the hands of the family today.

7. Most of the one acre grant to John McGrath, which forms the block bounded by Macquarie/Anglesea/Drummond/Downie Streets, together with the grant on the town side of Downie Street, was sold in 1851 to a builder, Joseph Bosswood. It would seem that Bosswood was responsible for the construction of the Mountain Retreat Hotel on the corner of Macquarie and Anglesea Street and the cottages fronting Macquarie Street. Some early buildings have disappeared to make way for the Macquarie Street School, a National Trust Recorded building constructed in 1895 to a design by Henry Hunter. Moving up Anglesea Street and above Drummond Street we have a grant to John McGrath which became another of these “house and garden” lots, sub-divided in 1913 when the original house was split off and the remainder purchased for housing development by George Bennett, a builder. Bennett, it would appear, was responsible for the houses in Anglesea Street, but he sold the Paget/Downie Street section in 1916, and the housing (3 houses) on this portion of the original block was developed by Ronald Manson.

8. Lot 50 of the original sale plan was one of a number that was not sold – and was to form part of a grant to Henry Birch under the agreement to enable the estate to be finalised. There is reference to a cottage (most likely 447 Macquarie Street) in 1863 when an arrangement was made for the construction of a number of cottages, seemingly to provide an income for Henry Birch’s widow. An 1866 plan of Hobart shows Birch’s Lane and the cottages. Further sub-division of the land occurred early this century, but the eight cottages along Birch’s Lane (later called McKenzie Street) have made way in the early 1960s for the expansion of the South Hobart Primary School.

9. William Birch, one of the sons of T. W. Birch, obtained the grant to almost the entire block bounded by D’Arcy, Adelaide, Anglesea and Macquarie Street (a total of more than seven acres) as part of the 1849 arrangement to finalise the estate. William Birch was responsible for the creation of Denison Street (did he seek the Governor’s permission to so name the street?); selling off the D’Arcy Street block so created to builders John and Robert Meikle. There was some development along the Macquarie Street side of the block but the initial development of the central portion of the block dates from the 1880s (with some “infill” buildings). Michael Haney obtained the Adelaide Street ‘third’ of the block in 1878, and the area appears to have been used in connection with his dairy. Haney died in 1899 and the land was to pass (1903) into the hand of a builder, William Duncan, and it was Duncan who was responsible for the construction of the terrace houses in both D’Arcy and Denison Streets and single dwellings, notably those on each corner (Nos 67 & 69 and 77 Adelaide Street). Birch had sold off the land on the town side of Denison Street to Charles Toby and James Park in 1853, and they, in turn, “laid out a portion of the land so conveyed to them to be used as streets one such street being the width of Thirty feet or thereabouts and extending from Anglesea Street aforesaid South Westerly to Denison Street aforesaid and being called John Street the other of such streets being called New Street”. John Street is now Hennebry Street and the unimaginatively named New Street now Cameron Street.

10. The Hobart Town Courier of 6th May, 1846 advertised the sale: Lot I A newly erected two-storey Brick House situated at the corner of Macquarie Street, on which the allotment has a frontage of 210 links, and on Elboden Place 75½links: it was built for an hotel, and contains nine rooms, kitchen, servant’s room, and large cellars. The building is comprised of the best materials, well finished, hung with bells, etc. There is also on the same property, a four-stall stable, built recently of brick, lined with pine, commodious loft, and finished in the best manner, together with large yard. The whole enclosed by a two-feet thick stone wall, with an extensive piece of garden ground, the whole being let to a respectable tenant at £60 per annum. Lot II Comprises the piece of Ground next the hotel, and fronting Adelaide Street 198½ links, and Elboden Place 124 links, well enclosed with two-foot thick stone wall and paling fence. These two lots were Lot 6 on the 1838 and later sale plans of Birch’s Farm, but the actual division of the title to this block of land was not made until 1897. Despite this sale, 336 Macquarie Street (since demolished) was built circa 1900 on a lot which extended to Adelaide Street. The Adelaide Street section was sub-divided in 1925 and No. 1 Adelaide Street constructed in 1927. No. 18 Elboden Street (of late Victorian style) and 20 Elboden Street (Federation style) were both constructed circa 1903. 11. In 1844 the sale plan was redrawn to provide for Adelaide Street to extend to D’Arcy Street. The resultant block (bounded by Davey, D’Arcy, Adelaide and Anglesea Streets) was to form four grants: one the “Islington” property and the remainder in three grants to James Alexander Thompson. In an article in the Australian Dictionary of Biography (Vol. 2, pp. 527-8), Thompson’s career is summed up as follows: Whatever his merits as architect, and they are relatively minor, Thompson provides a remarkable case of a former convict establishing himself as a successful businessman, despite his small estate, respected in many circles and with a considerable variety of commercial activities and social interests. Our present interest in Thompson concerns his use of these grants. Between 1844 and 1848 “Fernleigh” was constructed on Lot 27. The area of Adelaide Street between D’Arcy and Anglesea Streets was subject to much sub-division and the construction of small residences. A number of these remain (the conjoined residences Nos. 58 & 60) and the narrow-fronted single residence (No. 70). As the character of the suburb has changed, many of these cottages have been replaced – sometimes by excellent examples of residential development (e.g: the Federation-style No. 56 Adelaide Street) but sometimes also by more unsympathetic development. 12 The small cottage, No. 2 Paget Street, was built on land acquired in the mid-1840s by Charles Skerrett. Skerrett, described variously as a “miller” and a “general dealer”, did not prosper, was declared insolvent, and was “now of parts beyond the seas” in 1847 when his property was sub-divided and sold. James Cowgill, a fellow miller, was the purchaser of the land on which No. 2 Paget Street now stands. We can date the construction of the dwelling house fairly accurately for, on 1st December, 1849, Cowgill sold the land to Horace Cooley (a builder living at “the Cascades near Hobart Town”), part of the consideration being “the erection of a dwelling house and other improvements made by the said Horace Cooley at his own cost”. Some General Comments When the sub-division of Birch’s Farm was first advertised for sale in 1838, Hobart Town was bounded on the West by that farm and on the north by Arthur Street. The sub-dividers (and the town authorities as well) saw the town boundary remaining – there was plenty of space for development of town housing within the existing area, including new ‘development’ areas such as the sub-division of the Macquarie Hotel area (originally Birch’s house in Macquarie Street) and later Battery Point. Birch’s Farm and the area north of Arthur Street were to be “sub-urban” developments; lots of half and acre up to six acres; and in the South Hobart area these were uniformly half acre (or thereabouts) lots on the Davey Street side of Macquarie Street with one acre (or thereabouts) lots between Macquarie Street and the Rivulet. In the economic climate of the times, the developers were unable to sell their idea – even when in 1844 and, again, in 1847 the plan was modified. The purchasers had other ideas and, by the mid 1850s, the South Hobart area had become a mixture of sites for ‘grand houses’, especially along Davey Street (by this time mostly referred to as Holebrook Place), small tenements along Adelaide And Macquarie Streets (and particularly in the Paget/Drummond/Denison Street area), as well as the envisaged ‘house and garden’ sub-urban ideal. But all the sites were based upon the original lots as advertised for sale; grants being made on the basis of the lot or an amalgamation of lots. It was the very size of the lots combined with the location (and later the tramway and sewerage) which was to attract ‘developers’ of which the 1850s tenement buildings and small cottages were the first. Sub-division and ’development’ has taken place ever since, but, with blocks of half an acre or more, there was potential for the construction of groups of two or three houses frequently retains the original residence. Thus, the streetscape can show marked variations in housing style. Perhaps this might be illustrated by reference to Adelaide Street. A Victorian-style residence (but built circa 1903) is on the corner facing Elboden Place. No. 1 Adelaide Street is an ‘infill’ residence constructed in the 1930s. Nos. 3 and 5 Adelaide Street were constructed (as a pair) in 1924 at which time the original 7-9 double cottage was ’modernised’ as a single residence (now No. 7 Adelaide Street) and given a 1920s appearance. Nos. 11, 13, and 15 Adelaide Street were built in 1891, and the present No. 17 Adelaide Street, obviously built in the 1950s, replaces a residence which certainly existed at the turn of the century, and might well have existed prior to the 1838 sale plan. I base this observation on the fact that this lot was not included in the grant made in the 1840s but rather describes the land a being “Part of the Location to Edward Lord”, thus referring back to the initial land grant of 1806. There is no No. 19 Adelaide Street (perhaps there never was), and No. 21 Adelaide Street, despite its appearance, was not built until 1905. It was another of these sub-divisions – in this case the original cottage (“Worplesdon”) remains in Weld Street. Across Weld Street, we have the three cottages built in the 1880s by Dillon, and then a curious relic of the past: the Adelaide Arms. I say that it is a curious relic, as neither the 1838 Sale Plan nor the Sub-Division of Lot 9 in the 1844 Sale Plan refers to any building on the lot, yet it is generally believed that the Adelaide Arms Hotel was constructed in 1835 “if not earlier”. But, then, the Sale Plan also fails to take into account another small area of land which remained “part of the Allocation to Edward Lord”: the present 35 Adelaide Street. What lies behind that modern concrete block façade? We have all marvelled at the revelation that became 37 Adelaide Street – a stone built “Messuage” referred to as early as 1846 when the property was transferred by James Cowgill (miller of Macquarie Street) to Trustees to ensure a provision for Cowgill’s wife; these being the days before the Married Woman’s Property Act. 39 Adelaide Street was built about the 1890s. 43 Adelaide Street is turn of the century, but there was another (probably earlier) residence at the front of the block. The two 1950s houses on the corner of Adelaide and Anglesea Streets replace earlier cottages which were on a similar basis to the remaining cottages on the other side of the road opposite Cameron Street. Two of these cottages were demolished about 1940 and the other two remaining until about 1953. Across Anglesea Street we now have St Francis Xavier Church in what was the Garden of the present Presbytery – a house built in 1891. Joseph Green purchased the lot creating the corner of Adelaide and New (later Cameron) in 1853, and it was Joseph’s nephew, William Henry Winch, who constructed the house which he named “Connemara” after the birthplace of his wife’s mother. The basic contract for the house “with shingle roof” was £397 (and additional £28 for a slate roof – which did exist), but there were many extras involved even in 1891 in the construction of a house (as you can see from the Memorandum of Costs reproduced below). A 1950s house occupies the land between Cameron and Denison Streets. On the other side of Denison Street, we have a house which advertises the date of its construction (1904), two constructed in the 1930s and finally, another built around the turn of the century. (Of interest, in passing, is the fact that the two houses which make up the entrance to Adelaide Street at the D’Arcy Street end were both constructed at the same time yet one reflects Victorian design principles and the one opposite has been cast in the newer Federation style.)


Bolger, Peter: Hobart Town, The ANU Press, Canberra, 1973.

Rayner, Tony: The Hobart Rivulet Historical Study, City of Hobart, 1988.

Solomon. R.J: Urbanisation: the Evolution of An Australian Capital, A & R Publishers, Sydney, 1976.

Hobart Urban Conservation Study Stage 2, Hobart City Council.

Valuation Rolls (Hobart Town Gazette). - Wise’s Tasmanians Post Office Directories.

© Kevin Green 27th May, 1993.