Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Historic Richmond and The Bridge

Hobart in miniature - Government House on the left

Tommy Lake thinking of Home

Richmond Bridge

One of the marked stones

Steve Cain at work

A better view of the bridge

We'd planned to take a bus trip up to the top of Mount Wellington, but at 10am it was heavy with cloud, so we cancelled out, and set off for Richmond. On the way we spotted people picking blackberries and we thought "Hmmmm blackberry pie, jam .... let's get some!" So we did, and rose hips too, and I spent tonight putting up blackberry conserve and rose hip jam - Carol would be proud of me, (Carol is our gardening and living close to the earth guru, she gave our U3A Gardening Group a wonderful talk recently on 'Preserving your Bounty', and told how she will stop and pick wild apples and plums growing by the roadside and bring them home to bottle).
On to Richmond - an early settlement in Tasmania's history, and important to our family, because 3 x great grandfather William Hartley Wilson was the stonemason in charge of the building of the bridge. We stopped and chatted to Steve Cain who was re-pointing the cement under one of the arches, and he told us he had worked on the bridge for 40 years. I asked about traffic on the bridge, as I there was some talk of closing it to motor traffic, but he told us the engineers have decided the downward pressure exerted by the traffic is good for its stability. Steve also pointed out to us some of the marked stones - the significance is not known, but some of the stones have initials, or symbols, carved into them. Steve was very sure they were of convict origin, and not carved at some later stage.
We lunched at The Richmond Arms, and then headed for the gaol. Max was not impressed - he has never liked visiting gaols, I think he finds them too depressing - understandably. Apart from the solitary cells, which were absolutely horrific in their pitchy blackness, the thing that impacted me the most was the wooden window shutter, quite high up in the wall of one of the 'day rooms'. Two sailing ships had been carved into the wood, and T. Lake had carved his name, and the name of his village Writtle, Essex. I could just picture him, sitting up there, thinking of home ..... The pamphlet stated that Thomas Lake (alias Leake) had been sentenced in 1842 for highway robbery, he was 20 years old. He was eventually given a free pardon, I'm glad to say, in 1858. I wonder if he ever got home.
We needed a cup of tea after that, and then we headed down the main street to the reconstruction of Hobart Town in miniature. I had visited this attraction years ago, and was pleased to find it is looking even better - it has been built completely to scale, from plans and pictures, and depicts Hobart as it was in the 1820s, when GGG Grandfather William and his bride Margaret arrived. The family story goes that Margaret cried and cried for the first week, she couldn't stand the noise of the convicts screaming.

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