Brief History of Lindisfarne

Lindisfarne is thought to have been named by Hezekiah Harrison, a free settler, who was granted land here in 1823. Harrison had lived just a few miles from Lindisfarne Island, on the Northumbrian coast. Known as the 'Holy Island', Lindisfarne was the base from which St Aidan worked to spread the Christian faith through the north of England in the eighth century AD. However, a strange coincidence makes it unclear whether the area was named by Harrison or the next owner, Thomas George Gregson, a prominent free settler who purchased much of the land between Risdon and Rosny. Gregson, who would later become Premier of Tasmania, grew up in Lowlynn, very close to Lindisfarne Island. We may never know which of these two men bestowed the name Lindisfarne.

In the late 1830's, 'Lindisfarne Farm' was occupied by John Price, at that time the Muster Master and Assistant Police Magistrate of Hobart. Price is said to have wandered the night time streets of Hobart in disguise, looking for disreputable characters. Working in Hobart, John Price was the first person to reside in Lindisfarne as a commuter, being rowed across the Derwent each day by his convict servants. Being Muster Master, Price had access to a large pool of assigned servants. At one stage, he had 19 convicts working on Lindisfarne farm. He left Lindisfarne in 1846 to become the Commandant of Norfolk Island, where he earned notoriety for the harshness of his regime. Lindisfarne Farm was later occupied by A.G. Kemp, one of the sixteen children of Anthony Fenn Kemp. By the early 1870s, the Littlechild family were leasing the farm and living in Lindisfarne House. The house is thought to have been near the site of the present day Queen Victoria Home for the Aged.

In June 1890, the bulk of modern day Lindisfarne was purchased for subdivision by the Beltana Land Company. Prominent amongst the company's directors was Matthew Wilkes Simmons, who chose the name 'Beltana' for the new suburb. Beltana is an Australian Aboriginal word for 'running water', a reference to the suburb's principle attraction, frontage on the River Derwent.

Simmons, a solicitor, built 'Salamis' in Lincoln Street, and is very likely responsible for choosing most of the street names. Beltana was promoted as a healthy place to live, with fresh sea air and away from the noise and smell of the city. To help promote the new suburb, the Company purchased the recreation ground - known as the 'picnic grounds' and held regattas and charity events there. Special excursion steamers were provided by the O'May brothers, as well as regular daily ferry services. In 1891, the Beltana Land Company became the Beltana Land and Steamship Company, and began running their own ferry services to Beltana on the SS Endeavour.

The name Beltana was changed back to Lindisfarne in 1904 to avoid confusion with the South Australian town of the same name. When choosing names for the new town of Beltana, Simmons and the other Beltana founders chose a selection of names commemorating historical figures (such as Lincoln Street) and Aboriginal words (such as Rowitta Road, after the Aboriginal 'rowitta' for wombat).

From the beginning, the new town of 'Beltana' was promoted as a healthy place to live, far away from the noise and smell of the city. Most of the house blocks sold in the early days had frontage onto Lindisfarne Bay, with some owners, such as Mr Gibson, building their own jetties. Lindisfarne had two main jetties; from which the regular ferry service operated. The lower jetty was at the bottom of Park Street, then known as 'Lavender Bay' (or the 'dunny jetty'). This bay, as well as a large section of Lindisfarne Bay, was later reclaimed.

Lindisfarne developed slowly over the years, until the opening of the 'Floating Bridge' in December 1943. Before the bridge, the only access to Lindisfarne was via the ferries or by car over the Bridgewater Bridge or Risdon punt. But with the new bridge in place, the population of Lindisfarne increased, as more and more blocks were subdivided and sold. For this reason, Lindisfarne has a remarkable range of architectural styles, from the Victorian era houses of the first Beltana development through to Art Deco and modern.

Many reminders of Lindisfarne's history can still be seen, such as the houses of Beltana's founders (for example, Matthew Wilkes Simmons' home, Salamis). The original picnic grounds, which were such an attraction for day trippers at the turn of the century, survive to this day as Anzac Park. History is also commemorated in some of Lindisfarne's street names, such as Ford Parade (named for Ernie and Arthur Ford, ferry captains on the Lindisfarne run for over forty years).

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