Building this very attractive little cottage, in the early 1830’s, would have been something of a challenge to William Dalgleish. The block ran from the frontage on Frederick, all the way back to William Street and, like so much of the land in West Hobart, it is very steep. It is obvious that he had to excavate quite a bit of material from the Frederick Street end of the block before he could start building. In his task, however, he had a distinct advantage over many other early house-builders-he was a stone mason by trade.
On June 15, 1833, the barque Edward Coulston left Liverpool in England bound for Van Diemens Land and, on board were William Dalgleish, his wife and four children named James, Christine, Elliston and Andrew. They arrived in Hobart Town on October 9, that year, and before long had been granted the rhombus-shaped block in Frederick Street.
The house sits almost on the street, with a shallow rose garden behind a low iron fence. Between this and the house are very big flagstones. The front door is of yellow pine and the stonework on the front is pecked and well-fitted as becomes the handiwork of a mason. The side walls are strikingly different. Here the stones vary in size, from some no bigger than bricks to great unusual and irregular shapes, nearly a square metre in area. They have been carefully chosen and cemented into the stout side rubble-walls up to half a metre thick. The backyard has been terraced because of the great steepness of the land.
During the first two weeks of 1842, a Census was taken in Hobart Town, and it showed that on New Years Eve, 1841 there were ten people living in the Dalgleish cottage. There were five males and three females all under fourteen years of age plus Dalgleish and his wife. An attic on the roof, since demolished, would have helped to accomodate these children.
Ten years later, work was well under way on the present Government House on the Domain, and Public Works Department records show that one of the stone masons employed, as at May 5, 1857, was William Dalgleish, at a salary of 12/- per day.
In the same month, just five years later, the Mercury of Friday morning, May 30, carried this sad notice:
DIED. At his residence, No. 14, Frederick-street, Upper Goulburn-street, after a long and painful illness, WILLIAM DALGLEISH, in the 55th year of his age. The funeral will move from his late residence on Sunday, the 1st of june, at 2 o’clock. Please friends accept this invitation, as no circulars will be issued.
Less than two months later, the cottage was in the press again, with an advertisement marking the end of the Dalgleish occupancy. It appeared they were “leaving the colony,” and the house and furniture were up for sale. The ad gives an interesting picture of 18 Frederick Street as it was 130 years ago. This “neat substantial built and well finished Stone Cottage” contained seven rooms. There was “a large garden stocked with choice fruit trees” and the household effects were also revealing:
..hair seated sofas and chairs, excellent sideboard, carpets and rugs, fenders and irons, four-post bedsteads and hang¬ings, dressing glasses, washstands, kitchen dresser and shelves, table, meat safe..
The cottage had many owners before Clive and Linda Newton bought it in 1976, when it was in urgent need of tender, loving care. During their restoration work, an eerie artifact discovered as part of the flagstone kitchen floor of this cottage (built by stone-mason Dalgleish) was an unfinished tombstone. They also removed a yellow-painted cover of con¬crete render from the exterior, and carried out other extensive renovation work inside.
The charming results make their own statement.
From “Mansions, cottages and All Saints: residences and churches, the heritage of Greater Hobart, Tasmania” ISBN 0 7246 2353 1
Creator: Holiday, Audrey, 1925-2009