This snippet of history of Lythgo’s Row and Pontville is our overview of the history as we know it. We welcome you to come and explore our little historic town further....
William Lythgo was transported to Australia after being convicted of pick-pocketing. When he was granted his ticket-of-leave (parole) he become a police officer and was stationed at Pontville. The police station was situated on the land adjoining this property (to the north) and the foundations of the station are still visible in the heritage-listed “police paddock”.
The Pontville Bridge next to the property was completed in 1842. It was built from sandstone quarried from the site on which Lythgo’s Row now sits. Wisely, Lythgo saw the site as ideal for a home and business. He purchased the site and surrounding land on the hill behind and began the building in 1845.
The original Georgian structure was an 8-room, two-storey building, now making up the southern end of the building. It was built in 1845. The front door was the door into reception and reception was a general store. Take note of the windows on either side of the door to reception. The one on the right is larger and was used to serve through. The main road was actually the driveway of Lythgo’s Row and was known as Bridge Street. The northern approaches to the bridge can be seen to curve towards “Bridge Street”. In 1955 the bridge and highway were raised. The original pylons remain. Lythgo named the complex Lythgo’s Stores as there was a butcher shop where Claude’s Cottage now stands and a blacksmith shop where the guest car park is.
Next the cottages were built, some 7 metres north of the original house. These were built as workers’ cottages and were never an army barracks. The gap between the two buildings was filled in and the large front room (now the lounge room of owners’ house) became the general store and the room behind it the storeroom (now the dining room). The building as it is today was fully completed by 1855. Lythgo changed the name to Lythgo’s Row and lately to, simply, The Row. The general store remained in operation until the 1950s. Over the years, the building complex has had several functions and names. One was Riverain (Welsh for “house by the river”) and another The Barracks when it was mistakenly thought to have been an army barracks. Have a look at the plaque over the front door of the residence.
When the Giddings family bought the building in 1985 it was divided into 5 flats and it was quite derelict. They restored it to one family home and 3 cottages for casual accommodation and the property traded as a Bed and Breakfast up until 2015. Following a period of neglect the property was purchased by the current owners in 2018 and a total refurbished commenced.
The tiny village of Pontville is located 29 km north of Hobart on the Midlands Highway. Just one kilometre from Brighton it became an important stopping point on the road from Hobart to Launceston in the 1830's and effectively replaced Brighton which, at one time, had been promoted as a possible future capital of the island. From this time on it became one of the major suppliers of stone for the whole southern region of Tasmania.
The area around Pontville was first explored by Europeans in early 1804 and by 1806, with serious food shortages in Hobart Town, expeditions of soldiers were being sent into this area to kill kangaroos and emus. It is claimed that during one of these expeditions Private Hugh Germain, a well educated member of the Royal Marines, started giving various local sites exotic names. Thus, only a few kilometers north of Pontville, lies the incongruously named village of Bagdad and Pontville is actually situated on the banks of the equally incongruously named, Jordan River. It is said that Germain traveled through the area with a copy of The Bible and the Arabian Nights and delighted in giving places names like Jerusalem, Jericho, Jordan, and Lake Tiberius. In fact the headwaters of the Jordan River rise in Lake Tiberius before flowing through Jericho.
By the 1820's there was a small settlement at Pontville but the real development of the village occurred in the 1830's and 1840's when it took over from Brighton and became a major center for the district and an important traveler's stopping point on the road between Port Dalrymple (Launceston) and Hobart.
Pontville was developed on land which was originally owned by William Kimberley. In 1838 this land was sold and a number of important buildings - the Police Station (1839), the Courthouse (1842) - were constructed.
By the mid 1840's the town was thriving with a population of over 2000 people. By the 1860's there were six flour mills operating in the area.
Although the town's growth occurred in the 1840's many of the old buildings predate this period of development.
Things to see:
The Sheiling, (located behind St Mark’s Church of England) dates from about 1819 and was originally constructed as two separate cottages. The name is Gaelic for 'cottage'. The land was sold to William Kimberley in 1818 and he built the two conjoined cottages on what was the main road through the village, from Old Beach, before the Bridgewater and Pontville Bridges were built. The house has a large, central stone chimney with fireplaces on both ground and upper floors. It is likely that the house was used by the local police at one stage. The house passed to John Butler in 1877, and was used for domestic staff. It was converted into a single private residence in the early 1950's by a Miss Bromwell. She had stone terraces laid and the garden beds today remain almost as she planned them. It was a B & B at one stage but is now a private residence.
Stace House formerly The Old Post Office Built in 1840 as a Schoolhouse and Post Office for Mr Thomas Stace. For a short time in 1842 it became The Dover Castle Inn and then reverted to a Post Office in 1861, and remained so until the 1970's when it became an antique shop. It is currently a private residence.
St Marks Church of England St Marks Church of England, on the Midland Highway, was built between 1839–41. The National Estate register records the importance of the building in great detail: 'A very unusual Romanesque-style church designed by noted architect James Blackburn and built of finely tooled local white ashlar stone in 1839-41. It is not a large structure, comprising only four bays, and is symmetrical in composition, featuring a simple pitch-roofed nave with Celtic crosses at each gable end and square towers at each corner. The latter are pyramid-roofed in iron and their smooth walls are interrupted only by fortress-like slits. Each bay features round-headed trefoil windows and is distinguished by an unadorned pilaster...Of special note is the presence of the historically important graveyard to the rear of the church which includes the graves of the Butler families. Church and graveyard together are relics from the early years of the Colony and are inseparably associated with the religious and social developments of the district.'
It is likely that the church was opened by the Governor, Sir John Franklin, although the foundation stone can no longer be seen. It was not consecrated until 1884 as there was a legal dispute over the ownership of the land.
Brooksby Over the road from St Mark's is the historic home 'Brooksby' (c. 1840) which was originally built for Lieutenant George Brooks Foster, the Assistant Police Magistrate in the district. In 1874, after it had been used as a boarding school, it was sold to John James Butler and some of his descendants still live in Brooksby.
Kimberley Until 1930 this was the Anglican Rectory being built at a cost of 300 pounds soon after St Mark’s was completed in 1841. It is now a private residence.
The Shepherd’s Cottage Constructed in 1842 for Mary and James Burnip. He was earlier involved with Epsom Inn and later moved to Victoria during the gold rush.
Landsdowne Built in 1879 for T C Hodgman a prominent business man and member of Parliament, it is the Victorian gem in the Georgian crown. It is believed to have been built from the stone from the original Congregational Church which was further along Glebe Street. It was destroyed by fire but the graveyard still remains and is maintained by the Brighton Historical Association. Later it became the Catholic Presbytery. It is now a private residence.
Glendower formerly Covertide Built in the 1840's, early history is yet to be researched, but it is possibly Ellen Villa which figured in an important libel case at the time.
Craiglea Originally built by William Lythgo in 1855 and used as a school under the name The Academy.
The Police Paddock – next to Lythgo’s Row An early site where animals were impounded. The records show an early building on the site and the footings of the Police Station have been located. A photograph taken from Epsom House may be viewed at the Glebe Street entrance to the paddock. The paddock is heritage Listed and is leased by the Brighton Historical Association.
The Stables Sited near the bridge, behind Lythgo’s Row, it was built around the same period. The full history is yet to be researched but is believed to have been the stables of Lythgo’s Row. It has been converted to a cottage and is now privately owned.
Pontville Bridge This is the third structure and was built between 1842 and 1848 from stone quarried from the site of Lythgo’s Row. The alignment and decking were altered in 1945 to take the increased traffic flow. Just walk to the right of the ivy hedge in front Claude’s cottage and continue to the river and you can appreciate the beautiful pylons, 164 years later!
Epsom House Built originally for James Burnip as the Castle Inn, and later named the Brighton Hotel. Its name was changed again in 1853 to the Tasmanian Hotel, but by 1860 it was known as Epsom Inn. With its extensive stables it was a staging post on the road between Hobart and Launceston. It is now a private home, but cultural activities are held in the ball room.
Cottage in Prince Street Possibly the oldest building in Pontville and associated with the gaol, which was opposite. James Undy, a blacksmith, owned one of the buildings on this property.
The Turnkey’s Cottage Built in the 1840's it is the only brick cottage in historic Pontville. It is reputed to have had an association with the Pontville gaol.
Weatherboard Cottage A rare survivor this is one of the very few timber buildings in the village and it is presumably associated with the gaol.
Shoemaker’s Cottage Built during the 1870’s for William Johnson, shoemaker. It is also locally known as Mrs Wells’ Cottage.
Sidney's bakery/Butchery This weatherboard building was celebrated in its day for its bread. Built in the 1880's, it is in need of major renovation following a fire at the rear.
The Roman Catholic Church of St Matthew (1866) which was gutted by fire and rebuilt in 1927-28.
We hope you enjoy our special village.