GEORGE FRANKLAND surveyor and cartographer
SECHERON estate and patent slip
CAPTAIN EDWARD GOLDSMITH master mariner
Artist Joseph Lycett chose Mt. Nelson near Hobart as the perspectival point of this aquatint he executed from Mulgrave Battery ca. 1825. The deep inlet just beyond the couple in the foreground is Secheron Bay, devoid as yet of foreshore activity or development.
National Library of Australia
Creator Lycett, Joseph, approximately 1775-1828
Title Mount Nelson, near Hobart Town from near Mulgrave Battery, Van Diemens Land [picture] / J. Lycett delt. et execut
Call Number PIC Volume 1103 #S446
Created/Published London (73 St. Paul’s Church Yard) : Published by J. Souter, Feb.1, 1825
Extent1 print : aquatint, hand col. ; plate mark 23 x 33 cm.
Surveyor-General, George Frankland acquired seven acres of land at Secheron Bay on the south side of Hobart’s harbour from Robert Kermode in 1831, part of an original grant of 90 acres passed to Robert Kermode in 1824 from land held by Lieutenant-Governor Sorell. George Frankland built a large residence on the estate, Secheron House, which is still standing today, and offered parcels along his river frontage for sale to merchants and ship builders wanting direct access to private warehouses and wharves. He was accused of using the government resources of his office to personal advantage through these sorts of land deals (Colonial Times, 29 November 1836),
Detail of map (below) by George Frankland dated 9th July 1832, amended 12th July 1841, showing, from extreme left, his property of Secheron (in the present suburb of Battery Point), bordering a large strip of private land which in turn bordered on Crown Land where the Mulgrave Battery on the point and the Port Officer’s house were located. The strip of private land was offered for sale in 1836 with allotments for warehouse, wharf and patent slip development.
Map of Hobart by Surveyor-General George Frankland dated 9th July 1832, amended 12th July 1841
Archives Office of Tasmania
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 at Hobart where ships via South America and South Africa could be repaired safely after voyages of four months or longer. George Frankland clearly opined that the river frontage directly beneath his estate would suit the purpose. He drew up a map of his estate and marked the spot where the proposed patent slip could be laid down. The site is at the end of what is now Finlay St. Battery Point, adjacent to the A. J. White Park.
Detail of Secheron, estate of the late George Frankland, Surveyor-General, showing the suggested site for a patent slip.
Map of Secheron, estate of the late George Frankland, Sureveyor-General, showing the site of a proposed patent slip at right, and inset of allotments for warehouse and wharf development.
Archives Office of Tasmania, Estate and Allotments Plans, 1846-1851 Ref: NS596_1
George Frankland advertised the Public Auction of the wharf allotments to take place opposite his residence at Secheron, stressing their “peculiar advantages” to private mercantile interests.
Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 – 1857) Tue 12 Jan 1836 Page 2 Advertising
Sale of very valuable Wharf Allotments
MR. W. T. MACMICHAEL
Has the pleasure to announce, that on Friday the 29th instant, he will offer for sale by Public Auction on the premises, opposite the residence of G. Frankland, Esq.
FOUR Allotments of Ground, fronting on the “Derwent”, near Mulgrave Battery. These parcels of ground have been apportioned with a view to the construction of private Wharfs, and Warehouses on the edge of the water, and being the first allotments possessing such advantages that have ever been offered to the public, in any part of the Harbour, their value far exceeds that of any heretofore sold.
By the peculiar advantages of the situation, merchants building warehouses on this ground, will be enabled to lay vessels of large burthen alongside their Jetties to load and discharge, and will be secured from the great inconvenience and risk attendant on Public Wharfs.
Adjoining lot 1, of these allotments, is the only place in the Harbour calculated for laying down a Patent Slip.
TERMS. – A deposit of ten percent on the amount of the purchase money, to be paid at the time of Sale, and for the remainder a credit of ten years, bearing interest at ten percent, per annum, with the usual security on the property.
A ground plan of the lots, together with vertical sections of the soundings along the anchorage, may be seen at the Auctioneers.
N.B. – The title to the property is a grant from the Crown, free of Quit Rent.
The allotments at Secheron Bay were advertised again, this time for lease, as suitable for patent slips, ship-building, and careening (tidal) wharfs. In this advertisement the importance of the warehouse, also on offer, was stressed as shelter for oil casks during the “hot season“.
Source: The Hobart Town Courier (Tas. : 1827 – 1839) Fri 29 Sep 1837 Page 1 Classified Advertising
Valuable Wharf Allotments
Fronting on the Harbour
To be Let, for a term of years, several Wharf Allotments, in the Bay of Secheron, calculated either for ship-building, oil wharfs. warehouses, careening wharfs, or patent slips.
A Warehouse, measuring 80 feet by 25, adapted for oil or other colonial produce.
The great loss annually sustained by the exposure of oil casks on the public wharfs, during the hot season, renders this opportunity of securing commodious shelter and safety for that valuable staple, peculiarly deserving of the attention of merchants engaged in the oil trade.
For the purposes of ship-building, these grounds present a combination of facilities not to be found in any other part of the Derwent, as they have the united advantages of deep water frontage. shelter, gradual slope of bank, and centrical situation. Apply at the Courier office.
Surveyor-general George Frankland (1800-1838) wanted to leave the colony of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) by September 1838, feeling he had done his duty as map maker to settlers and administrators alike, somewhat tired of accusations that he was using the resources of his office for private gain. He advertised his house Secheron at Battery Point for sale in January 1838 but it did not sell, so in September he tendered it to the government for five years. He died within months, on 30 December 1838 from illness.
Frankland never seems to have thought of himself as a colonist, and soon after his appointment referred to it only as one ‘likely to detain me many years in this Colony’. He took a maximum land grant, but at the end of 1835 sought two years leave to visit Europe. It was postponed until 1838, when he appeared intent on leaving for good: in January he was advertising for sale his beloved house, Secheron, designed by himself on Battery Point. It did not sell and in September he tendered it to the government for five years. Read more at ADB here…
By 1840, the point at Secheron was offered to the local government for a new battery (Colonial Times, 6 October 1840), and by July 1845, the whole seven acres of the property known as Secheron, including the house and Mulgrave Signal Station were for sale (Courier 30 July 1845).
Secheron House, Battery Point, Hobart 1920s
Photographer: Frank Heyward (1876-1942)
Early Tasmanian Architecture [album 1]
Source: Archives Office Tasmania
Captain Edward Goldsmith arrived back at Gravesend, London in command of the barque Wave, 345 tons, on 12th February 1839, completing the round trip to and from Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) just in time to see his dying father, Richard Goldsmith snr, and sign the codicils to his father’s last will and testament. Richard Goldsmith snr died on the 19th March 1839 and was buried in the graveyard of St Mary Rotherithe, known as the Mayflower Church. The following week, Captain Edward Goldsmith submitted a report to the Association for the Colonisation of the Falkland Islands which was formed by his friend Lt. Capt. Wm Langdon in VDL and others who were urging the British government to establish a naval base and penal colony on the islands. His letter confirming the views of Association was published in the Colonial Gazette of the 6th April, stating from his point of view the obvious need of a supply depot midway en route to the Australian colonies:
… I cannot imagine how our Government could, for so long a time, have overlooked so valuable and important a place not only as a naval depot, but as a Colony and resort for our numberless merchantmen requiring supplies in that quarter….
On 2nd June 1839, he sailed again from London for Van Diemen’s Land in command of the Wave, arriving at Hobart on 25th September 1839 with ten passengers and a general cargo.
Port Officer’s Log, the barque Wave,
Sailed on 2nd June 1839, Arrived at Hobart 25th September 1839, State of Health, Good, Master, Edward Goldsmith, Owners, Phillips & Co., Tons, 345, Guns, 2, Port of Registry, London, Build, British, Crew, 16, Cargo, General Pilot, Mr. Aldridge, Record Type: Arrivals, Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:433018, Resource MB2/39/1/4 P351, Archives Office Tasmania
SEPT. 26. – Arrived the barque Wave, 345 tons, Goldsmith, master, from London, with a general cargo. – Passengers, Messrs. Barnard, Roop, Herring, Walker, W. M. Cook, Davis, Bennett, Leftwick, Roworzing, and Mrs. Bennett
Source: Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 – 1857) Tue 1 Oct 1839 Page 4 Shipping Intelligence.
Within weeks of arriving at Hobart, Captain Goldsmith formed a ship building company with Messrs Bilton, Haig, Meaburn and Williamson and purchased the land on offer at Secheron Bay with intentions of constructing a patent slip. Messrs Bilton and Meaburn were shipping agents; Captain Haig had completed a warehouse on his river frontage in 1834, with plans for extension, and shipwright William Williamson had tendered for the construction of a dry dock. They purchased the private strip of land adjoining the stone wall boundary of the Secheron estate which included a house and premises, originally in the ownership of Henry W. Mortimer, butcher and gunsmith. William Williamson’s tender was successful. He went ahead with the building of three wooden cargo schooners there between 1837-1839.
Source: Southern Australian (Adelaide, SA : 1838 – 1844) Wed 6 Nov 1839 Page 3 V. D. LAND EXTRACTS.
LAND.-The property of Mr H. W. Mortimer,sold on Wednesday last by Mr W.T. Macmichael, realized the following prices, viz.-an allotment fronting the Derwent, 115 feet,£5 5s per foot,£903 12s do do. 115 feet, £9 10s, £1092 10s; and the dwelling house and premises, £625.-Messrs Bilton & Meaburn, and Captain Goldsmith of the Wave were purchasers, and we have been informed it is their intention to lay down a patent slip, which Captain Goldsmith will bring with him next voyage.-
Source: Southern Australian (Adelaide, SA : 1838 – 1844) Wed 6 Nov 1839 Page 3 V. D. LAND EXTRACTS.
Source: Colonial Times, Tues 29 October 1839, page 7, Domestic Intelligence
SHIP BUILDING. – A Ship Building Company, composed of Messrs. Bilton, Goldsmith, Haig, Meaburn, and Williamson, are just about to commence, on the ground lately purchased from Mr. Mortimer, where an extensive and well sheltered building yard, and patent slip, are to be erected; an enterprise very much required, and deserving of encouragement. The parties are all gentlemen of practical knowledge, a qualification very much calculated to give general satisfaction, and to ensure success, for the attainment of which they have our best wishes.
The ship building company was disbanded in 1841, as the Courier reported in this notice:
NOTICE.- The Copartnership hitherto carried on by the undersigned, under the style or firm of “The Derwent Ship Building Company”, has been dissolved as on this date.
for John James Meaburn
Witness- Robert Pitcairn
Hobart Town, March 3. 
Source: Classified Advertising. (1841, March 5). The Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 – 1859), p. 3. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2956876
Ship-building on Battery Point’s slipyards gained considerable momentum during the peak whaling years of the 1830s, Attention turned to producing larger vessels in the 1840s. Enthusiasm for the fine barque, the Rattler, a 552 tons A1 vessel which Captain Goldsmith first sailed to Hobart on its maiden voyage in 1846, was expressed in this report on the progress of local ship-builders using the colony’s own timbers, notably the blue gum (eucalyptus globulus) and Huon Pine.
Source: Hobart Courier, 23 August 1848
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR COLONIAL SHIP-BUILDERS.
– The Harpley, built by Mr. Raven, in Launceston, has been classed by the surveyors for Lloyd’s A1 for ten years, the same as the Rattler and Windermere, being one year longer than the Jane Frances, Aden and Colonist. This is a gratifying fact, and will offer increased inducement to ship-building in Van Diemen’s Land. The surveyors at Lloyd’s are good judges of the durability and qualities of the material used; the classification of the Harpley may therefore be regarded as incontestable evidence of the applicability of the timber of this colony to purposes of shipping.
Risby Bros. timber yard showing Secheron House in background late 1800s
Archives Office Tasmania
The barque Eucalyptus on slip ca, 1862 [unattributed]
Williamson’s Dockyard with Secheron House in background
Archives Office Tasmania
The construction of a dry dock at Secheron Bay by William Williamson proved inadequate to the repair needs of large vessels. 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 1840s. 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 new 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 on the other side of the harbour (Sullivan Cove), at the Old Wharf behind the Commissariat Stores, the site now part of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Historic Precinct. 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.
Captain Goldsmith arrived at Hobart with the patent slip on board the Rattler in December 1851, and issued a notice to contractors to tender for its construction.
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
Source; Sydney Morning Herald 13 December 1849
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
Source: Colonial Times 29 July 1851
However, construction of the patent slip at the Queen’s Domain did not proceed as planned. 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 in 1854, 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. Sir John Franklin’s nephew, William Porden Kay, 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 (read the full transcript here) 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 and lease to the McGregor brothers. 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. By November 1855, Captain and Mrs Elizabeth Goldsmith, and their only surviving son Edward Goldsmith jnr were preparing to depart permanently from Tasmania. They had auctioned the contents of their house at 19 Davey St. in mid 1855, and advertised the stock of Goldsmith’s yard on the Government Domain for sale. They sailed from Tasmania as passengers on board the Indian Queen in February 1856:
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.
Source: Hobart Courier, 12th November 1855.
The original slipyard site on the Domain on the foreshore of the Royal Botanical Gardens commenced by Captain Edward Goldsmith in 1851 is still in operation, now owned by TasPorts.
The Domain slipyard and slip Hobart Tasmania 2014
Photos © KLW NFC 2014
The Secheron Bay Site Today
Detail: map of Hobart by R. Jarman – Battery Point ca. 1858:
Top circle = Goldsmith’s patent slip and Williamson’s Dry Dock on the river frontage at Secheron Bay.
Lower circle = where Ross relocated the patent slip at the end of Sloane St. in 1866.
At peak capacity, the technologically-advanced, steam-powered winch of the Ross Patent Slip had the power to manage vessels of up to 1,250 tonnes deadweight. But few ships of that size were built here – most of the slip’s work was in maintenance and repair, hauling the vessels from the water in a cloud of hissing steam and billowing smoke.Ross’s Patent Slip operated here from 1866 before being dismantled in 1903. Later slipways and shipyards took over the lower part of the site and are still working today.
For an overview of the function, history and preservation of the slip yards, see this Report on Battery Point Slipyards Conservation Plan 2008.
The proposed site for the patent slip in 1836, suggested by George Frankland and purchased by Captain Goldsmith and partners (see Google map below marked with a red cross), is now an empty space on the riverfront at the end of Finlay Street, Battery Point. After William Williamson sold the slip to John Ross in 1866, it was relocated to a site known as the Ross Patent Slip, now an empty stone shell located at the end of Sloane Street, Battery Point. The large cost of relocation caused foreclosure on Ross’ loan in 1870, and John Lucas was next to acquire the site until its eventual sale to the Marine Board in the early 1900s. Today, the remnant of the Ross slipyard is visible from the foreshore below Sloane St. Battery Point, the last address of master mariner Captain James Day, who died there in 1882, and who must have spent many hours at the Domain and Secheron Bay slips first established by his brother-in-law, Captain Edward Goldsmith, uncle of Thomas Nevin’s wife, Elizabeth Rachel Day.
A brick shell: site of the slip below Sloane St. Battery Point, Hobart Tasmania
Photo © KLW NFC 2014
The site of the original proposed slip and shipbuilding yard at Secheron Bay in 1836-39, situated at the end of Finlay Street, Battery Point – marked X with a red cross.
Google maps 2016.