Welcome to Find Me Friday, the series where I post a picture of part of a building and you have to find it.
I thought last week’s puzzle would be easy, and it was.
According to my go-to source, the book Yesterday’s Hobart Today (by C J Dennison), the original building on this site was the Best & Co Building, which you can see a photo of at the State Library (link here).
This picture was taken circa 1890, but I don’t know the date it was built.
Mr Dennison says that it’s been suggested that Andrew Bent produced Hobart’s first newspaper in the building.
I can’t find any reference to the building being used for this, but the story of Andrew Bent is interesting.
He was a printer and publisher from the UK, who was transported to Van Diemen’s Land after having been convicted of burglary. He arrived in Hobart Town in 1812. Apparently he worked for George Clark, who had published early, but short-lived, newspapers in Hobart Town and had been the Government Printer.
Andrew Bent eventually became Government Printer and in 1816 he began the Hobart Town Gazette and Southern Reporter. In 1821, he changed the name of the paper to Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser.
In 1823 he imported the first all-metal printing press into Van Diemen’s Land. I believe this is now at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.
It seems that Mr Bent wasn’t a particular fan of the Government and this was reflected in some of the content of the paper. In 1825, after Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur arrived in Van Diemen’s Land, Mr Bent was convicted of libel, sentenced to imprisonment, and the government printing work was withdrawn from him.
He continued to publish his own Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser, so for a couple of months there were two newspapers of that name – Mr Bent’s and the official Government publication of the same name. He changed his paper’s title to the Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertise later in 1825. The Colonial Times was a vehicle for his opposition to Lieutenant-Governor Arthur’s attempts to control the press.
He refused to apply for a licence under the Licensing Act 1827 and, after starting another short-lived independent newspaper and going to prison again, he had decided to sell his presses. Before he could do this, the British Government disallowed the Licensing Act, so he revived the Colonial Times, which he later sold to Henry Melville. The Colonial Times was absorbed by the Hobart Mercury in 1857.
Andrew Bent left Tasmania and moved to Sydney. A series of unfortunate events saw him lose all of his money and he died in the Sydney Benevolent Society Asylum in 1851.
You can find more information about Andrew Bent at the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
So we don’t know for sure that the Best and Co Building was the site of Mr Bent’s printing press, but he certainly is one of early Hobart’s interesting characters and an early advocate of freedom of the press in this country.
Back to the building . . . Mr Dennison says that Mr E W Best (after whom the building was named) had the original building demolished in 1922 and the present day building took its place.
Now I know this, it’s really obvious that the top floor wasn’t part of the original design. For example, look at how they’ve had to work around the tower on the front to fit it in.
I love buildings that have their ages somewhere on their facades, so here’s another one.
Do you know where this is?
Check back next week to find out.