“Gatesheath” and No 2 Arthur Street


Similarities and differences, in equal parts, make up the appeal of these two. No 2 Arthur Street is a simple, late-Georgian cottage, with no complications of style, nor surprises in its design. It has been built of solid sandstone and, in its original form, it would have been indistinguish­able from dozens of other cottages in different parts of Hobart.
There are the usual cast-iron fireplaces with decorative timber surrounds, attractive ceiling roses and some cornices. The broad hall is pleasantly interrupted by an arch, and the steep stairs to the two snug rooms upstairs have a simple but aesthetically satisfying balustrade. The upstairs rooms receive their natural light from dormer windows facing away from the street. There is nothing to suggest their existence from the front of the house.

Additions to the rear of the dwelling are unashamedly modern-because this is a home to be lived in, with a degree of comfort. The cottage, made from stone quarried at Risdon, is supposed to have been built for their sis­ter (who had just married), by the two sons of the man who built Gatesheath.

There are some remarkable dissimilarities between the two buildings. Gatesheath has one particular, extraordinary feature. This is a large room on the right hand side of the short hall. It is broad, extends to the full width of the house and takes up nearly half of the ground floor area.

There is a good reason for this.

Thomas Hodgson Bromfield was a prominent member of a family of well­known schoolmasters in Hobart Town, in the last century. In 1845, he was the proprietor of a school in Roxburgh House in Elizabeth Street.

Then, in August, 1863, he bought the corner allotment of the “Limekiln Reserve” subdivision at the top end of Murray Street. Government limekilns had been operating in the area, according to the Government Gazette, since 1816, and one of the licensees, in later years, had been John Allen of the Dallas Arms.

On this Murray Street lot, Bromfield built his new school and called it the Tasmanian Academy. For many years after this his school enjoyed a sound reputation. The extra-large room was his classroom. He was also a prominent Mason in the Town and belonged to the Lodge, at 184 Collins Street.

Many years later, when Bromfield’s grandson, Mr. EC.L.Alcock, owned Gatesheath, it was known as The Dairy because he worked as a milk vendor and customers would often pick up their milk from the house.

Gatesheath is an excellent example of a house showing the transition from Georgian to Victorian, with the basic simple design and ten-pane windows exemplifying the old, and the decorative barge-boards showing the new way.

Up the steep stairs, with their shallow treads, are four well-lit rooms, not visible from the Murray Street approach. Today, the one-time school, one­time milk-depot is offices for the Lions Drug Education Network. Gatesheath is still serving necessary public needs.

Both Gatesheath, owned by Debbie Flecker, and Meredith and Phillip Littlejohn’s Arthur Street cottage, still retain their nineteenth ­century charm.

Mansions, cottages and All Saints: residences and churches, the heritage of Greater Hobart, Tasmania

Creator: Holiday, Audrey, 1925-2009

8 Responses to “Gatesheath” and No 2 Arthur Street

  1. Matt says:

    I remember Gatesheath in the mid 1980’s being completely rundown. It had no windows, no power, no running water and was inhabited by a man with a beard dressed in some sort of 1800’s clothing. It had a roosters running in and out of the open front door as well. True story.

  2. Venie Phillips says:

    That old man was my great-uncle Frank. His mother was an Alcock so Gatesheath had remained in the Alcock family until his death in1989, when it was sold as part of his estate.

    • Irene Miller says:

      Hi Venie
      I have a photo of Thomas Hodgson Bromfield who built Gatesheath, Thomas would be your great uncle Frank , grandfather grandfather , If you are interested I can email to you.
      Irene Miller

  3. amanda rigby says:

    I lived at 2 Arthur street from 1962-1966 as a small child, my father and grandfather took down an internal wall to build a breakfast bar between the kitchen and snug, dozens of hand made bricks complete with thumbprints in them were found we always believed the bricks to be convict made. An elderly gentleman by the name of Alcock lived alone next door at Gateshead back then.

  4. Glenn says:

    My dad used to take us there when we where very young, Uncle Frank as we called him too. I thought he died in 1979 though. I remember he always had a block of Cadbury’s for us. A dog called Johnny that had a bullet near his spine which could not been removed and a pool table upstairs that was never level. But, I loved playing on it regardless.

  5. Thanks Irene, I would love a copy of the photo. Venie

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