Street * Battery Point * Tasmania
These COTTAGES are
believed to be the oldest remaining buildings on the site of the ship building
yards in Napoleon Street. They are
painted brick, English bond, three bricks thick, with lath and plaster
inside. The internal walls are of
timber, with random width tongue and groove boards. The ceilings are the same and inside the roof are the battens to
which shingles were once attached.
cottages were built on a portion of the 90 acres of land originally granted to
William Sorell, Esquire, third Lieutenant – Governor of Van Diemen's Land.
These 90 acres were sold in 1824 to William
Kermode for £600; in 1833 the block on which the Mariners' Cottages stand was
bought by James Kelly, Master Mariner of Hobart Town. He leased the site in 1839 to John Watson, shipbuilder, who bought it from Kelly in 1843 for £736 19s 4d.
conveyance mentions "land and buildings" and it is believed that John Watson
had already built the lower cottage or that he built it even after purchasing
the land on which he had purchased his famous shipyard. On one survey, documenting the lower cottage
is marked as a store, and it is believed that John Watson used it to store
timber and other articles for shipbuilding. There were also a blacksmith's shop and a carpenter's shop nearby.
Watson arrived from England in 1831 and for two years he was in charge of the
shipbuilding yard at Port Arthur. He
set up his own business on the site in 1839 and among the ships he built were
the famous "Flying Squadron" — Flying Squirrel, Flying Fish, Flying Childers
(the ship on the coat of arms of the Hobart City Council) and Flying Fox. Others were the Sisters,
Panama, Fair Tasmania, Free Trader, Swordfish and Southern Cross.
The barque Runnymede, a famous whaler featured on the cover of the 1988
Hobart phone book, was another Watson-built ship.
In 1856 the property was offered for
Extensive, valuable and Important Property known as Mr Watson's Ship-yard with
cottages, workshops, stores, jetty and wharf etc. etc. which will be divided
into convenient and judiciously arranged lots."
property was sold to Duncan McPherson for £4000.
shipyard was run by J Lucas and R A Jeffrey and then, in the 1880's by Messrs
Tilly and Williams.
shipyard was sold, the cottages were leased to various tenants for more than a
century. Some very poor additions (more
than 50 years ago), rising damp and water spillage from the roadway had all caused
considerable damage, especially in the top cottage.
Hobart City Council, as owners, leased the cottages to the National Trust of
Australia (Battery Point Group); in return for a peppercorn rent, the National
Trust agreed to restore the cottages and has spent more than $20,000 doing so.
In addition, members of the Cruising
Yacht Club of Tasmania have given many hundreds of hours of labour.