SAVE THE GOLDEN FLEECE INN, 1823
1 Victoria Esplanade, Bellerive, Tasmania
Peter MacFie Jan 2011
One of the Eastern Shore’s earliest buildings is threatened with demolition under a proposal before the Clarence City Council. The threat highlights severe limitations of heritage protection for Tasmania historic structures not listed under the weak legislation at both state and local government level.
Demolition of the large historic inn is intended by an interstate developer who bought the property with the intention of erecting a two storeyed French style villa.
The proposal will:
• Destroy one of Tasmania’s earliest inns
• Destroy the heritage streetscape of the Bellerive Esplanade
• Destroy a unique intersection of the former Kangaroo Point ferry station which focused on the 3 inns which once operated at the Esplanade intersection.
Established as the Golden Fleece Inn in 1823 by John McCormack, a sale notice in January 1825 advertised:
A truly valuable and well-frequented premises consisting of two large, well-proportioned sitting rooms, bar, tap room, four bedrooms and other conveniences, with a large granary, together with a skeleton of a large weatherboard house with a good oven. Brick parting walls with an excellent garden fenced in.
The inn was a regular meeting place for travellers and settlers from the EasternSshore, who frequented the inns of Kangaroo Point , while waiting for the ferries heading to Hobart Town. A regular ferry passenger, and visitor to the Golden Fleece Inn, was Rev Robert Knopwood who recorded his visits in his diary in the 1820s. Kangaroo Point Court records also reveal constant activity around the once busy harbour port of Kangaroo Point, including this inn.
The Golden Fleece Inn operated as such until c 1880 when it was converted to a private residence and known as Belle Vue. See attached image. During the first half of the 20thC the building was occupied by former Clarence Councillor and farmer, Albert Free.
In the 1950s the building was renovated by new owners and English immigrants who tiled the original steep pitched roof and replaced the shingle roof with tiles. The large windows, still in the same space, were replaced with metal framed windows. During adaptation, the Oakes found several old coins under the floorboards, including a Spanish silver dollar, indicating its age.
Heritage and conservation non-status
The precarious potion of the former inn indicates a major weakness in state and heritage planning. This appears to have occurred for the following reasons:
• The former Golden Fleece Inn is not listed in any state or local heritage register
• Although listed in the 1995 Clarence City Council Heritage Study by Scrips and Hudpseth, the Golden Fleece Inn ins not register as a heritage study.
• The inn was not listed on the National Trusts Heritage Register.
• The Trusts listing became the basis of the State’s heritage Register
• As a result , the structure is not listed in the State Heritage Register
• The Trust and the State Heritage bodies are grossly underfunded, so very few buildings are being added to or cases reviewed.
The cutbacks to the heritage unit of PW&H at the last state election by former Premier, David Bartlett, have added to the backlog of registration work for staff, and added to the list of threatened buildings and sites in the so-called heritage island.
The way it was …
The failure to protect Tasmania’s Heritage has been highlighted regularly by Tasmanian Times’ contributors (a selection):
It cost $27,500 to fell Westbury’s trees. Why?
Westbury: It is a criminal act
Heritage Council is a disgrace to Tasmania
One of the great criminal acts
John Hawkins, Heritage landscapes, , Scott Gadd, Graham Corney, Peter James and David Bedford
First published: 2011-02-02 03:07 AM
Mercury, Thursday, Feb 24:
CLARENCE City Council has rejected a development application to demolish a former inn on Bellerive Bluff and build a two-storey villa.
The Bellerive Historical Society strongly opposed the development, which would have resulted in the demolition of what was originally the Golden Fleece Inn, built about 1823.
The pub in Victoria Esplanade operated until about 1880, when it was converted to a private house.
A planner’s report said the proposed house would be incompatible with nearby buildings, particularly in scale and design, and the existing house was an integral part of “the interpretative process of historic development” in the area.
Historical society member Peter MacFie said only one of the 10 aldermen present voted against the report’s recommendation.
Mr MacFie said he, fellow society member John Sargent and Bellerive businessman Ken Vance spoke against the demolition of the former inn and its replacement by a “so-called French villa”.
“All three of us highlighted the inn’s significance, its pivotal position in a major heritage area, and the effects its loss would have on the foreshore streetscape,” Mr MacFie said.