Franklin Square, Hobart, Tasmania

Photograph from the collection of James Backhouse Walker of Franklin Square and the Hobart waterfront taken in about 1870 possibly from St. David's Cathedral according to a note on the reverse. The photographer is Henry Hall Baily who had studios in Elizabeth and Liverpool Streets Hobart from 1865 until 1918.
Photograph from the collection of James Backhouse Walker of Franklin Square and the Hobart waterfront taken in about 1870 possibly from St. David’s Cathedral according to a note on the reverse. The photographer is Henry Hall Baily who had studios in Elizabeth and Liverpool Streets Hobart from 1865 until 1918.
Franklin Square, Macquarie Street, c. 1865; Samuel Clifford Crowther Library. AUTAS001122922172
Franklin Square, Macquarie Street, c. 1865; Samuel Clifford Crowther Library. AUTAS001122922172

Westward from the Davis Strait ’tis there ’twas said to lie
The sea route to the Orient for which so many died;
Seeking gold and glory, leaving weathered, broken bones
And a long-forgotten lonely cairn of stones.

Ah, for just one time I would take the Northwest Passage
To find the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea;
Tracing one warm line through a land so wild and savage
And make a Northwest Passage to the sea.

Stan Rogers, Northwest Passage.

Hobart, Franklin Square, showing statue and fountains, looking towards Salamanca Place and Battery Point; Album of Photographs of Tasmania, 1870.
Hobart, Franklin Square, showing statue and fountains, looking towards Salamanca Place and Battery Point; Album of Photographs of Tasmania, 1870.

In 1860 [the] Parliament (of Tasmania) was considering a suitable form of memorial to former Governor Sir John Franklin, who had died on an expedition to discover the North West Passage. One member expressed regret that there was no square reserved in the town to place such a monument. This coincided with the proposals for disposal of the Government House site.

A committee was formed which included Bishop Nixon; MLAs including the architect William Archer, and; the Director of Public Works William Falconer. Surviving records show: involvement by Lady Jane Franklin, details of the sculpture to be supplied (a copy of one done for Waterloo Place) by Mathew Noble; supply of the red granite plinth (prepared and inscribed by Noble to an inscription phrased by Lady Franklin and approved by the committee); records regarding contractors for fencing and the fountain and basin. No record of the designer the water basin and no early plans have been located.

The site works were undertaken by Falconer using convict labour, described in Feb 1863 as the site being levelled, and large gum trees being removed to allow planting of ‘choice shrubs’ around the monument.

so that the present unseemly spot will, when the square is completed, constitute a conspicuous ornament to one of the most prominent localities in the city.

At least one member of the Committee was less than impressed. T. G. Gregson requested that the Premier appoint someone to replace Bishop Nixon (who had returned to England for health reasons) to make arrangement for the site – base and pedestal of the statue. Gregson noted:

Already it seems to me the cutting down of many picturesque, and umbrageous trees has destroyed the beauty of the square; and apart from the ornamental has destroyed what is so very essential, shelter from the breezes and shade from the sun.

The statue arrived in January 1865, and was erected in March.

— Franklin Square Conservation Plan, prepared for Hobart City Council, 2007.

Hobart, Franklin Monument, Franklin Square, looking towards the Public buildings; Album of Photographs of Tasmania, 1870.
Hobart, Franklin Monument, Franklin Square, looking towards the Public buildings; Album of Photographs of Tasmania, 1870.

The statue intended to commemorate the governership of Tasmania by the great Arctic navigator, Sir John Franklin, was raised to its destined position on the pedestal erected for that purpose in Franklin Square on the 22nd ult., but will not be formally inaugurated for some considerable time to come, probably, indeed, not until after the commencement of  the next session of parliament.

The Mercury (Hobart), 23 March 1865.

Walker, James Backhouse, photograph of statue of Sir John Franklin in the fountain, Franklin Square, Hobart, Tasmania, c. 1870. University of Tasmania Library Special and Rare Materials Collection, Australia. (Unpublished)
Walker, James Backhouse, photograph of statue of Sir John Franklin in the fountain, Franklin Square, Hobart, Tasmania, c. 1870. University of Tasmania Library Special and Rare Materials Collection, Australia. (Unpublished)

Tennyson’s epitaph (composed originally for the Franklin Monument at Westminster Abbey) is engraved on the plinth of the statue in Hobart:

Not here! The white north hath thy bones and thou
Heroic sailor soul
Art passing on thine happier voyage now
Toward no earthly pole

Author: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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