|List||National Heritage List|
|Legal Status||Listed place (23/11/2007)|
|Place File No||6/03/071/0046|
|Summary Statement of Significance|
Brickendon Estate is a remarkably
intact example of a farming property dating from the 1820s with its convict
built farm complex , Georgian country house and formal
garden. The estate is of outstanding national significance for its association
with the convict assignment system and as a designed landscape providing a
significant record of continuous farming practice at the place.
The assignment system was set up to provide convict labour to settlers in exchange for food and clothing. Masters were responsible for the physical and moral wellbeing of assigned convicts. Male convicts provided the labour to make the building materials such as bricks, sawn timber and quarrying stone from the estate, constructing the timber and brick buildings and working as agricultural labourers, gardeners and shepherds on Brickendon while female convicts worked in domestic service. Workplaces where convicts were employed continue to be used on the Estate as are the living quarters of female convicts. The chapel built for the convicts also survives at Brickendon. It illustrates the role placed on religion, seen as an important part of the reformation of convicts.
Convicts provided the labour necessary to establish and operate prosperous agricultural estates. Brickendon Estate represents an outstanding example of the successes of an industrious 1820s settler family and the productivity of convict labour. This established the groundwork that enabled six generations of the Archer family to continue to successfully farm the estate.
The farming property and historic buildings of Brickendon Estate illustrate a continuity of mixed farming practices in Tasmania from the 1820s. The colonial economy grew substantially in the years before transportation ceased and mixed farming made a significant contribution to this growth. At Brickendon intensive mixed farming specialised in grains, wool and animal husbandry, and the farmed landscape is confined within extensive boundary hedges, estate buildings, including the pillar granary and the brick granary constructed later, the two Dutch barns, the cottages, woolshed and stables, cart shed, the brick poultry house, cook house, blacksmith’s shop, outhouse, wells, drainage systems and access roads. Together these embody a significant record of farming practices.
Brickendon is uncommon in the diversity of original colonial features that survive within the boundary of a single property. The estate survives intact as the original 420 hectare property which has been continuously farmed by the descendents of the William Archer family for six generations. It retains evidence of its original use and demonstrates the importation of British farming practices into northern Tasmania by the Archer family and the way that the use of assigned convicts facilitated the establishment of these practices in the northern Tasmanian area. The original operation of the early Estate remains legible in the layout and farmed landscape.
Brickendon is also uncommon in that the range of buildings demonstrate early colonial agricultural and pastoral farming practices based on British practice and techniques imported by the Archer family and developed over six generations. This uncommon range of building types and construction methods are represented by the timber pillar granary raised on staddle stones to protect the stored grain from vermin, the Dutch barns, the poultry house and the blacksmith’s shop with its associated collection of tools.
Brickendon Estate with its farm buildings, main Georgian house in its garden setting, hedges and land use patterns is a rare source of information about the living and working conditions of colonial settlers and the convicts assigned to rural estates from the 1820s to the cessation of transportation in 1853. The property has been lived in by the same family for seven generations and it contains related documentary records including farm diaries, correspondence, agricultural machinery and other moveable objects which detail the layout and development of the estate. These records provide opportunities for research on the operation of the estate and the convict assignment system Archaeological remains at the place including the site of the convict barracks building provide the potential to reveal information about the lives and working conditions of convicts on Brickendon Estate.
Brickendon contains archaeological sites, layout and buildings associated with convict use which have the potential to add to our understanding of the assignment system and the living and working experiences of convict men and women on a large estate during the assignment period..
Brickendon Estate is a 458 ha
mixed farming property with the boundaries corresponding closely to the 1820s
land grant. The property contains a set of pre-1850s farm buildings and a
Georgian country house dating from 1829-30. Since William Archer commenced
farming in 1824 the property has remained in the ownership of his direct
descendants, has been lived in by seven generations of the Archer family and is
still managed as a working farm on the extensive alluvial soils of the Macquarie River flood plain.|
The farming estate is bounded by the Macquarie River to the east and partially to the south while to the north and west the boundaries are delineated by hawthorn hedges. Similarly the field divisions of the farm and the access roads are defined by around thirty kilometres of trimmed hawthorn hedges. Gaps through the hedges or gateways create views across the farmed landscape to neighbouring properties, including Woolmers directly across the river to the east or the imposing mountain ranges, the Great Western Tiers, to the west.
Located on level ground separated by one field from the Macquarie River the farm village comprises a large group of timber or brick buildings in vernacular style, set out along roadways framed by hawthorn hedges. The outstanding range of early colonial farm and estate buildings still extant at Brickendon is uncommon. The buildings include:
Weatherboard Cottage: Built with convict labour. Two roomed beaded weatherboard and brick nogged cottage with a central hallway and veranda. The original shingles are still in place under the corrugated iron roofing. Probably the oldest of the Brickendon structures, it was the original homestead from the property (1820s) which was probably later used as quarters for an overseer of convicts.
Pillar Granary: c.1827. Built with convict labour. A rectangular, Dutch gabled two storey plus loft building of weatherboard and brick nog construction elevated on curved sandstone straddle stones with circular capping stones to prevent vermin reaching the stored grain. The pitched corrugated iron roof, originally shingled, has jerkin head gables. Original beaded boards remain on the exterior of the southern wall and split boards on the other walls, with brick nogging internally
Dutch Barn No 1: c. 1827. Built with convict labour . A high pitch Dutch gabled timber frame construction, weatherboard barn. The building is a single storey structure, standing approximately 4.8 metres at plate height. The corrugated galvanised roof was previously shingled. Sections of earth floor have been concreted. The barn has a single internal space constructed in a cruciform plan. The building stands between the granary and its twin barn.
Dutch Barn No 2: c. 1827. Built with convict labour. A high pitch Dutch gabled timber frame and weatherboard single storey structure, with a corrugated galvanised iron roof, previously shingled. The building stands approximately 4.8 metres at plate height. The barn has a single internal space constructed in a cruciform plan. A concrete floor has replaced the original timber board and earthen floor. The barn is located on the southern side of the quadrangle, and stands opposite the granary. The buildings form an intact and exceptionally significant group of barns.
Implement Shed: c.1830s. Built with convict labour. A timber framed L shaped weatherboard and vertical split board building open on the south. Timber posts with beams support a galvanised iron hip roof. The floor is earthen. A 19th century photograph held by the Archer family shows further buildings infilling the space between the implement shed and the group of barns. Sub surface remains exist for these buildings.
Smoke House: 1831. Built with convict labour. Solid square brick building with a hipped shingle roof and one door and no windows. The roof has been reconstructed. An external bakers oven is located on the northern side of the building covered by a new awning.
Poultry Shed: Late 1830s Built with convict labour. Single roomed rectangular brick building with a galvanised iron tile gabled roof, richly moulded fascias, decorative brickwork for the pigeon loft at the gable ends and in a course along the top of the door head and brick pilasters at all four corners. There is a remnant brick paved floor and brick nesting boxes in the corners. The building may be later in date, c1840s if the iron tile roof is original. The building is reputed to be based on a contemporary pattern book design.
Granary. A rectangular two storey brick and stucco building with a galvanised iron jerkin head roof. A single storey skillioned section on the east side of the brick granary with associated timber stock yards.
Woolshed and stables. A rectangular weather board and corrugated iron building with a galvanised iron jerkin head roof attached to the granary extends to the north. Part of the former stables was modified to enlarge the wool shed to accommodate mechanical shearing equipment. Adjacent to the granary is a grain pickling room. The upper level is lined with blackwood boards.
Farm cottage: c.1830s. Built with convict labour. Split gable rendered brick cottage with a galvanised iron roof, originally constructed as two buildings for a dairy and overseer’s cottage. The building has been extended to the rear.
Outhouse: c.1830s. Built with convict labour. Single roomed brick building with a corrugated iron hip roof, once shingled. Internally the walls are plastered, the ceiling is beaded timber lining boards with a timber floor . The original two hole pine seat is still in place.
Cookhouse: c.1830s. Built with convict labour. Part brick/weatherboard building with a Dutch gable roof lined with metal patent iron tiles over earlier shingles. Internal brick oven and fire place and timber floor with concrete block hearth.
Blacksmiths’ shop: c.1830s. Built with convict labour. Brick rectangular building with a high pitched hipped roof of corrugated iron sheets with widely spaced pressed grooves, once shingled, with forge, bellows, charcoal vent, and associated tools and equipment still in situ. Outside the building is an iron hoop bed and tyre plate.
Chapel: c.1840s. The brick single room chapel has a high pitched shingled gable roof, belltower and gabled foyer. Built in Victorian Picturesque Rustic Gothic style the chapel is highly decorative with many neo-gothic features including brick buttresses and decorative fascias and stained glass windows. All but two original stained glass windows are in situ and the eastern lead light window relocated to Entally chapel forty years ago is to be returned to the chapel. Repairs have been undertaken to the chapel and the original pews reinstated.
Tanks. There are three interconnected brick and concrete lined in-ground tanks, one located east of the second timber barn, one rectangular tank located at the rear of the woolshed/stables building and one oval shaped tank east of the chapel and cookhouse, later used for household and farm rubbish.
Convicts barracks site. Built with convict labour. The site of the former barracks building c. 1829-30 has had no subsequent disturbance and subsurface remains appear to be in situ. A 19th century photograph of the building taken prior to demolition is in the possession of the Archer family.
Sawyer’s pit and site of carpenter’s shop. A site of convict labour. On level ground east of the barracks site is the site of the sawyer’s pit, carpenter’s shop and an additional residential building, all c.1929-30. The site is undisturbed and subsurface archaeological remains are likely to be in situ.
Bull pen. A wooden slab and corrugated iron shed east of the blacksmith’s shop. The building was erected after the 19th century photograph of the farm buildings was taken.
Carpentry shop (dairy). A 1950s rectangular building with a corrugated iron gable roof.
Landscaping. Within the farming estate the farm buildings precinct is sheltered by several mature plantings of pine trees and remnant eucalypts, and framed by hawthorn hedgerows which border both sides of the farm lanes and access roads. A very large Bay tree (Laurel) overshadows the privy. Assorted fruit trees grow in the vicinity of the Cookhouse and in back gardens of the cottages. Later plantings have been introduced into the cottage and chapel gardens.
Drainage system. The drainage has an extensive system of clay pipe drains of differing sizes and open channels, and a collection of associated tools.
Sites of wool washes. Marked on an 1843 map as the wool wash on the bank of the Macquarie River, the site is also evidenced by archaeological features. The site of a later wool wash, further upstream is indicated by timber footings.
The Brickendon House precinct is located on the estate a kilometre distant from the farm buildings and the river, and separated from the farm buildings by the public road, known as Woolmers Lane. The complex comprises the manor house in its garden setting, stables, coachman’s and gardener’s cottages.
Brickendon House, built using convict labour and constructed in 1829-30, the two storey Colonial Georgian brick residence has stepped two-storeyed wings on both sides which partially form a stone paved courtyard. The house contains a front staircase, two back stairs and a service wing including servants’ quarters and a cellar. A well in the cellar stores water collected from the roof while the hand pump is in situ in the courtyard. An original bell, marked 1836, in place over the courtyard gate was used to mark the hours of work and probably to sound the alarm in the case of attack. The windows are twelve or six panes with shutters and the doors six panelled. The front door was also shuttered and features an iron trellis portico custom designed by William Archer, son of Thomas Archer, manufactured and imported from London in 1857 for 70 pounds. The hipped roof is of slate and patent iron tiles. Windows are twelve or six panes, with shutters; the building has six panelled doors, and a front door with curved fieldings, which is also shuttered. The western corner of the servants' wing was rebuilt in 1845 following a fire. An iron trellis portico is positioned above the entrance gate of the rear courtyard. The conservatory adjacent to the house has been removed.
The house is surrounded by a 7ha parkland garden with many exotic trees sourced from around the world and planted during the 1830s. There is an extensive tree lined carriageway with formal avenue approaches to the back and the front of the house lined with a mixture of elms and hawthorn. The main approach terminates in an elliptical carriage turning circle. The centrepiece of the front garden is an ornamental sundial with an axial view from the main entrance. The grounds have been planted out with a mixture of native and exotic broadleaf trees and conifers. In the central formal area several interesting Victorian and Edwardian trees. The garden has later period overlays of planting which contribute to the variety of species. Later features include the metal gates.
Water reservoir. Timber frame, with iron tank, 7 metres above ground used to provide water for the house and garden.
Access roads to service buildings at the rear of the house are framed by high hawthorn hedges.
Stables: Rectangular, two-storey Old Colonial Georgian style brick building with hip roof and intersecting centre gable. The use of a central projecting gable shows Palladian influences. The ground floor is divided into three sections: stables, coach house and tack room with loft areas above. There are twelve pane windows on the ground floor and louvred windows with a fanlight above the upper floor door. The roof is clad with iron patent tiles c. 1840. A small metal Archer insignia is attached to one of the stable doors. An interconnecting workshop links the stable building with a weatherboard machinery shed.
Coachman’s Cottage: Built using convict labour c. 1830s a two storey painted brick building with a later extension to the back. The building has a high pitch gabled corrugated iron roof.
Gardener’s Cottage: Painted four room brick cottage with rear service wing built using convict labour c. 1830s. Reconstruction work undertaken in 1991 included an extension to the rear.
Landscape. All the early 19th century field systems can be identified and around thirty kilometres of hawthorn boundary hedges remain in place. The plantings of European trees and the maintenance of the hedge rows demonstrate clearly the intention to modify the colonial landscape to conform to the aesthetic values of an ‘antipodean England’. The collection of pre-1850s farm buildings remain largely intact and provide direct evidence of the continuity of farming practices from the 1820s. The remains of early drainage, water collection and distribution schemes are evident. Although some crops grown at Brickendon are relatively new arrivals, notably poppies, many others have been grown on the estate since its early days including barley and wheat. Just as it did in the 1820s, Brickendon continues to function as a mixed farm and in addition to agricultural produce approximately 2 000 sheep are run on the property.
Modern farm structures have been sympathetically sited so they do not detract from understanding the original layout and feeling of the property.
The penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land was established in 1803 with a small
population of convicts, soldiers and some free settlers. From 1788-1830s free
grants of land were distributed to settlers in the colony. A small but wealthy
farming and trading community emerged (Petrow
2000:4). However, unlike NSW very few ex-convicts, known as emancipists,
prospered and became prominent in public life (Petrow
2000:5). Through grants and purchases of land free settlers in Tasmania owned ‘a very
large proportion of all the property’ and became very influential. The
wealthier settlers in the north ‘could build pastoral empires at the expense of
their struggling neighbours’ (Morgan 1992:34).|
Brickendon Estate is located in the Norfolk Plains, a district that wis well watered by the Macquarie and South Esk rivers. Originally known as 'Wattle Park', the estate was granted to William Whyte, but was taken over by Thomas Archer (1790-1850) of Woolmers and subsequently by William Archer (1788-1879) who in 1824 had migrated to Van Diemen's Land to join his brother Thomas. Located across the Macquarie River from Woolmers, William Archer renamed the farm Brickendon after a village near his birthplace in Hertfordshire, England.
The topography of the Midlands of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) was praised in 19th century immigrants’ guides for the manner in which it was said to resemble an English gentleman’s park. This view was fostered by the fertile alluvial soil well watered by river systems and an absence of heavy scrub. These factors facilitated the importation and adoption of traditional British farming practices, and many migrants attempted to further transform the landscape in order to enhance its credentials as an 'antipodean England'. Clearing native vegetation, introducing European species of fauna and flora and drainage schemes all contributed to the creation of a park like landscape. Located within the Norfolk Plains, Brickendon is an estate where this process is particularly evident.
The agricultural and pastoral potential of the area meant that it was quickly exploited. Many early land grants were made in the area, the most significant being that awarded to Thomas Archer. Having arrived in Australia in 1811 aged 21 to take up a posting with Commissariat Department in Sydney, Thomas Archer was later transferred to Port Dalrymple in northern Tasmania where he was granted Woolmers in 1817. His brother William arrived in the colony in 1823 and settled on adjoining land, Brickendon which remains in Archer family ownership.
In the 1820s, at a time when the Bigge Report was encouraging pastoralism as an economic base for the colony, the British woollen industry was expanding. Its promotion of colonial wool stimulated the industry in Australia. By 1817 there were more sheep in Tasmania than NSW, and from the 1820s the Tasmanian Midlands became a major merino breeding centre. By 1821 Van Diemen’s Land was depasturing more sheep than NSW and had taken the lead in improving the quality of merino wool’ (Pearson and Lennon, 2006:12).
William Archer established a mixed farming property on the 420 ha (985 acre) grant. Amongst the merchandise accompanying Archer on the ship Aguilar were 77 pure merino ewes and 3 rams, a Norman cow and bull, many pigs and two horses (Chick 1991:105).
The first timber buildings were erected in the mid-1820s. These included the original two roomed homestead which later probably functioned as an overseer’s quarters, three wooden barns for storing grain, a wooden shearing shed and working horses’ stable and a later brick granary, drains and water harvesting features, fences and hawthorn hedges. The farm buildings were almost certainly constructed using convict labour from pit sawn timber and locally fired bricks. Specific buildings to house, feed and provide religious instruction for the convict labour included the original barracks, now demolished, cookhouse and chapel. The buildings indicate a clear intent to undertake mixed farming following customary English practice. Intensification of agriculture, crop and wool production, stock breeding, animal management and sheep shearing were practiced at Brickendon. These farming practices have continued by successive Archer generations to the present.
The Archers were amongst the first settlers in Van Diemen’s Land to 'improve' their livestock in order to take advantage of the new opportunities in the fine wool export trade. William Archer imported 30 Merino ewes and 2 rams from England in 1824 for Brickendon forming the basis for the very successful stud he established
Following his marriage in 1829 to Caroline Harrison, William Archer had a grand Georgian house built, set in an elaborate garden with accompanying domestic servants’ wing, stables complex and brick houses for a coachman and gardener. The garden was laid out by William Archer in 1831 and specimen trees planted during the 1830s were sourced from around the world. Changes to the design of the garden reflect later plantings by subsequent generations of the Archer family. The homestead complex with its formal architectural style and garden layout was located at some distance from the farm buildings to separate the residence from the working area, demonstrating the family’s status and authority.
The farm layout, its design and development was strongly linked with a high labour input only possible because of the significant use of convict labour provided through the assignment system. The assignment system was set up to provide convict labour to settlers in exchange for food and clothing. The first convicts were assigned as farm servants and for personal service to officer-farmers who had been authorised to receive land grants in 1793 (Shaw 1971:67). Reports of the Bigge Commission, established in 1819 to enquire into conditions in the colony, recommended tightening the assignment system and encouraging pastoralism by allocating large land grants to free immigrants with substantial capital. Assignments of convicts to private masters was very much the favoured method of dealing with convicts. The government saw reformative employment as a cost effective measure to develop colonial infrastructure and assist settlers in establishing rural and commercial enterprises. In its ideal form, assignment was beneficial to all three parties: the government transferred the upkeep of the convict, the master gained cheap labour, and the convict gained reformation through industrious labour (Tuffin in Alexander 2005:30). There were still over 23,000 assigned convicts in 1837 (Kercher 2003) and the system continued in NSW and Tasmania until the cessation of transportation to NSW in 1840 (Shaw 1971:272, Kercher 2003).
Sir George Arthur (1784-1854), the lieutenant-governor of Van Diemen's Land from 1824-1836, developed and administered the assignment system in Tasmania and rigorously insisted on the mutual good behaviour of both master and servant. He 'recognised that the settler formed a very important 'cog' in a greater machine. In keeping with this, he governed the settler-master almost as stringently as he governed the convict' (Tuffin in Alexander 2005:30). Convict labour which was in high demand due to the shortage of free labourers and skilled artisans, could be withdrawn by Arthur for a range of offences. Servants were liable to summary punishment for misconduct, but they might be withdrawn if their masters broke any of the many other regulations.
The assignment system included incentives for convicts to reform. Convicts were entitled to tickets-of-leave if well behaved. This 'indulgence' allowed them to earn wages and live independently while they served out the remainder of their sentence. However as convicts they continued to be monitored and a ticket of leave could be withdrawn for bad behaviour. Conditional pardons (convicts had to remain in the colony) were given as inducements for special services, such as the capture of bushrangers or absconders or faithful service as police. Arthur personally scrutinised the records before granting these incentives. His administration of convicts increased the governor's patronage and aroused the bitter hostility of those whose servants were withdrawn (Shaw 1966). While Arthur set up an Assignment Board in 1832 he supervised it closely. He consistently insisted that under his regime transportation was a very severe punishment. Assigned convicts, he said, were slaves, except that their slavery was terminable. They were always subject to their masters' caprices and vaguely defined offences were liable to severe punishment (Shaw 1966).
Working on a large farming property became the most common assignment for convicts. In Tasmania, an average of 54 percent of male convicts were assigned to settlers during the period 1820-1835 (Maxwell-Stewart 2006a:3). The need to provide rations and shelter for convicts favoured larger enterprises, as small farmers were less able to support convicts on a consistent basis and would return them to the colonial authorities for reassignment.
Large farming enterprises were labour intensive. Their development was dependent on the availability of cheap labour. Since convicts and ex-convicts constituted 80 to 90 percent of the potential male labour force in the colonies between 1820-1835 (Butlin 1985:19), convicts were instrumental in the expansion of farming in the colonies. The large country estate quickly became established as the archetypal symbol of the assignment system. As estates were generally managed along paternalistic lines it was thought that masters could instil convicts with habits of industry.
Estate architecture was regarded as vital in achieving these aims. Separate quarters for female assigned servants within the house, clearly defined service areas, service staircases, separate quarters for an overseer and detached barrack-like accommodation for male servants were all considered to be features of the well-ordered estate. Skilled workers, such as gardeners, coachmen and artisans were provided with their own cottage style accommodation whereas other agricultural workers were housed separately in simpler quarters. Ideally the estate complex should also include a chapel where the convict population could be mustered each Sunday (Maxwell-Stewart 2006a:7). The Brickendon Estate exemplifies these features and is an outstanding example of an assignment era property.
A map of 1841 names the paddocks which are still in use by the current generation of Archer descendants. Some names indicate their use, for instance clay dug from the 'Brickfields' paddock was most probably used for making the bricks for the estate buildings. The location of the wool wash marked on the map as being on the Macquarie River bank is also evidenced by archaeological features. A later wool wash, further upstream is also indicated by timber footings.
As one of the larger estates, many convicts worked at Brickendon in the period from the early 1820s to the 1850s. The Brickendon diary, written by William Archer senior with daily entries from 11 August 1829 until 24 February 1830, documents the daily tasks assigned to the convict workforce, the deployment of bullock teams and the use of specialised convict labour (Gregg 2005:7). It provides a record of the lived experience of assigned convicts which differs greatly from that recorded in the official records, an example being the use of incentives to increase convict productivity particularly at harvest time, the busiest season of the agricultural year. The Brickendon diary provides a snapshot of an assigned convict workforce. The convicts at Brickendon were both young and mostly skilled. The average age was 23: the youngest, John Watt was 13 years old and the eldest, William Morgan was 59. A third of the sample of men identified in the diary possessed skills related to agriculture, including six ploughmen. Another two were listed as carters, two labourers, one well sinker, one sawyer, and a butcher. Men with highly specialised trades such as Benjamin Cooper, the wheelwright who constructed and maintained a wide range of agricultural equipment, were highly valued. Men with trades such as John Allcock, a painter, and James John, a shoemaker, were recorded as performing their trades at times, but were most likely to be employed in low-skilled or manual tasks for most of the agrarian cycle. The diary also illustrates the process of technological change and adaptation as colonists used the skills of the convict labour force to adapt technology to suit differing environments (Gregg 2005:24-25).
The 1829 diary provides detailed information on master-servant relationships including the use of incentives to ensure the success of harvesting crops. Food rations, particularly the supply of meat and fruit, were significantly increased at harvest time for the convict workforce (Gregg 2005:39-47).
In practice, the Archer families shared labour between the neighbouring properties, Woolmers and Brickendon. This was especially the case during harvest seasons when assigned servants were rotated between the two properties. With a combined convict population of over 100, Brickendon and Woolmers formed the second largest pool of convict labour in private hands in the colony, after the Van Diemen’s Land Company.
Properties such as Brickendon are historically important as they represent the typical convict experience. Unlike road parties, and other punishment regimes, assigned convicts were largely managed by the use of incentives, as opposed to punishment. The estates were places where a premium was placed on particular skills, especially those possessed by convict mechanics and many of these skills are exemplified in the surviving architecture and layout of the estate. They were also places where male and female convicts worked alongside each other unlike the public sector where, housed in barracks or female factories, they were generally kept apart. As well as being sites of work, they were also sites of leisure and recreation. They were places where many sections of colonial society interacted, a process which estate architecture was deliberately designed to control. All of these features are remarkably well preserved at Brickendon.
While the assignment system created opportunities for many convicts to start a new life, opposition to the transportation of convicts grew steadily, culminating in the 1838 Molesworth report. The assignment system was considered inconsistent, a lottery dependent too often on the character of the masters, rather than the nature of the crimes. Withdrawal of the assignment process commenced in Tasmania in 1839, to be replaced with the probation system which sought to punish systematically. In 1840 and 1841 there was a labour shortage as no convicts were assigned to private settlers. Due to the cessation of transportation in NSW the convict numbers increased dramatically from 1841 increasing the convict population by over 40% in four years (Shaw 1971:300). From the settlers’ perspective the numbers of convicts increased with no off-setting economic contribution, and they deeply resented the additional imposts levied on them to pay for more police and goals which they considered the responsibility of the British government. Meanwhile revenues fell significantly from falling land sales and a drop in exports (Townsley 1991:61). The failure of the probation system turned the majority of colonists into implacable opponents of transportation itself (Sprod 2005:290). Both Thomas Archer and William Archer of Brickendon with other family members signed a petition, published in 1850, for the immediate abolition of transportation (Chick 1991:11).
William Archer made many other land purchases. However the original land grant of Brickendon, together with an additional 22 ha of land, has continued to be farmed by successive generations of the Archer family. The successful pattern of mixed farming established by William Archer has continued with minor adaptations to address market conditions.
Changes and adaptations undertaken since the end of the assignment period include the declaration of the private road which connected the Brickendon Estate with Woolmers as a public road in 1877. Use of buildings specifically associated with the assignment period such as the chapel and the male convict barracks were discontinued, and some were demolished or used for other purposes such as storage.
A sale brochure for Brickendon in 1895 depicts the 1120 acre estate, of which about 750 acres were cleared and cultivated. The property however was not sold and remains in the possession of William Archer’s descendants. Part of the property was used in the filming of 'My Brilliant Career' to convey the lifestyle of the early landed gentry of eastern Australia.
Brickendon estate is an outstanding example of an assignment era property, and contains some exceptionally early and important buildings. As a large country estate it exemplifies the archetypal symbol of the assignment system. All the features relating to the assignment of convicts in the early 19th century are still extant at Brickendon, with the exception of the male convict barracks, the site of which can readily be identified and remains undisturbed. Since assignment (or work on a property as a ticket-of-leave or pass holder) was far more common than the experience of punishment, Brickendon could be said to exemplify the typical experience for both male and female convicts.
|Condition and Integrity|
Brickendon estate is in
remarkably good condition although many of the outhouses and buildings require
routine maintenance. |
At Brickendon house the western wing of the servants quarters was rebuilt after a fire in 1845. Otherwise there have been few major structural changes to the house. The conservatory has been removed. The recent addition of a sunroom was completed with Tasmanian Heritage Council permission.
Security for the movable cultural heritage, particularly the objects in the blacksmith’s shop, is an issue.
About 458ha, Woolmers Lane,
Longford, comprising the whole of Lot 1 Title Reference 27652.|
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Report Produced Tue Sep 23 07:06:43 2014