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History &
26 JUNE 2014
An initiative of the Mercury in
partnership with Norske Skog, Boyer
160 Years of the Mercury 1854-2014
First century celebrated
T the height of the Great Depression in
1932, Davies Brothers Ltd announced that
work was under way on the construction
of a large new paper store and process
department and an extension to one of the machine
rooms at the Mercury’s headquarters in Hobart.
A contract for ВЈ3224 had been award to D.R. Tait of
Sandy Bay to build the new factory to the design of the
local architectural firm of Walker and Johnstone. The
project provided months of work for carpenters, bricklayers,
plasterers, painters, plumbers and other trades.
The three storey building went up behind the original
offices on Macquarie St and next to the 1902 premises. The
new building’s concrete floors were overlaid with Tasmanian
hardwood parquetry supplied by Crisp and Gunn.
More than 200 people representing all sections of the
staff attended a social gathering for the official opening night
in April 1933. Within two years there would be another new
building, this time fronting
Series Editor
Matt Deighton
Mike Moffatt
John Ralph
Damian Bester
Travis Tiddy
Argyle St, to serve as a paper store and executive garage.
The whole company must have reeled in shock when three
Mercury journalists were involved in a fatal car crash while
driving home from work late one night in September 1934.
Senior reporter Jack Judd was killed and two
colleagues seriously injured when their car and a truck
collided in Argyle St, North Hobart. A returned serviceman,
Mr Judd was a prominent member of the Australian
Journalists Association (AJA) and the news of his death
was carried in newspapers around the country.
The Courier Mail in Brisbane and the Advertiser in
Brisbane described Mr Judd, 43, as one of the best-known
journalists in Tasmania and a two-time president of the AJA.
Also injured in the crash were turf writer Roy
Kearney, 40, and cadet journalist Lloyd Morgan, 20, as
well as the driver of the truck, Leonard Harbach.
Tasmania’s two most popular weekly papers, the Illustrated
Tasmanian Mail and the Weekly Courier, published
their final issues on June 27, 1935. Similar notices
published in the Mercury and the Examiner advised
that the proprietors of each had decided their
weekly journals would cease simultaneously.
Both titles had their origins in a time when
photographs were rarely used in newspapers,
mostly due to the cost and technical difficulty.
The weeklies contained extensive pictorial
sections lavishly printed using the lithographic
method, which was far superior to regular
letterpress printing. In the 21st century
both titles are prized by researchers for the
window they provide into Tasmanian life of
the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
By the 1930s, photos were appearing in the
pages of daily newspapers on a more regular
basis and the cost of producing the illustrated
weeklies was outstripping their income.
To coincide with the demise of the
Courier and the Mail, the rival publishers
both launched special sections for female
readers. In the Mercury’s case this was the
Woman’s Realm, a weekly supplement
“for all branches of women’s interests”.
The pictorial tradition of the weeklies
lived on in “Annuals” produced by the
Mercury and the Examiner around
Christmastime well into the 1940s.
From August 3, 1939 page one of
the Mercury became the headline news
page instead of being the exclusive
domain of advertising matter.
In an editorial on page three,
the Mercury said this was a change
Special thanks
Damian Bester, Rod Boucher, Jarrad Bevan
Mike Bingham, Phil Beck, Danielle Wood
John Vile, Margaret Vine Hall, Peter Mercer
The Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office,
Colin Henry, Mark Stansall, and all at the Mercury
demanded by the time and the wishes of readers. It noted
that of the 14 metropolitan daily newspapers in Australia, 10,
including the Mercury, now featured this modern make-up.
After 85 years on the front page, the traditional
classified advertising - from births, deaths and
marriages to the public notices and the “wanted”
ads - was moved well inside the paper.
There was still room for display advertisements
on the front page and the first of those was from
Motors Pty Ltd featuring the latest Chevrolet sedan.
Australia’s own car was still a few years away.
Another change to the Mercury following the new setup
was the end of the Woman’s Realm supplement. Instead, there
would be two pages devoted to women’s interests each day.
Also included in the first “front page news” issue
of the Mercury was a sketch of how the newspaper’s
offices would look following their reconstruction.
By January 1940 the imposing new office was complete.
It was two buildings in
one, divided by an internal
From August 3, 1939
laneway, with a common
page one of the
façade encompassing
Mercury became the
both the new-build and
headline news page
the 1902 building that
remained largely intact
instead of being the
behind the new frontage.
exclusive domain of
The design was described
advertising matter.
as “modern perpendicular
style” at the time but it
has long since been popularly regarded as art deco.
Behind, the new edifice was connected to the various
factory buildings associated with the printing of the newspaper
and myriad other activities from the production of cigarette
and chocolate wrappers to the assembly of cardboard boxes.
World War II was under way by the time the new
building was occupied and so the usual celebrations that
would have been expected seem not to have occurred.
As with World War I, the company was soon farewelling
staff who had joined the army, navy or air force. On September
29, 1942, it was reported that Lieutenant Keith Bruce, formerly
of the Mercury’s Launceston office, had been killed in action.
His father was also on the newspaper’s northern staff.
Australian Newsprint Mills Ltd (now Norske Skog) started
producing the first locally-made newsprint at Boyer in 1941.
Locally-made paper had been the aim of Australia’s newspapers
for many years and major publishers including the Mercury
were part-owners of the new factory near New Norfolk.
Despite the advent of this new industry, paper was soon
in short supply as imports dried up and newspapers around
the country were told to trim their sails. In October 1942 the
Mercury changed to a tabloid format as part of the war effort.
A month after the D Day landings in Normandy, the
Mercury centenary magazine cover, 1954.
(Cover) Tasmanian opposition leader Henry Baker (left)
and Premier Edmund Dwyer-Gray inspect the first issue
of the Mercury featuring front page news in 1939.
160 Years of the Mercury 1854-2014
Mercury paused to reflect on the march of progress on
the occasion of its 90th birthday on July 5, 1944.
With newsprint still being rationed, the paper allocated
just two pages to its birthday, including a photo of the Scott
multi-unit octuplet printing press that was soon to be installed.
The Scott press had landed from Sydney in 168 cases
weighing about two tonnes each. It was installed under the
supervision of W J Forsythe, the company’s mechanical
superintendent, who had installed the Hoe press in 1922.
Powered by 14 electric motors of up to 80hp, the press
could print a newspaper of up to 64 pages in normal running. It
could print, fold and count up to 30,000 newspapers an hour.
Mr C.B. Davies, chairman since 1921 and managing
director since 1931, retired from Davies Brothers Ltd in
1946. Under his leadership the number of employees
had more than doubled and the circulation of the
Mercury had risen from 11,000 to 33,000 daily.
Following his retirement, managing editor C.E.
Davies junior became chairman of directors.
Paper was still being rationed in 1947 and readers
were advised that the space devoted to Letters
to the Editor would be reduced. Correspondents
were asked to keep their letters to 120 words.
In 1948 the first issue of Davies Brothers shares
to the public was made of 60,000 preference shares
at ВЈ2, bringing the issued capital to ВЈ280,000. The
remaining ВЈ160,000 represented ВЈ1 ordinary shares.
In 1952 the company was reorganised with Davies
Brothers Ltd becoming the parent company of three
subsidiaries — The Mercury Newspaper Pty Ltd, Mercury
Press Pty Ltd and Mercury Board Containers Pty Ltd.
In 1953 the Mercury opened a new building in St John
St, Launceston, on the site
of its earlier premises which
Within a couple of
were badly damaged in the
years, the Mercury
Ludbrook’s department
would be eyeing off
store fire of December
1950. The façade of the
the most advanced
new building resembled
printing press
the head office in Hobart.
in the world.
Damage to Ludbrook’s,
the Mercury and adjoining
buildings was estimated at ВЈ300,000, or about $14 million
today. The Examiner had immediately offered office
space to the Mercury’s northern staff, but the reporters
opted to bunker down in the Launceston Hotel and
later moved to temporary quarters in the Quadrant.
The year 1954 was a massive one for the Mercury, but it
was not without tragedy. With the newspaper’s centenary,
a royal visit and a new evening paper to launch, the year
started with a jolt when the young chairman of directors and
managing editor, M C.E. Davies junior, died at 39 years of age.
Tasmanian Harold Gatty and
American Wiley Post make
record round-the-world flight
A trained journalist as well as a company executive, Mr
Davies was a grandson of the founder, John Davies. He had
served as a captain in the army in World War II and was an
associate director of Australian Newsprint Mills, Boyer.
At the next board meeting Mr G.F. Davies was appointed
chairman and later, managing director, and would be the
last member of the Davies family to hold those positions.
Special issues of the Mercury were published in
February 1954 when Queen Elizabeth II spent several days
in Tasmania during her tour of Australia – the first by a
reigning monarch. On the day of her arrival in Hobart, extra
editions of the Mercury were issued at 6pm and 8pm.
A new paper, the Saturday Evening Mercury,
had its debut on July 3, 1954, and the centenary of
the founding of the Mercury was celebrated with
the issuing of a 160-page magazine on July 5.
The centenary magazine was the largest job printed on
the Scott press. Within a couple of years, the Mercury would
be eyeing off the most advanced printing press in the world.
The Mercury building under construction in May 1939.
University of Tasmania students marked the
end of the Illustrated Tasmanian Mail in their
annual commencement parade in 1935.
Joseph Lyons becomes prime
minister, only Tasmanian
to reach that rank
Lyell Highway opens,
linking Hobart
with West Coast
160 Years of the Mercury 1854-2014
Our last man hanged
ASMANIA’S Fred Thompson is not as notorious
as Ronald Ryan, but they both shared the
same fate and a link in Australia’s history.
On February 14, 1946, Thompson, 32, was
the last man hanged in Tasmania after being found guilty of
murdering an eight-year-old girl, Evelyn Mary Maughan.
In Melbourne two decades later, Ronald Ryan walked
calmly to the gallows in Pentridge Prison, sentenced to death
for killing a prison officer during an escape from the jail.
On February 3, 1967 Ryan was the
last man hanged in Australia.
The day after Thompson’s execution
in Hobart, the Mercury reported that he
had gone to the scaffold calmly without
making any statement about the murder.
Despite receiving a deputation from
Hobart church leaders asking for a reprieve,
the Labor Government under Premier Robert
Cosgrove decided not to intervene.
Frederick Henry Thompson had murdered a
child and public opinion was against him. After the
hanging, the Mercury editorialised that the exaction
of the full penalty had removed one menace but had
done nothing to prevent similar crimes in the future.
“On two previous occasions Thompson had
been convicted of sex offences. Whether he
ever came under medical restraint has not been
disclosed. If he had been so detained and treated
by psychiatrists until his taint were removed, or if
the taint could not be removed, he had been placed
under permanent restraint, Thompson would not
have died shamefully and the victim would still
have had her life before her,” the Mercury said.
It took a further 22 years from
Thompson’s execution for the death
penalty to be abolished in Tasmania.
Thompson was only the third execution
in Tasmania in the 20th century but an
estimated 540 were hanged during the 1800s
- even crimes which nowadays might lead to little
more than a work order could lead to the scaffold.
Such was the case with Thomas England, executed
in 1806 for allowing people to break into a government
store at Port Dalrymple in the north of the colony.
In 1826, Scottish settler George Farquharson,
who was considered to be from a highly respected
family, was hanged for stealing 400 sheep.
The first woman executed in Tasmania was
Mary MacLauchlan who killed her child at the
Mercury erects a large new
building to house paper
store and printing presses
women’s penitentiary at South Hobart in 1830.
Author Richard P. Davis says in his Study of Capital
Punishment that in the 12 years between 1824 and 1836, when
Colonel George Arthur was Governor, there were more than
250 executions – almost half the total in Tasmania’s history.
Governor Arthur believed strongly in the death
penalty as a deterrent. Until 1855 the hangings
were in public and sometimes bodies were left
on the gibbet or ordered to be dissected.
In 1857 the gallows were moved from the original
Hobart jail on the corner of Murray and Macquarie Sts to the
Penitentiary on the corner of Brisbane and Campbell Sts.
In 1859 five men were hanged together, standing on
the trapdoor with their feet tied to prevent mishap.
They were the convicted murderers John
King and William Davis, and bushrangers Daniel
Stewart, William Fearns and Peter Haley.
The Mercury reported the next day: “The arrangements
being at length concluded, the bolt was drawn and the
unfortunate culprits were launched into eternity. Haley
Holyman Airways plane Miss Hobart
disappears over Bass Strait with loss of 12
people, including proprietor Victor Holyman
and King struggled for a few moments, but the others
appeared to have been instantly deprived of life.”
Davis documents that executions virtually
stopped in the 1890s, but it would take three
more hangings before the penalty was removed,
largely due to the reformist zeal of Roy Fagan.
A successful barrister and law lecturer, Mr
Fagan was elected to State Parliament the year
Thompson was hanged and was immediately taken
into the Cosgrove Cabinet as Attorney-General.
Mr Fagan was a staunch opponent of capital
punishment and in 1955 he introduced legislation to
abolish capital punishment for all crimes except treason.
The legislation passed the House of Assembly,
but it was rejected by the Legislative Council
as was similar legislation two years later.
It wasn’t until 1968 that Mr Fagan achieved
what he considered his most important contribution
to public life. In a stirring 80-minute speech to
the House of Assembly, Mr Fagan described
capital punishment as a barbaric anachronism.
Members sat in silence as Mr Fagan said
he had recommended “eight or 10” convicted
murderers for parole and “none has ever been
in any trouble, major or minor, since.”
“This penalty is not necessary, it is morally
wrong . . . it offends the spirit of the age,” he said.
Mr Fagan said serious and sustained opposition
to capital punishment dated back to the 18th
century when a man could be hanged for more than
100 offences, including chopping down a tree.
In spite of every conceivable legal
precaution, it was still possible for an innocent
man to be sentenced to death, he said.
In the Legislative Council the mood had changed
from when the matter was last debated and capital
punishment was removed from the statute books.
The last man to be sentenced to death –
Peter Kingsley Cassidy, 22, who had pleaded
guilty to shooting his wife – had his sentence commuted
to life imprisonment in December 1968.
Frederick Henry Thompson was the last man hanged
in Tasmania – article from the Mercury of January
18, 1946 announcing the date for the hanging.
Election of government led by
Albert Ogilvie starts 35 years of
continuous Labor governments
Five die when Holyman
Airways plane Loina
crashes off Flinders Island
Now and Then
Digital composite image of WWII peace celebration in Macquarie
St, Hobart, created by Carolyn Docking and Richard Jupe based
on an original image from the Mercury Newspaper Collection.
Old Office at
147 Elizabeth Street
After 60 years
we’re still
growing strong!
The New Office at
141 Murray Street
Staying true to our unshakeable belief in Hobart property, we have continued to
out-perform the majority of agents throughout the last six decades. We are here to stay!
Ph 6231 0400
(Home Loans)
160 Years of the Mercury 1854-2014
War and peace
FTER initially being overlooked as a defence
supplier during World War II, Tasmanian
premier Robert Cosgrove eventually
broke through the wall of resistance
and contracts started flowing to the state.
A booklet titled Tasmanians at War, published in 1946,
lists the state’s considerable contributions to the war effort
Perhaps the most outstanding of these was establishment
of the Optical Annexe in Hobart which, starting from scratch,
made prisms for sights and other military equipment vital
for use at the front. Staff grew from six to 200 in one year.
An ammunition factory established on the former
Ascot racecourse at Derwent Park had a peak employment
of 1350 in December 1943, 850 of them female.
Shells were made in Launceston where the
Alexander Patent Racket Company changed from
making sporting equipment to military equipment.
An extension to the Henry Jones factory in Hobart
was dedicated to making bolts and primer shells for
25-pounder field guns, and the Purdon and Featherstone
shipyard at Battery Point built three hospital ships and
three harbour defence launches for the war effort.
Precautions against air raids started in earnest
1941 when the Hobart Regatta was cancelled and
all road signs giving away the names of towns,
municipalities or travelling distances were removed.
In 1940 Premier Robert Cosgrove had formed a
War Emergency Committee and
5000 Tasmanians were recruited
into the Civil Defence Legion.
At the end of 1940 the Port
of Hobart was closed to shipping
when German mines were
detected close to the entrance.
Then, at the same time as the
Japanese made their first bombing raid
on Darwin, a giant Japanese submarine
was lurking off Tasmania’s East Coast.
A floatplane carried in a waterproof
compartment in the submarine
was assembled by the crew, flown
south, skirting the Tasman Peninsula,
and then approached Hobart.
This pre-dawn “raid” on March 1, 1942 was the
closest most Tasmanians got to being involved in action,
but it struck fear into the hearts of many and exposed
just how vulnerable the island was to attack.
Children returning home from school that night were
told to sleep under their beds,
and a senior army official’s
In 1940 Premier
wife caused great scandal
Robert Cosgrove
by fleeing to Bothwell.
had formed a
Premier Cosgrove
War Emergency
announced that in view of the
serious risk of attack by air,
Committee and
5000 Tasmanians arrangements had been made
for continuous manning of all air
were recruited
raid posts by skeleton staffs.
into the Civil
The premier’s statement,
Defence Legion.
reported in the Mercury on March
2, was the closest thing there
was to any official announcement of the Japanese presence.
But the threat of attack was so real that schools
throughout the state were ordered to dig trenches
in preparation for possible air raids. Several students
from Fahan School were sent to Interlaken where
they spent two terms before being recalled.
Two massive airstrips were built in the state, one
on the Annandale and Cheam grazing properties west
of Tunbridge and another about 5km east of Campbell
Town at Quorn Hall. The Annandale airstrip had two
runways and paths leading into the bush to hide planes,
but it was never used for any serious military purpose.
Three massive underground fuel dumps were built
just east of Ross on the Tooms Lake Rd, and a military
hospital was established on the Merton Vale property
near Campbell Town. A spur was built off the main
north-south rail line to take fuel to the dumps.
There was a camp for Italian prisoners of war at Austins
Ferry, with many of the prisoners being put to work on farms.
Germany’s surrender in May 1945 brought peace to
Europe, but it would take another four months of fighting
before there was peace in the Pacific. The catalyst was
the atomic bomb, first used by the American Air Force
on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6.
Hiroshima and its population of 400,000 was turned into
a nuclear desert. Virtually all buildings within a 2000-metre
radius of the centre of the blast were destroyed.
The death toll within a 1km radius was 90 per
cent, between 1.1 and 1.5km it was 45 per cent and
between 1.6 and 2.5km it was 22.6 per cent.
While a milestone for science, it was a milestone many
wished had never been reached. But the alternative,
according to other military leaders at the time, was to
sacrifice another 1,250,000 lives in invading Japan.
(Left and right, and opposite)
Street victory scenes in Hobart
in September 1945.
Hobart gets
first electric
trolley buses
Legislation for
three-year state
parliamentary terms
SS Paringa
sinks in Bass
Strait, 31 die
Last known Tasmanian
tiger dies at Hobart’s
Beaumaris Zoo
Submarine telephone cable
service begins between Tasmania
and Victoria via King Island
First two area schools (renamed
district schools in 1973) open
at Sheffield and Hagley
160 Years of the Mercury 1854-2014
Three days later another atomic bomb was dropped
on Nagasaki, and Japan surrendered on September
2 aboard the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Harbour.
It was six years to the day since Britain had
declared war on Germany. The days following
the surrender were bitter-sweet for Tasmanians
awaiting news from prisoner-of-war camps.
Lists of names were published by the Mercury
as the camps were liberated, bringing enormous
relief to many families but ending hope for others.
Returning troops were demobilised at the Brighton
Army Camp. Tasmania had contributed about 29,000
men and 2300 women to the armed services. About
1100 were killed, considerably fewer than in World War I.
Opening of Mt Wellington
summit road, built as
Depression relief work project
Work begins on floatingarch bridge across
Derwent in Hobart
Production starts
at the Burnie pulp
and paper mill
Death in office of
prime minister
Joseph Lyons
World War
II begins
Now and Then
Digital image of Deloraine created by Ross Marsden based on an
historical image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.
Royal Hobart
Hospital opens
on present site
Introduction of
“front page news”
in the Mercury
Tasmanian soldiers leave
for North African campaign
with Australian 6th Division
German naval raiders lay mines off Hobart and other Australian
areas; Hobart closed to shipping because of mine threat; Bass
Strait closed after mine sinks British steamer Cambridge
Tasmanian soldiers
leave for Malaya with
Australian 8th Division
Australian Newsprint Mills’ Boyer
plant becomes first in world to
produce newsprint from hardwood
January-March daylight
saving introduced as
wartime measure
Women 18 to
30 called up
for war work
Size of the Mercury reduced
to tabloid format due to
wartime paper shortages
160 Years of the Mercury 1854-2014
Reaching the summit
The Pinnacle Rd up Mt Wellington provided muchneeded employment for several years during the
Great Depression. Heavy snow interrupted the
roadworks – and continues to frustrate motorists on
occasions – but the task was completed in about two
years in a joint effort by the State Government and
the Hobart City Council, with the official opening being
performed by Governor Ernest Clark in January 1937.
Opening ceremony on Mt Wellington, January 1937.
(Left to right) Pinnacle Rd under
construction at Mt Wellington.
(Right) A snowblower clearing the Pinnacle Rd.
Hobart floatingarch pontoon
bridge opens
Enid Lyons elected first woman
member of House of Representatives,
winning seat of Darwin (now Braddon)
Japanese torpedo
HMAS Hobart in
Solomon Islands waters
University of Tasmania
begins transfer to
Sandy Bay site
State Library
160 Years of the Mercury 1854-2014
Rani wins the first
Yacht Race
Last horse-drawn
Hobart cab
ceases operation
War-affected migrants begin arriving from Europe
to work for Hydro-Electric Commission, with
“displaced persons” (refugees) coming the next year
ABC forms Tasmanian
Symphony Orchestra
on permanent basis
160 Years of the Mercury 1854-2014
Engineering firm’s
strong foundations
NGINEERING, architecture and environmental
consulting company GHD continues to build
on its proud history in Tasmania, having
provided 77 years of continuous service
to clients and the community across the island.
GHD has played an instrumental role in delivering
vital infrastructure for the state, dating back to the
opening of the Hobart office in 1937. Designing many
of the state’s early dams and water schemes, the
company made a big contribution to securing safe and
reliable drinking water supplies for Tasmanians.
In the post-war period, despite shortages of materials,
equipment and qualified people, GHD continued
to grow the breadth of its offerings, serving both
government and private sector clients from Hobart and
Launceston to the most remote corners of the state.
By the 1950s GHD was working extensively
on the rapid expansion of Hobart’s Eastern Shore,
including town water supplies and sewerage systems,
roads, drains and residential subdivisions.
In the 1960s, the company designed the electrical and
mechanical services for the Royal Hobart Hospital, and
designed and supervised construction of the Risdon Brook
Dam, Australia’s first concrete-faced rolled rockfill dam. The
iconic Wrest Point Casino benefitted from GHD’s structural,
civil, electrical and mechanical engineering services.
While these historic projects have underpinned
Tasmania’s growth and prosperity to this day, GHD
continues to deliver leading-edge technical solutions.
The company has developed a unique design for
McGee’s Bridge east of Hobart. Other recent highprofile projects include the Craggy Ridge ecotourism
and residential development, Margaret St Detention
Basin in Launceston and the Brighton Bypass (North).
“We are a people business and the key to our
long-running success has been our business model
of employee ownership that facilitates our ability
to employ and retain highly skilled people,” said
GHD’s Tasmanian manager Rob Lowther.
“Some of our people have been with us for over
40 years. Combining this experience with the skill and
enthusiasm of younger employees allows us to provide the
range and quality of services we do today,” Mr Lowther said.
Today GHD employs 5500 people across five
continents, serving clients in the global markets
of water, energy and resources, environment,
property and buildings, and transportation.
In Tasmania, GHD numbers more than 110 people with
offices in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie. “We are proud to
be a leading consulting company in Tasmania. We are here
for our clients and our community,” Mr Lowther said.
“As part of our connected global network, we are
bringing the right skills and capabilities wherever they are
needed. At the same time, we provide opportunities for
committed people to develop their careers on challenging
projects around our state and around the world.”
The Mt Paris Dam construction in 1936.
Gordon Gutteridge of
Launceston put the G in GHD!
He started more than
three quarters of a century
of tradition in the design
and construction of major
dams, water supply and civil
Local offices – Global support
160 Years of the Mercury 1854-2014
History and headlines
A dark era starts
THE 1930s saw the Nazi Party start its rise to ascendancy
in Germany, with Adolf Hitler becoming Chancellor of
Germany in 1933 and beginning his rule as a dictator.
One of his first acts was to round up tens of thousands of
opponents and Jews and put them in Dachau, the first of many
concentration camps. A dark new era had started for Europe.
Temperance movement
HUNTING game for the fur trade, and food, provided many
Tasmanians with a good income during the 1930s. That
game was plentiful can be seen from figures supplied by
the Fauna Board in 1932. The figures showed the average
numbers killed annually in the previous four years were:
black opossum, 14,497; grey opossum, 23,693; ringtail
opossum, 576,707; kangaroo, 62,974; wallaby, 91,032.
Gustav Waldheim
THE Mercury of May 7, 1932, carried a report of the death of
Gustav Weindorfer, the famous botanist and bushwalker who
built and lived in Waldheim chalet near Cradle Mountain.
Three days later it was reported that “his burial was at the
scene of his life’s work, which was peculiarly appropriate”. A
replica Waldheim Chalet today houses a display for tourists.
Fire in an adjoining building severely
damages the St John Street,
Launceston, offices of the Mercury
A SEA lion was captured at New Norfolk in 1934. Its visit was
attributed to the large number of bream and mullet in the river.
Century milestone
Monkeying around
Hunting season
ONE of the longest obituaries in the Mercury during 1932
was for the turf legend Phar Lap. Bred in New Zealand,
Phar Lap was first seen in Australia in the 1928/29 season
and was unplaced in a nursery handicap at Rosehill at his
Unusual capture
REACHING 100 years of age was still something of a
rarity for Tasmanians in the 1930s, which made the
Reverend C. L’Oste, of St Helens, a remarkable man.
A retired Anglican minister, Mr L’Oste, celebrating
his 105th birthday, attributed his longevity to
the beauty of the area around St Helens.
ON April 14, 1931 the Mercury dedicated a page
to the centenary of the state’s temperance
movement founded by two Quakers, James
Backhouse and George Washington Walker.
Since 1856 the population had increased from
76,490 to 222,481, yet the number of publicans licences
had fallen from 383 to 291. The report said that when
the movement was founded men were in the habit of
selling their wives and farms for a few bottles of grog.
Phar Lap
first start. It took four more races before Phar Lap won
his first race, after which he rewrote the record books.
A GREAT engineering project of the time, the floating pontoon
bridge across the Derwent was designed by Allan Knight of the
Public Works Department. The bridge was officially opened on
December 22, 1943 and carried a toll for the first five years.
On opening day several residents of the Eastern Shore
used their cars for the first time to travel to work, one
resident telling the Mercury it had taken him five minutes
instead of 35 minutes as it had for the past 20 years.
The bridge was replaced in 1964 but the abutment for the
lifting span can still be seen on the western side of the river.
Prime Minister’s death
Picture this
Premier’s death
JUST two months after the death of Tasmanian-born Prime
Minister Joe Lyons in 1939, the state was again in mourning
at the sudden death of Labor Premier Albert Ogilvie.
Ogilvie was just 48 when he suffered a heart attack
on June 10, 1939. A lawyer, he was regarded as one of the
most outstanding political minds of his era. His lasting legacy
to Hobart is the road to the pinnacle of Mt Wellington.
War heroes
THE names of two Tasmanian war heroes who died
in action are very much alive today, commemorated
in the names of two Collins class submarines.
Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheean, an 18-year-old from
Latrobe, died fighting, strapped to an anti-aircraft gun as
the corvette HMAS Armidale sank off Timor in 1942.
Tasmania’s other navy hero recognised in the Collins class
was Captain Emile Dechaineux, commander of the flagship
HMAS Australia when it was hit by Japanese kamikaze planes
Bridging the Derwent
OUR prime minister died in office during World War II when
the popular John Curtain died of a coronary occlusion on July
5, 1945. He had been prime minister since October 1941 and
is revered in Labor ranks as one of the all-time great leaders.
In 1917 he had married Tasmanian Elsie Needham,
who survived him with a son and daughter.
A VISIT to Wirth’s Circus in Sydney proved painful for
23-year-old Tasmanian Charles Alfred Broomhead
in 1935 — he was shot in the back by a monkey.
The monkey, known as Tarzan, was doing an act
with a .22 calibre rifle when the accident occurred.
Brighton army camp gets
first intake of national
service trainees
during the Allied invasion of the Philippines in October 1944.
ends free
hospital scheme
THE state treasurer revealed in 1945 the average Tasmanian
went to the pictures 14 times a year or once every 27 days.
��Tasmanians are not nearly such keen picture
fans as people on the mainland for they go 20 times
a year on the average,’’ the treasurer said.
Leaving school age
IN 1946 the State Labor Government led by Robert Cosgrove
lifted the school leaving age to 16 and a compulsory X-ray
program was introduced to combat tuberculosis.
Our worst air accident
ON March 10, 1946 an DC-3 airliner crashed into the
sea off Seven Mile Beach, killing all 25 people aboard. It
remains Tasmania’s worst air accident and the third worst
in terms of people killed in Australia’s aviation history.
It was a Sunday night and the plane had taken off from
Cambridge aerodrome for Essendon Airport just before
Mabel Miller becomes
first woman elected to
Hobart City Council
Tasman Limited diesel train
service begins between
Hobart and northern towns
160 Years of the Mercury 1854-2014
9pm when it plunged into the sea about 200 metres from
the beach. There were no survivors and a subsequent
inquiry left an open finding on the cause of the accident.
Spectators killed
ALONGSIDE the front page report on the plane crash was
another horror story of how 33 spectators were crushed
to death at a soccer match at Bolton in England.
“Within seconds bodies were piled four deep. The referee
26 minutes later took a heroic decision and decided to resume
the game to distract the crowd’s emotions,” the report said.
HEC golden era
DESPITE shortages of many items, the post-war babyboom era was a time of great development for Tasmania.
Leading the charge was the Hydro-Electric Commission
which entered a golden era under Allan Knight who
became the most powerful public servant in the state.
The same period saw the escalation of strikes, usually
blamed on the growing Communist movement.
Cosgrove’s charges
PREMIER Robert Cosgrove was the subject of
bribery allegations and stood down from December
1947 until February 1948. The charges centred on
allegations that private transport operators had paid
him ВЈ5400 ($11,000) over three years in return for a
promise that he would protect their businesses from
being taken over by the Transport Commission.
A Royal Commission found there was a case to
answer, but Cosgrove was acquitted by a jury and
resumed his record-breaking term as Premier.
Housing Department
created to manage
public housing
First female Legislative Councillor
Queen’s visit
MARGARET McIntyre made history in Tasmania in
May 1948 when she became the first woman elected
to the Legislative Council. Four months later she was
dead, killed in a plane crash in New South Wales.
She had been elected to the seat of Cornwall
by male voters and female nurses only, as full adult
franchise for the Upper House was still 20 years away.
The Mercury reported that her death brought a tragic
end to a life of outstanding community service.
THE 1954 visit by the Queen for Tasmania’s 150th anniversary
celebrations was the first by a reigning monarch. While the
crowds were huge, The Mercury’s Royal Tour reporter may
have been somewhat carried away in the euphoria as he
estimated that the Queen had been “hailed joyously within
an hour by almost two-thirds of her Tasmanian people.”
About 30,000 people had lined the docks to see
the arrival of the royal yacht Gothic. “The fashionable
crowd in the stands was overawed by the occasion. There
was a feeling of tenseness in the air as the time for the
Queen’s landing approached,” the Mercury reported.
Menzies’ momentum
WHEN Robert Menzies led the Liberal-Country Party coalition
to victory in the 1949 federal election it marked the start of 23
years in the political wilderness for the Labor Party nationally.
THE post-war decade was the height of the Cold War between
western powers and the Communist countries behind the
Iron Curtain. Australians also went to war again, this time in
Korea after the Communist north invaded the south in 1950.
The war lasted three years and created fears of World War III.
WHEN Mrs E. Rainbird, of Launceston, celebrated her
90th birthday in 1954 she received as presents many
packets of cigarettes. Mrs Rainbird said she smoked
a good many cigarettes in the afternoons when she
finished work. She had smoked for 25 years and started
as a precaution against diseases at the suggestion of her
husband. The Mercury described her as ��a bright, alert, little
woman who has many interests in life. She does her own
housework and the garden, and cares for her fowls.’’
Tiger cat
Gambling move
WHILE it is generally recognised that the last Tasmanian tiger
died in captivity in 1936, Mr B. Maher, of Scottsdale, believed he
had caught one in a rabbit trap near the town in March 1953.
Not that Mr Maher would have been any help in reviving
the species as he killed the animal first before taking the
carcass home. Subsequent examination by fisheries and
game inspectors identified the animal as a large tiger cat.
THE year 1954 saw Tattersall Lotteries move its
headquarters from Hobart to Melbourne, costing
the State Government considerable revenue.
Cold war
Beaconsfield becomes
first Australian centre to
get fluoridated water
Healthy smoking
Queen Elizabeth II
becomes first reigning
monarch to visit state
Schoolchildren wave to the Queen and Duke of
Edinburgh as they pass through Hobart in 1954.
Metropolitan Transport
Trust formed (now
Metro Tasmania)
First issue of the
Saturday Evening
Mercury published
160 Years of the Mercury 1854-2014
Freemasons Homes looking
to the future
OR more than six decades the Freemasons
Homes of Southern Tasmania Inc has
provided a home for Tasmania’s frail
elderly and for those of limited means.
Chief executive Greg Burgess said the not-forprofit charitable organisation remains focused on
providing the highest quality care and services that
are dignified and respectful for their residents.
He said the board had recently committed a substantial
amount to improving and extending its operation in Lindisfarne.
“Our 40 wing extension commenced in April and
is due to be completed in late July, 2015,” he said. “It
will allow us to consolidate an external site - Bowditch
Hostel - into our main facility and add six new beds.”
The development was designed to improve
operational efficiencies while also providing a safe,
modern environment for the organisation’s residents.
The organisation was established in
1951 when four “memorial cottages” were
constructed at their Ballawinne Rd site.
At that time Freemasons Homes offered accommodation
only, but over the years the concept has grown to include care.
Today Freemasons Homes provide residential care
for 165 frail aged people and supported retirement village
accommodation for 50 people across three sites.
The organisation employs about 180 staff to provide
24/7 care and services for residents at its facilities.
Its commitment to excellence has been recognised
in receiving the maximum accreditation period
for each facility following audits by the Aged Care
Standards and Accreditation Agency in 2012.
The hard work and dedication of the organisation’s staff
has been noted with awards for its innovative programs, such
as the Supporting the Dementia Community through Fun
& Games award which
was presented to the
organisation at last year’s
Dementia & Recreation
National Conference.
(Left) The Freemasons
Homes at Lindisfarne.
(Right) Laying the
foundation stone for the
Freemasons Home in 1958.
Freemasons’ Homes of Southern Tasmania Inc
7 Ballawinne Road, Lindisfarne Tas 7015
Enquires Welcome:
Ph 03 6282 5200 Fax 03 6282 5266
Email: [email protected]
The Home offers a range of modern 1 and 2 bedroom independent living units
in the Lindisfarne area on Hobart’s Eastern Shore.
Safe, secure and relaxed
environment coupled
with independence, in the
company of others enjoying a
�retirement village’ lifestyle
Weekly rental and 49 lease
arrangements available.
Full building and garden
maintenance included.
Prices range from $170,00 to $185,000 for one bedroom units and $280,000 to $430,000 for two bedroom units.
You may know these people, or you may know someone who knows them. They are proud to
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Big industries are important to Tasmania. They employ a lot of people, use a lot of local
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