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The story of one journal's quest for a sensible font size

May 25th, 2011

Launceston: Brisbane & St John Streets @ 08:01 pm

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Let's see if I can get this to work.

So Launceston, main urban centre in northern Tasmania, population somewhere between 80-110,000 depending on how you measure it (city council says 100,000). Wikipedia would have it as 17th on the list of Largest cities in Australia, so I guess that makes it one of the larger regional cities. Huh.

Launceston benefited from the mining boom of the last 19th century, and officially became a city on 1st January, 1889. Most of the city's large public buildings date from this period, and many commercial buildings were constructed and developed. Successive decades didn't bring the development pressures of larger/faster growing cities, so much of the boom-time architecture remains. (The city's motto is "Progress with Prudence" after all.) The city centre, above the lower level, is predominantly late-Victorian facades, and the grand old buildings the city streets.

Top - Brisbane St

So this is Launceston as a late-Victorian boom city.


I'll do two posts. This one is going to focus on the two main blocks in the centre of city: part of Brisbane St, now known as the Avenue, and part of St John St, the one-time financial centre.

They meet in the centre of the CBD, at one end of the mall. (That's the mall above.)


At one end of the mall, this former ANZ bank building deserves a better paint job (and better lighting for photos). Built 1885.

St John & Brisbane

On the opposite corner is the former Bank of NSW/Westpac, although it wasn't built as a bank, and adjoining that the old Lonnie.

Launceston Hotel

The Launceston Hotel, which as you can see, gets repainted often. I think the facade dates from the turn of the century.


Next along is the Commonwealth Bank. Grey on grey on grey does not bring out the best in this stately building (left). I don't know what it was built as, or when it took over the neighbouring building.

Brisbane St 1

Across the road. This stretch of predominantly Victorian facades goes around the corner into George St, but I don't have any usable photos of the other end. The old Majestic Theatre (now Neil Pitts) is a bit younger than its neighbours, as it was built about 1917, but it fits in well. The other day I came across this series of photos that shows some of the theatre infrastructure still exists inside both the former Majestic and National theatres. The next building along...

Brisbane Hotel

is a former grand old lady that no longer exists. The facade of the Brisbane Hotel is there (I took this photo earlier this month. I have better photos but none of the current colour scheme, so I ducked up the street one evening and took this.) but last century the interior was redeveloped into a shopping arcade. A beautiful ghost building. (See my user icon.) This facade was constructed in the 1890s, or maybe a touch earlier.

Brisbane St

And the final stretch of shops takes us to the corner.

Photo 14

Joseph's Corner (1880s). Harry Joseph operated a menswear shop, early 20th century I think. )Also my brother lived on the first floor for a while.)

There's a view back along the street (see the old Brisbane's less exciting monochrome paint job) to the intersection with St John St. The orange brick Myer building at the end is on the other side of that intersection.

St John St

To St John St, which seems to have been the favourite target of developers in the 1960s. This stretch used to be all financial institutions, but they've mostly moved elsewhere now. There was a time when that whole stretch of buildings was modern architecture, except for the one just before the corner. Then they decided to redevelop the then Launceston Bank for Savings building, pulled the front off


and found some of the old facade was intact. The bit in the middle was apparently beyond saving. The building dates to 1880.


Across the road and squeezed into between two newer buildings, this was the LBS headquarters at once time. Beyond that, I don't know. It definitely needs repainting with a more sympathetic colour scheme to highlight its details

St John - lower

St John St from the other end, looking back towards the intersection with Brisbane St.

The plaque on the big, brown ex-bank on the corner says:

"These premises were constructed in 1907 by builders J&T Gunn for the Commercial Bank of Tasmania. The premises were later occupied by the English Scottish and Australian Bank from 1921, then the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group from 1970."

St John & Paterson

The two corner buildings on this end were both banks. The near one still is (Bendigo Bank). The plaque on it says:

"Erected in 1866 for the Union Bank of Australia which had been established in 1838 by Philip Oakden of Launceston. Architect: Leonards Terry (Melbourne). Builders: J&C Galvin. Cost: £7,000"

Paterson - east

Just to finish off, a quick peek along Paterson St behind the old ANZ building (just to show I didn't pick out those two blocks because of their architecture, but because they were typical).

Photo 11

And across the road.

Next time, I'll include some of the public buildings.
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