Sunday, 15 January 2017

Bellkirk, Hobart

An impressive Colonial townhouse, this stone building of two storeys, Bellkirk,  was built as the manse for the nearby Presbyterian church of Saint John. The original front garden has now been given over to a bitumen carpark.

The property name could be pun on name of the minister as ‘Kirk” is a Scottish word meaning ‘church’ and the first minister was the Rev J.Bell. The building remains in church hands and is utilized as the church offices.

Main Text & Information Source –
Australian Heritage Database

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Auld Kirk, Sidmouth

The West Tamar Presbyterian Church, commonly referred to as the Auld Kirk (Scots for old church and 'Kirk' itself is a medieval word (It was introduced to Scotland by Viking settlers) and meant 'church' in Old Norse. This beautiful little church is situated on the bank of the Tamar River, north of the Batman Bridge

The church was originally built by convicts (who were housed at Blackwood Hills) and free labour. It is a simple Gothic rubble stone church and the building of the church was begun in early 1843 at the instigation of the Rev Alexander McKenzie and Mr James Reid of Richmond Hill. Rev McKenzie was the first minister appointed to the area and he was responsible for the building of the congregation while the church was being built.

He resigned in 1845 and returned to Scotland to be replaced by the Rev James Garrett who arrived in July 1846 and became the first minister to take a service in the newly completed church which was consecrated in 1846. Rev Garrett went on to serve the church for 28 years before passing away in 1874.

After a disastrous fire gutted the church in September 6th 1900, the church became known as “The Church with a tree”. There are various paintings of the church from this time which shows the tops of wattle trees growing inside the church above the walls. It is said that eight bundles of bark were stripped from them when they were finally removed.

In 1912, a petition was sent to the Presbyterian Assembly from Sidmouth, requesting 350 pounds for the restoration of the building. Unfortunately no money was forthcoming so the members of the West Tamar congregation raised the money needed and the church was reopened on May 4th 1913. In 1914, the Rev C.A Anderson came to the Auld Kirk but by 1920 he had resigned his position after a sharp decline in members. As a result the church was closed.

By December 1933, the church was re-opened and re-dedicated. In the following years, many ministers have come and gone but the “Little Kirk” on the banks of the Tamar River still stands today as a proud monument to the many men & women who worked hard to keep this beautiful little church open. The Auld Kirk was finally listed on the Australian Heritage Register in 1978. A beautiful little church to take the time to visit in a very picturesque riverside location.

Main Text & Information Source –
Auld Kirk Sidmouth Church Brochure

Historic Photos –


Sunday, 1 January 2017

Low Head Lighthouse

The Low Head Light Station was established in 1833. The original lighthouse was the second lighthouse in Tasmania and the third in Australia. The Light Station has been developed over a period of 170 years and includes a suite of buildings including the light house, various residential quarters, a fog horn building, former stables, workshops, a meteorological recording station and garages.

Low Head is associated with the earliest phases of European exploration and settlement in northern Tasmania. The current Low Head Lighthouse is located on the eastern side of the entrance to the Tamar River in Tasmania, about six kilometres north of Georgetown and fifty nine kilometres from Launceston. It was built in 1888, replacing an older lighthouse that was erected on this site in 1833.

The first recorded Europeans to enter the Tamar River were Bass and Flinders in 1798. Flinders noted that 'the entrance is certainly a dangerous one'. In 1804 Lieutenant-Colonel William Paterson established the first proper settlement in the region, relocating settlers and convicts from Norfolk Island and soon intermittent pilot services were established. By 1806, there were a total of 276 people around Port Dalrymple. The community was dependent for its very survival upon the safe passage of vessels from Bass Strait into the mouth of the river.

Low Head has played a fundamental role in the navigation of shipping in the Tamar River since these times, when the first navigational beacons were positioned in the channels at the mouth of the Tamar and a flagstaff was erected on the headland at Low Head. The construction of the first Low Head Lighthouse commenced in 1833 from a design by Colonial Government Architect, John Lee Archer which came as a result of a recommendation by the Government Committee for Pilotage in 1826.

Built predominantly of locally quarried stone, the tower was the only one of its type in Tasmania that incorporated two rooms at the base for keepers' accommodation. It was powered by a fixed light comprised of 25 small whale oil lamps with reflectors. These were replaced in 1835 by a new revolving lantern. The original Lighthouse was demolished in 1888.

The present lighthouse was completed later in 1888, at a cost of 1800 pounds for the tower and internal iron staircase. It was built to a design by the architect Robert Huckson. The lighthouse was provided with a light apparatus that comprised several panels of tin parabolic reflectors, each one fitted with an oil wick lamp, and mounted on a framework that was rotated at slow speed by a weight driven clockwork mechanism. In 1916, this apparatus was replaced by a revolving Chance Bros 375mm focal radius triple flashing apparatus and a 55mm incandescent kerosene burner, effectively increasing the power of the light from 2 000 to 90 000 candelas. A cast iron table pedestal and a mercury float pedestal were also installed in the lower lantern house.

In 1941, the light was converted to electric operation and the kerosene apparatus replaced by a 500-watt electric lamp, which provided a fourfold increase in the light's intensity. At the same time an electric motor was installed to rotate the lens in place of the clockwork mechanism. The light was further modernized in around 1988.  The building that is now referred to as the 'Old Quarters' was probably constructed during the 1880s or early 1890s. It may have been built as the First Assistant's Quarters, which is known to have been erected in 1891. It is currently used as an interpretive display centre, with one room set aside as a generator room for the lighthouse.

The lightstation precinct also contains a number of other buildings including the former Head Keeper's Quarters, built in 1891, and later used as Assistant Keeper's Quarters, Head Keeper's Quarters, built in 1941, and Assistant Keeper's Quarters, built in 1916. In 1929, the fog signal building was constructed. Uniquely, its signal apparatus remains substantially intact and in working order.

The lighthouse is owned and operated by the Australian Marine Safety Authority, while the remainder of the Light Station is managed by the Parks and Wildlife Service. The whole of the site is listed on the Register of the National Estate and on the Tasmanian Heritage Register.

Main Text & Information Sources –
Interpretive Signs at the Site
Australian Heritage Database

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Old Wool Factory, Hobart

In 1869, the Tasmanian Government had made an bonus offer of 1000 pounds for the first firm that was to make sales of 1000 pounds of woollen goods that were manufactured in Tasmania from Tasmanian grown wool.

The bonus appears to have been widely promoted and attracted Archibald & David Johnstone to head out to Hobart from Scotland in 1873. They became partners in a firm that was to establish the Waverley woollen mills at a premises on the outskirts of Launceston. They quickly went on to produce the required amount of woollen products and claim the bonus.

Archibald & David Johnstone moved to Hobart in 1883 and set up their first woollen mill in a factory in Gore St. By 1899, they had constructed an impressive new premises in Molle Street next to the Hobart Rivulet. The factory was powered by steam engines and it was said that the constant noise of the machines would fill the air with a deafening roar.

The building has survived and is preserved in fantastic condition to this day and is home to numerous small businesses and cafes and still is an impressive looking building.

Main Text & Information Source - 
"The Story of Central Hobart - Street By Street" - Donald Howatson 2015