His Worship the Mayor, Albert van Zetten

and Councillors,

City of Launceston, Tasmania

Email:             Mayor@launceston.tas.gov.au

“General Retail and Hire  – ”      at 80A – 88 Charles Street, Launceston

Planning Submission   –   Michael Hill Jewellers

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

I recently visited Launceston, the city of my birth and upbringing, on a regular visit to my “home town”. 

I am a great grand-daughter of Frederick Holmes, the first of four generations of the Holmes-Atherton family, including my grandfather Fred T. Holmes, to own and operate the pharmacy Hatton & Laws from “The Corner” –  Holmes Building, corner of Charles and Brisbane Streets –  after he entered a partnership with Mr. Laws in 1880 following the retirement of Mr. Hatton.   Hatton & Laws remained in the Holmes-Atherton family for over 120 years.

I was horrified to learn of the plans of franchised chain-store Michael Hill Jewellers, to demolish the lower facade of the old Hatton & Laws pharmacy building with its beautiful and unique stained glass windows, curved windows, and tiles.  This building is an historic treasure of Launceston.  A chemist has been on the site since 1848, but the business under previous owners, dates to approximately 1828.  Some of the dilapidated structures at  “The Corner” were in urgent need of demolition and re-building;  thus the first stage of the present building was erected,  and the new Pharmacy was officially opened by the Mayor of Launceston, Alderman H.C. Barker, on the 21st December 1927.  This building was constructed in three stages between 1927 and 1938.

Tasmania’s unique history unites the people of its communities, towns and cities, and gives a sense of identity.   Tourism is essential to Tasmania and a key reason visitors are attracted to the state is this unique history, as evidenced by its historic buildings.  The Launceston City Council is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the city’s valued heritage of historic buildings are conserved and protected.  Far too many historic buildings have been replaced by buildings which are bland, tawdry, boring, lack any aesthetic appeal or craftsmanship,  are an embarrassment to the city, and can be seen replicated and cloned in any city in the world.  The plans for demolition of the facade by Michael Hill Jewellers would result in yet another such building in Launceston.

Michael Hill Jewellers say they look forward to sharing some of their history with Launceston residents, but it is evident, and ironic, that they have no interest in incorporating the city’s history into their new store!   A skilful and imaginative architect or designer would not find it difficult to creatively incorporate and link the old with the new in their designs.

If, at its meeting on the 7th February, the Council decides to allow this demolition of the Hatton & Laws facade,  it will show itself to be extremely short-sighted;  lacking vision and imagination;   ignorant of and disrespectful to the city’s history;  and uncaring about the importance of preserving  evidence of this history through its buildings.

I urge you as Mayor and Councillors, to provide intelligent and informed, wise, visionary leadership to the city in preserving its unique cultural heritage with its quality craftsmanship.  Anything less, is an insult to the citizens of Launceston, to past and future generations, and to visitors to the city.

My sister Judy Chilcott, resident of Launceston, shares these sentiments, and wishes her name to be included in this letter.

Yours sincerely,

Margaret White

Camberwell, Victoria.

Judy Chilcott

Reeatta Road,

Launceston,   7250

c.c.      Michael Stretton, General Manager, City of Launceston

Email: Michael.Stretton@launceston.tas.gov.au

Heritage Tasmania                                       Email: enquiries@heritage.tas.gov.au

Lionel Morrell, President Heritage Protection Society (Tas.) Inc.

Email: li82303@bigpond.net.au

The Editor, Examiner Newspaper  Email: mark.baker@fairfaxmedia.com.au