Despite the large number of ships docking at the port of Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) from the beginning of the 1800s to the 1850s, whether bringing convicted criminals under sentence of transportation, or merchandise for the settler population, there was no patent slip where ships via South America and South Africa could safely be repaired after such long voyages of four months or even longer. Captain Edward Goldsmith used the patent slip at Sydney Cove NSW on return voyages from Hobart to London via Sydney for the repair of his ships during the 1830s, 1840s and 1850s. While on an extended stay with the Parrock Hall from London to Sydney in November 1844, departing January 1845, he drew up a proposal for a patent slip at Hobart to be presented to the colony’s governor Sir William Denison who reviewed it in 1849, and suggested it would best be situated behind the Commissariat Stores, the site now part of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Historic Precinct.
State Library of NSW
Patent slip belonging to the Australian Steam Navigation Co.
Digital Order Number: a353001
Creator Garling, Frederick, 1806-1873
Date of Work ca. 1859-1871
Call Number DGD 3
Presented by Sir William Dixson, 1951
The patent slip at Sydney was used by Hobart ship owners the Maning Brothers for coppering and repairs. F. A. Maning was a neighbour of Captain Goldsmith’s at Davey Street, Hobart. His conversion and non-return of a diving apparatus belonging to Captain Goldsmith for the salvage operation on the wreck of the Catherine Sharer in 1855 ended up in a Supreme Court trial.
“She was coppered and thoroughly repaired at the patent slip at Sydney about two years ago.“
Sale of the Lord Hobart by the Maning Brothers
The Hobart Courier Hobart 25th October 1848
ARRIVAL of THE PATENT SLIP
Arrival of Captain Goldsmith’s patent slip
Sydney Morning Herald 13 December 1849
The New Patent Slip has been brought out by Captain Goldsmith of the Rattler. It is capable of heaving a steamer of 1000 tons burthen, or vessel of 800 tons. Hobart Town Courier
Contractors for Captain Goldsmith’s patent slip
Colonial Times 29 July 1851
NOTICE TO CONTRACTORS
Tenders will be received at the counting house of the undersigned, until 12 o’clock on Friday, 1st August, for the works necessary in laying down a Patent Slip in the Government Domain.
Plans, specifications, and all necessary particulars, may be learnt on application to
Davey-street, July 4, 1851
THE FIRST SITE
This diagram shows the original shoreline, now the TMAG Historic Precinct. The site next to Numbers 1, 2 and 3, the Commissariat Store, the Bond Store, Courtyard and Water Gate, behind the Commissariat Treasury were considered to be the ideal site for a patent slip by the Governor, Sir Wm Denison in 1849. However, by 1851, with difficulties associated with modifications to the Old Wharf, the patent slip was relocated to the Queen’s Domain, on the foreshore of the Royal Botanical Gardens.
TMAG Information board nailed to the ground
Information board and Commissariat Store, TMAG Historic Precinct
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2014 Arr
THE DIRECTOR of PUBLIC WORKS Wm PORDEN KAY
Sir John Franklin’s nephew, William Porden Kay, was appointed to redesign the Royal Botanical Gardens in 1842. The intention was to include areas for public enjoyment beyond the purely economic and scientific purposes the gardens already served. He was the Director of Public Works in 1855 when he wrote the Report on Captain Goldsmith’s Patent Slip. The Report covers the years 1849 to 1855, from the first date of Captain Goldsmith’s proposal of a patent slip, to Captain Goldsmith’s receipt of timber in November 1854 on condition work started on the slip within six months. The report details the frustrations, delays, obstacles, objections and unreasonable conditions placed on Captain Goldsmith prior to his sale of his interest to the McGregor brothers..
William Porden Kay1842
Royal Botanical Gardens, Hobart Tasmania
Photos © KLW NFC 2014 ARR
MAPS of the Port of Hobart 1839 & 1854
Hobart and Domain 1839 (TAHO Collection)
Hobart Van Diemen’s Land 1854
Frankland’s Map, dedicated to Sir Wm Denison (TAHO Collection)
THE REPORT 1855
on Captain Goldsmith’s patent slip by Wm Porden KAY
State Library of NSW
Title: Report on Captain Goldsmith’s patent slip by the Director of Public Works, 1855
Creator: Kay, William Porden
Date of Work: 1855
TRANSCRIPTS and Photos Copyright © KLW NFC 2014 Arr
TRANSCRIPT Page 1
In 1849 Capt Goldsmith proposed the importation of a patent slip, and requested that a piece of ground might be allotted to him on which to place it. Sir Wm Denison in reply expressed himself so fully committed of the advantage that could accrue to the Colony by the erection of a patent slip for repairing vessels trading to the port, as to be willing to do every thing in his power to further so desirable an object, and suggested a site at the back of the Commissariat Treasury, to which Capt Goldsmith agreed.
The terms on which this was to be granted were, 1st the ground to be leased to -
TRANSCRIPT Page 2
to Capt Goldsmith for 66 or 99 years at a nominal unit of 1/- per annum; 2nd that the patent slip should be erected thereon of sufficient dimensions for vessels between 600 and 700 tons; 3rd the Governor furthermore offered to fill in the ground to the required height, provide and drive the necessary piles and grant the loan of a diving Bell on Capt Goldsmith’s undertaking that all vessels belonging to the British Navy, to the Local Government or the Convict Dept., should be allowed the use of the Slip, at one half the charge to other vessels of equal tonnage.
In February 1849 Capt Goldsmith expressed his acquiescence in these terms and, in December 1849 reported the arrival of the Slip,
TRANSCRIPT Page 3
and again acquiesced on the conditions above mentioned, requesting that the Land fixed upon might be at once leased to him.
In January 1850 the Director of Public Works furnished a list of the piles required, with a statement of what their cost would be to the Government, including driving them and the filling in required, as previously agreed to be done by the Government, amounting to £1016.19.0. and in the same month a plan for the piling was arranged between the Director of Public Works and Capt Goldsmith, and submitted to the Lieut. Governor.
This having been approved, Capt Goldsmith was informed /in Feby 1850/ that the Government would at once commence driving the
TRANSCRIPT Page 4
the piles, but would not be bound to do so within a specified time.
The Director of Public Works was shortly afterwards /in May 1850/ directed to remove a portion of the Commissariat Wharf to make room for the Slip, and the Deputy Commissiary General was apprised that such had been done.
Between this period and January 1851, some negotiation took place as to a change of site considered necessary by the objections made by the Commissariat to their wharf being interfered with and by the works which His Excellency at that time contemplated for the formation of a dock behind the Commissariat. Capt Goldsmith was consequently compelled
TRANSCRIPT Page 5
compelled to seek elsewhere for a suitable site, and in January 1851 submitted a plan of one in the Domain which the Lieut Govenor agreed should be given up for the purpose, and ordered to be marked out, authorising Capt Goldsmith to occupy it until a Lease could be prepared.
On this being reported performed [sic ?] by the Director of Public Works, in February 1851, Capt Goldsmith stated his readiness at once to commence the work and submitted a tender which he had received for driving the piles, and as the Government, on a former occasion had agreed to perform this work for him, he requested that timber to the amount of the tender £325 might be given to him in lieu of such assistance. This
TRANSCRIPT Page 6
This proposition His Excellency would not at first entertain on the grounds that the stipulated assistance could be given to Capt Goldsmith at a much cheaper rate by the Government driving the piles themselves.
It however appeared on further consideration that the quantity of timber required by Capt Goldsmith would cost the Government only about £120, and they would be relieved from all responsibility as to the stability of work work executed by them. It was therefore on the 26. March 1851, agreed that the piles and timber, about 5000 cubic feet, should be given to Capt Goldsmith, as an equivalent for the non performance of every condition promised by the Government except the
TRANSCRIPT Page 7
the loan of the Diving Bell.
About this time also Capt Goldsmith again applied for a lease of the ground and in June 1851 submitted a draft lease of the allotment in question, which was referred for the opinion of the Director of Public Works and the Law Officers of the Crown. From the latter it appeared that various legal difficulties stood in the way of the execution of the lease, and here the subject appears to have dropped until October 1852, when Capt Goldsmith again applied for his lease, on which it was determined to nominate by Act of Council, some person as the Lessor of Crown Lands, who would then be in a position to grant the Lease in question
TRANSCRIPT Page 8
This decision was communicated to Capt Goldsmith in November 1852, informing him that in the mean time, he would be undisturbed in his possession as heretofore.
In October 1853 intimation was given to Capt Goldsmith that the Officers above named had been appointed and that the Lease could be at once executed, and on the 20 January 1854, the Crown Solicitor forwarded a counterpart of a lease which had been executed, and on which Capt Goldsmith was bound to complete the work by a certain period.
On the 9th November Capt Goldsmith applied for 12 months’ extension of this time on the following grounds. 1st that had His Excellency’s
TRANSCRIPT Page 9
Excellency’s intention to drive the piles for the Slip at the back of the Commissariat without delay as stated in the Col Scys letter of February 1850 been carried out, Capt Goldsmith’s part of the agreement could have been then at once commenced and completed before the discovery of gold in the adjacent Colonies had caused the enormous rise in the price of wages and materials which then took place.
2ndly the unavoidable delay which took place in the supply of the timber stipulated to be contributed by the Govt. 3rdly the failure of the parties with whom Capt Goldsmith had entered into the Contract for driving the piles, to complete such Contract, on the
Pages 10 and 11:
TRANSCRIPT Pages 10 and 11
ground of the delay in supplying the timber and the consequent measured rate of wages. And lastly the long period of uncertainty as to the lease of the site which to a certain extent prevented his entering into an other contract. Two very severe attacks of illness and family afflictions further contributed to retard Capt Goldsmith’s operation, and under the circumstances, his request was acceded to, on the Condition that the work should be commenced within six months of that date by Nov. 14th 1854.
The stipulated quantity of timber has now been supplied to Capt Goldsmith and his receipt for the same filed in the Office of Public Works,
TRANSCRIPTS and PHOTOS Copyright © KLW NFC 2014 Arr
State Library of NSW
Title Report on Captain Goldsmith’s patent slip by the Director of Public Works, 1855
Creator Kay, William Porden
Date of Work 1855
Type of MaterialTextual
Records Call Number Ak 12
Physical Description 1 folder of textual material (12 pages)
Administrative / Biographical Note
Master mariner Captain Edward Goldsmith (1804-1869) worked in Van Diemen’s land from 1830 to 1856 before returning to England.General
Maritime Names Goldsmith, Edward, 1804-1869
Subject Shipbuilding — Australia
Place Hobart (Tas.)
DISILLUSIONMENT and DEPARTURE
Failure of trust had marked Captain Goldsmith’s experiences with Hobartonians since the year of departure of his good friend, Lieutenant-Governor Sir John Franklin and his wife Jane Franklin in 1843. Sir William Denison, the Colony’s governor in 1849 was most enthusiastic about Captain Goldsmith’s plans for a patent slip, but the government’s refusal to recompense him fully for expenses in building the twin steamer the Kangaroo, had already led to major disappointment. The final insult came with the government not meeting their own terms of agreement in promising assistance to build the patent slip.
Then there was the Supreme Court trial in July 1855 with his neighbour, Mr. F. A. Maning over his neglect to return Captain Goldsmith’s diving apparatus imported at the beginning of 1855. Personal tragedy also beset him: his eldest son Richard Sydney Goldsmith, a clerk at the Union Bank, died of fever in August 1854, Hobart, aged 24 yrs. Even though Captain Goldsmith was absent for at least eight months of every year, departing London around August in the northern summer, arriving in Sydney and Hobart in summer in November, commanding fast traders, barques and brigs such as the Wave, the Janet Izzat, the Louisa and his finest, the Rattler, the local authorities in VDL unfairly expected his continuous and devoted attention to the construction of the patent slip despite the obstacles they placed in its execution.
By November 1855, and despite the all the admiration bestowed upon him over two decades for enriching the colony with the import and export of plants, livestock, agriculture, engineering and luxury items for its wealthy settlers, Captain Goldsmith began the process of selling up all property. His disillusionment with the Colony was considerable; losses both personal and financial could never and would never be compensated. He departed Hobart for London with his wife and only surviving son Edward Goldsmith jnr in February 1856, settling back at Gad’s Hill, Higham, Kent as a neighbour of Charles Dickens . His ties to his wife Elizabeth’s family in Hobart, however, remained strong. In his will on his death (1869), he bequeathed property in Kent to his nieces Mary Sophia Day and her sister Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day, wife of photographer Thomas J. Nevin, daughters of his brother-in-law Captain James Day, his First Mate and Navigator on voyages to VDL during the 1830s and 1840s.
Notice of Captain Goldsmith’s sale at the slip, Hobart Courier, 12th November 1855.
12th November 1855
TO SHIPBUILDERS, CONTRACTORS, AND OTHERS
Unreserved Clearing Sale of the well selected and thoroughly seasoned Gum, Planking, Knees, Treenails, English Pine Spars, Yards, Cut Deals, Huon Pine in Logs; also Pitch, New Ten-ton Launch, Punts, &c, &c,, at the Yard of Captain Goldsmith, Government Domain.
Without doubt, the major factor in Captain Goldsmith’s decision to leave Tasmania permanently was considerable monies owing to him by the Government for the construction of the twin ferry, the Kangaroo, and the reneging of agreements concerning the site location and lease, supply of timber and driving of piles for the patent slip. From late December through to February 1856, the colonial newspapers in Hobart, Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane made it known that the contractor, Captain Goldsmith, was paid in small amounts totalling less than £1000 in cash, plus £256 in timber, while his own outlay exceeded £6000 “without any charge for his own time, interest of money, use of yard etc“. The real costs to him personally, he claimed, were higher than £9400. The Colonial Secretary offered just £5000 to Captain Goldsmith and no more. The initial unrealistic estimate of £4000 by Sir William Denison, which paid a deposit on the machinery, the engineer’s dues and little else, was further compounded by inadequate supplies of timber from Port Arthur and Cascade due to scarcity of prison labor, a matter put to a Select Committee inquiry into corruption within the Convict Department. In total, the whole cost of this little ferry amounted to more than £17,629 (Sydney Morning Herald, 6 January, 1856). Captain Goldsmith left Tasmania grossly out of pocket and undoubtedly soured by memories of functionaries who had taken advantage of his generosity and good will.
Debts owing to Captain Goldsmith
Colonial Times, 21 December 1855
1866: The Patent Slip
Although the stereograph (below) bears Samuel Clifford’s label on verso, it was probably taken by his younger partner Thomas Nevin in the early 1860s, as were many of the prodigious output of stereos printed and stamped by Clifford in the decade 1868-78. Clifford may have reprinted it after 1876 when he acquired Nevin’s stock of commercial negatives while Nevin continued in civil service. Similar examples of Nevin’s stereographs reprinted as a single image by Clifford or vice versa are of the Salmon Ponds, The Derwent River at Plenty, and other commercially viable and touristically appealing scenic representations. However, this stereograph and the single image below were taken at different times and from slightly different vantage points, and while purporting to represent Government House, in fact both images foreground the patent slip as the stronger signifier. Nevin certainly had an interest in the history of this slip because Captain Edward Goldsmith was Elizabeth Rachel Nevin’s (his wife’s) uncle. He may have taken it to be forwarded to her uncle as a memento of troubled times
The figure of a man leaning against the tree near the fence in the stereograph is missing in the single image, as is the second barque, but all other details are identical. The single image was taken at closer range, suggesting two photographers and two cameras, spending an afternoon at the slip. Note that the single image does not bear Clifford’s name nor any photographer’s name, but is nonetheless attributed to Clifford by its inclusion in an album bearing his name.
Title: New Government House [from the Patent Slip]
Creator: Clifford, Samuel, 1827-1890
Publisher: [ca. 1865]
Description: 1 stereoscopic pair of photographs : sepia toned ; 9 x 18 cm. (mount)
Source: W.L. Crowther Library
Notes:Title printed on photographer’s label on verso
NB: image is color corrected for display here in this article
Title: Government House from the Patent Slip
In: Tasmanian scenes P. 4, item 8
Publisher: [ca. 1865]
Description: 1 photograph : sepia toned ; 11 x 19 cm
Source: W.L. Crowther Library
Notes: Title inscribed in ink below image ; date noted in pencil at lower right of image on album page ; item number noted in ink at centre left of image on album page
Exact size 105 x 184 mm
“Tasmanian scenes” also known as “Clifford album 1″
1880s: credit due to Captain Goldsmith
Details of the transfer of the lease of the patent slip from Captain Goldsmith to Alexander McGregor from the Launceston Examiner, 21 January 1881, were outlined in an article looking back at ship building in Tasmania.
Launceston Examiner, 21 January 1881
The twin steamer Kangaroo was built in the year 1854, under the immediate supervision of the late Governor Sir William Denison, R. E., by the late Captain Goldsmith, formerly of the London traders Waverley and John Izat, at the Imperial expenditure, regardless of cost. Her timbers, which (says the Mercury) are still as sound as ever, were the pick of the forests of Tasman’s Peninsula, and her machinery was the best of the day. She was designed for the purpose she still serves, as a huge floating bridge between Hobart and Kangaroo Point, and was built on that portion of the Queen’s Domain known as McGregor’s patent slip. During the progress of her building a long lease of the site was granted to Captain Goldsmith by Sir William Denison, on condition that he laid down what was then much needed – a patent slip. The conditions of the lease were, however, unfulfilled by him, but the hon. Alexander McGregor purchased Captain Goldsmith’s interest in the lease, and forthwith carried out its conditions by laying down the slip, now carried on by his brother, Mr. John McGregor, on the Queen’s Domain.
Title: “Waterwitch” cutting at McGregor Slip 1890
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
A brief history of the Patent Slip and other Hobart slips was published years later, in 1882:
“To Captain Goldsmith, who came to the colonies in charge of one of the London traders, the credit of introducing patent slips into Hobart is due.”
This is an excerpt from “Shipbuilding in Tasmania“, a detailed account of this patent slip written with the benefit of 30 years hindsight, and printed in The Mercury Friday 23 June 1882. Read more at this link.