Homage to a time gone by
ACROSS THE HIGH SEAS Pauline Y. Buckby. Self published ( available from email@example.com)
PAULINE Y. Buckby is a Tasmanian historian and author who has several books under her belt.
Her latest effort deals mainly with the township of Tunbridge and those who lived there. Tunbridge may be a small village which is by- passed by the Midland Highway, but it has not always been so.
Many years ago, I was able to take some photographs for the late Jack Weeding’s book History of Tunbridge and Woodbury.
The two books are complimentary to each other. And like Weeding’s, Pauline’s is full of great detail and information.
It surprised me greatly to learn how busy Tunbridge was; three hotels, three churches, a school, post office and Trotting Club conducting race meetings on regular bases, a cricket club, football team, and Hazelwood’s store.
Hardly anything remains today. It was also the social point where balls, concerts and social gatherings were common.
Those days have sadly passed. Indeed it was somewhat amusing to read a newspaper report from March 1932 when it stated, “For a pleasant holiday or a week- end, a trip to Tunbridge would be hard to beat”.
We must remember it was also a great area for trekking, hunting and fishing and still is.
An interesting portion of the book deals with the hotels, such as the well known Tunbridge Hotel, no longer licensed and is now known as Tunbridge Manor.
Built by convict labour in around 1840 it had a gaol under the living room.
Overall, the property is still in good condition and outside there are stables, garages and various sheds which are all located on ten acres bordering the Blackman River.
The Powell family were a leading clan beginning with Thomas Powell who arrived as a convict to Van Diemen’s Land in 1845.
Pauline writes in detail of the family and the Sutton family when Thomas Powell and Sarah Sutton united in marriage.
In 1868, Thomas brought Hope Farm, Tunbridge previously known as the Victoria Inn, which was first licenced in October 1843.
The other family under scrutiny is the Lodge family when Joseph Lodge, a convict, arrived in VDL and became a shepherd to Robert Harrison, of Woodbury, near Oatlands.
Joseph did well for himself, purchasing 25 building allotments at Tunbridge plus 32ha of land within the town boundary.
We have to remember Tunbridge was almost in the centre of the main road between Hobart and Launceston and was – as we have seen – a thriving community until the coming of the railway in the 1870s.
Pauline also relates the royal visits to the town, such as the one in 1868, by Queen Victoria’s son Prince Albert, and later in 1920, the Prince of Wales, son of King George V.
His visit was to thank Australia for its sacrifices and contributions made in World War I.
His royal train stopped at Tunbridge for lunch.
“The whistle of the train brought those who spent the time in waiting comfortably seated in their cars or their vehicles, scurrying across to the station.” ( The Mercury, July 23, 1920).
Pauline pays homage to the early settlers, particularly the convicts, when she writes: “We should not feel shame or judge our convicts for the past mistakes, they lived in a time when injustice was often the norm and sometimes, the poor needed to steal in order to survive.”
A good book for anyone interested in Tasmanian history, including plenty of records and anecdotes.